A PROPOSAL to acknowledge the role of religion in any future constitution for Scotland has provoked a stringent response from secular groups.
Both the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) and the Scottish Secular Society (SSS) have voiced objection to the suggestion that an independent Scotland should formally recognise the prominence of faith groups in its written constitution.
The proposition emerged during a meeting convened by the Church of Scotland, where representatives of various religious groups discussed the future role of faith in Scottish society.
Spencer Fildes, chair of the SSS, said: "In the likelihood of Scotland becoming an independent nation, we would welcome any government review of the constitution to ensure Scottish citizens from all backgrounds are proportionally represented and no specific privilege is awarded to any faith group.
"[We] … strongly support the right of religion to be 'broadly' recognized, to further enshrine the human right of 'freedom of religion' and to be constitutionally equal with 'freedom from religion'.
"Religious bodies must not be appointed to any special privilege or position and such positions must not be enshrined under any new or amended constitution, especially to the exclusion of other groups."
Douglas McLellan, chief executive of the Humanist Society Scotland, added: "No group should be given a special recognition over any other and we call upon the Scottish Government, when it releases its draft constitution, to ensure that it represents all of the people of Scotland."
The religious representatives called for a proper recognition of religious belief as "'an important reflection of Scotland's wider society'.
MSP Dave Thompson, convener of the Christians for Independence group, defended the plan on his Twitter account.
He said: "Freedom for religious conscience and expression must be in constitution or new Scotland is not worth a candle. Some want religion banished from public square. It needs explicit protection."
A Scottish Government spokesman said it had no plans to alter the legal status of any religion and would honour its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.