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Inverness church minister to give evidence in support of proposed Scottish smacking ban


By Val Sweeney


Peter Nimmo
Peter Nimmo

An Inverness church minister will cite the Bible when he addresses MSPs today in support of a proposed law to ban smacking children.

Rev Peter Nimmo, of Old High St Stephen’s Church of Scotland, maintains Jesus would not have countenanced violence against children.

He will address the Scottish Parliament's equalities and human rights committee which is taking evidence from faith groups on the Equal Protection from Assault bill which would outlaw physical punishment of children.

This afternoon's meeting in the Fingal Centre, Portree, is part of the public consultation which began last September when the bill was introduced by Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie.

Mr Nimmo will tell the committee that the Church of Scotland is supporting the proposed new law.

“Scripture constantly challenges social norms, both from the time when it was written and today," he said.

"Through scripture we are encouraged to ask difficult questions about how we live and are in the world.

"In doing this our primary example is Jesus, who consistently challenged violence and highlighted that children were central to world he called us to create.

"We believe that God would want us to give children the same protections as adults, ensuring they are able to thrive and flourish.”

A report to the church's 2016 General Assembly found there were theological and humanitarian reasons to oppose physical punishment of children.

“How we treat, love, nurture and discipline our children undoubtedly has profound and far-reaching implications for how they will live, behave and relate to others in society as adults," the report states.

“Arguably, if children have learned from the significant adults in their lives that violence is an acceptable response, then that is how they will respond."

The report adds: "As Christians, we look to the example of Jesus and the way he included children in his teaching.

Mairi Campbell-Jack, Scottish Parliamentary engagement officer for Quakers in Britain, and Fraser Sutherland, campaigns and communications manager for the Humanist Society Scotland will also give evidence in support of the bill.

James Gillies, public policy assistant for The Christian Institute, Rev Gordon Matheson, representing the Evangelical Alliance, and Rev Richard Ross, minister for the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), will speak against the bill.



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