Another two religious representatives have been appointed to the SIC’s education and families committee, despite one councillor condemning the decision as an “affront” to democracy.
Angela Nun, nominated by the Shetland Council of Churches Trust, and Radina McKay, put forward by the Shetland Inter Faith group, will join Reverend Tom Macintyre from the Church of Scotland on the committee, which also includes 11 councillors.
Having unelected religious representatives on education committees is a legal requirement for all Scottish local authorities, though the SIC has asked local government umbrella body COSLA to raise the matter with the Scottish government.
There is concern that a law conceived for larger metropolitan councils could lead to a disproportionate influence in smaller authorities – in this case, religious representations wield 21 per cent of voting power on the committee.
Councillor Jonathan Wills renewed his attack on the measure, describing it as an “antidemocratic law” designed to appease “religious bigots” on both sides of the Catholic-Protestant divide in the Scottish central belt.
Dr Wills was also unhappy that atheists, agnostics and humanists who have strong beliefs about how children should be taught will have no input. He feels the council should test the mettle of Edinburgh politicians, because there would be little appetite within government to “open a can of worms” by taking the SIC to court.
He suggested establishing a discussion forum to allow those of a religious persuasion to contribute their thoughts on educational matters “without causing affront to the non-religious and those who still believe in democracy”. But Dr Wills and his ally Gary Robinson lost out 12-2 in a vote during Wednesday’s Full Council.