THE Church of Scotland’s General Assembly has overwhelmingly backed the case for remaining in the European Union, hailing its role in promoting peace, security and reconciliation.
Rev Aniko Schuetz Bradwell, a minister in East Lothian, told the Assembly how she had grown up in East Germany.
She said: “On June 23 I will not have a vote despite having lived in Scotland for ten years. I was born and grew up in East Germany behind a wall, and not even very far from it.
“I was seven years old when that wall came down, and I still remember vividly how much life changed for us afterwards. We have a choice now and I hope we will choose to build bridges, not to erect another wall.”
Rev Anita Stutter, a minister in Aberdeenshire, said she wished the Assembly to recognise the deep anxiety the referendum was causing millions of people across Europe.
She said: “I have been in this country for nearly 20 years, I have paid my taxes and raised my children. I never considered myself an immigrant until the last few months.
“It comes as a great anxiety for myself and other people who have made their homes here, as well as the many UK citizens who are now living in other European countries.
“If you count them up this is nearly five million people living with sleepless nights and uncertainty of what will happen to us if the UK chooses to leave.”
But Rev Dr Karen Fenwick, from Angus, argued the church should not tell people how to vote. “We are not a political party or a trade union,” she said. “I think the Scottish public are quite capable of knowing we support the EU without us telling them what to do.”
Rev Sally Foster Fulton, convener of the church and society committee, welcomed the Assembly’s continued backing for EU membership. She said: “For the last 20 years we have recognised the European Union’s achievements in promoting peace and security.
“We are not for one moment telling people how they should vote. We are saying as a church that much has been gained by being a part of the European Union. We recognise it is not perfect, but the EU is a work in progress and not the finished product.”
Earlier, the Assembly called for a ban on smacking, arguing that children should have the same protection from assault as adults.