Tag Archives: Church of Scotland

Scotland’s first Festival of Erotic Arts smothers the smut

With Edinburgh International Festival’s much-anticipated summer programme being launched on Wednesday and the first Fringe tickets already on sale, March is the time when the buzz of Edinburgh’s summer festivals really kicks off.

But there’s a new festival in town which is getting the tongues of arts enthusiasts wagging: the Festival of Erotic Arts (FEA).

Running for three days in June, FEA is the first of its kind in Scotland and follows a growing number of cities who have begun hosting such festivals in recent years; Seattle’s Festival of Erotic Art is now in its tenth year, and attracts over 10,000 visitors, while similar events take place annually in Paris, Berlin and New York among others.

As with any new and controversial event, FEA’s programme announcement sparked furore over the weekend, with both the city council and the Church of Scotland voicing concerns over the potential risks posed to vulnerable women and the impact advertising could have on children.

But rather than reinforcing and perpetuating clichés, the festival’s organisers, Itsy Live Events, promise to give a platform to erotic art in all its forms, as well as creating a place for art and performances not otherwise seen in mainstream venues.

Events are typical of any other arts festival; exhibitions and talks include Erotic: Surreal and Abstract and A Spoken History of the Erotic Arts. The innocently named Arts & Crafts Fair is being plugged as “a one-of-a-kind sexy fair” with everything from books to accessories to clothes being sold by craftmakers and artists alike.

For those keen to dip their toe into the erotic water, there’s a beginner’s workshop in Japanese style bondage, which involves decorative ties with ropes. Run by a bondage professional, the ticket price includes a goody bag with lesson sheets, 15 metres of rope, and an all-important pair of safety scissors.

Despite being a short, weekend festival, many of the names involved in the FEA are the crème de la crème of the UK’s fetish scene. London-based Torture Garden’s fetish, burlesque and body art club nights for “alternative arty weirdos” are the biggest in the world, with previous visitors including Marilyn Manson, Dita Von Teese and Jean Paul Gaultier. A debate on the nature of human sexuality will be hosted by award nominated cabaret act, ArtWank, while internationally bestselling author and blogger extraordinaire, Zoe Margolis, will be giving a Q&A on the art of sex blogging.

With Margolis a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Observer, the FEA is going out of its way to make sure this festival is taken seriously. Describing it as “a sleaze-free celebration of a thriving art form”, there’s an undeniable absence of smut in the way it’s being marketed – and if nothing else, it’s good advertising for Itsy Live Events’ other specialist service, “reputation management”.

Proposal for Euthanasia Bill


Due to a sufficient number of Government backers in May, Independent  MSP Margo MacDonald is to present a bill next month proposing a change in the law regarding voluntary euthanasia ( or ” assisted suicide” )  for the terminally ill in Scotland.

telegraph.co.uk margo
image courtesy of the telegraph

In a recent Sunday Times poll, 68% of those asked believed the law should be changed to allow voluntary euthanasia in Scotland, and a similar poll in March by STV showed 75% supported the idea.

There are currently only a small number of places where the law allows assisted suicide, including Oregon, Washington, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Due to this over 100 British terminally ill patients have ended their lives at the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland. 

This implies that Scotland – and indeed the UK as a whole – is somewhat “behind-the-times”, something that Ms MacDonald – who suffers from Parkinsons disease – has a personal interest in. She stated, ” Every opinion poll that is carried out of public opinion shows a clear majority in favour of this measure, the most recent being in the Sunday Times (as quoted above) where two thirds of those questioned supported the idea of the Bill.”

Despite the seemingly strong support for a change in Scottish law regarding voluntary euthanasia, there are still many organizations which oppose it, namely the Church of Scotland, which is very clear on it’s stance regarding the situation, “The Church of Scotland is opposed to all forms of euthanasia. Doctor-assisted dying may currently be seen as one option for the terminally ill, but we are concerned that it may come be regarded as a duty in the future. The situation must never arise where the terminally ill or the very elderly feel pressurized by society to end their lives.”

image courtesy of ironmill

Many Christians also believe that because suicide is seen as a sin, “assisted suicide” is no better. Many critics describe the “slippery slope” issue, by which euthanasia would become involuntary, for example when doctors need beds in hospitals that are taken up by coma patients, or if people want to decide for their elderly relative what is best for their own personal gain. These are perhaps extreme arguments,but also valid ones. If a person is terminally ill and also elderly, dementia and mental health also come into consideration – what if a patient is depressed? Would this be an exception to the rule if they are not in control over their own well-being?

When questioned on the “slippery slope” arguement, Ms.MacDonald said, “The bill that will be published in due course will make it absoloutely clear as to who would be eligible and under what circumstances. The Bill will also make it very clear that there is a specific process that would have to be followed by the medical professionals involved in the care of the patient, and if at the end of the process there is any suggestion that the process has not been carried out in accordance with the provisions within the Bill, then the medical professionals involved could be charged with unlawful killing.”

The website  www.euthanasia.com disgarees. The reasons this website gives in support of voluntary euthanasia are unbearable pain, the right to commit suicide,and people should not be forced to stay alive. These are all valid arguments and ones many terminally ill patients will relate to and agree with.

Many people obviously agree with the idea to change the law in Scotland, and of course many are against it,yet if Margo MacDonald manages to have the bill put through,it’s unlikely the debate is going to end.

Church of Scotland Stunned by New IVF Rules

By Vibecke Gudmundsen

The new UK regulations on in vitro fertilization (IVF) will erode the role of fathers, a senior Church of Scotland minister has warned.

The new rules shortly coming into force allow the women who conceive a child through in vitro fertilization or sperm donation to put any person as the second parent on the birth certificate. Reverend Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, says he finds it deeply disturbing that the new rules have no requirement that the person named

Reverend Ian Galloway and the Church of Scotland are stunned by the new IVF rules
Reverend Ian Galloway

as the second parent have any biological relation to the child.

“The Church of Scotland is stunned at the potential further erosion of the role of fathers, and is concerned that the falsification of information about one’s identity is the denial of a very fundamental human right”, Reverend Galloway said.

“Legal fiction”

The updated regulations by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) remove the previous clause that encouraged fertility clinics to consider a child’s “need for a father”. From April 6 it will be possible for women to name anyone as the “second parent” or “father”, as long as they are not in close relation to the woman giving birth. This allows friends or partners to be listed on the birth certificate, but not sisters or uncles, as they are within the “prohibited degrees” set out by the HFEA.

Reverend Galloway said it creates a “legal fiction”.

“At a time when parental responsibilities are in the spotlight, what message does this send to fathers, who are in danger from being erased from history”, he said.

Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe also underlined the role of fathers. She said: “Every child has got a right to a father and this bill for the first time quite deliberately creates a situation where children are born without a father.”

“A father plays a unique role in a child’s life. The effect is quite simple. You’re going to deprive a child from the outset.”

Apart from the implications the child conceived through IVF may meet in the society, concerns have been raised regarding the lack of genetic history in relation to illnesses. Also, there is a potential risk when the child grows up that related people may marry each other, which implies consequences for their children.

The new regulations on in vitro fertilization only affect women. Homosexuals that want to have a child through surrogacy will have to wait until next year for both of the men to be listed as parents of the child.

To read  more about in vitro fertilization click here.

Kirk Weddings Down because of Ceremony Cost

By Vibecke Gudmundsen

Fewer couples get married in the Kirk because of the cost of church weddings, a Church of Scotland minister has said.

The number of weddings conducted in the Church of Scotland has suffered a strong decline over the last years, falling 11,4% from 2001 to the end of 2007, according to the General Register of Scotland. However, the increase in number on civil marriages shows that people are still getting married, just not in the Kirk. Wedding

“We cannot discount the fact of the sheer cost of a traditional church wedding as an explanation for the decline”, said Reverend Angus Morrison, convener of the Convener of the Church of Scotland Mission and Discipleship Council.

The cost of a traditional church wedding today can vary from £200 to £1000, but for most churches the cost is typically around £400. The price includes the use of the church, marriage service and certificate, a publication of banns of marriage, an organist and a church officer. However, if you want flowers and decoration, a choir and bells you have to pay up to an additional £300. The charge does not include a video license, which is required by the government if you are recording the ceremony, which is a further £100.

Civil weddings up

However, Reverend Morrison underlined that there are many other possible explanations for the downfall in weddings in the Kirk.

“There are factors such as couples waiting till they are older before marrying, cohabitation as a trend influenced by the increase in divorce as there seems to be evidence the children of divorced or separated parents are more likely to cohabit. And of course there is the increasing use of civil ceremonies for marriage”, he said.

“I wonder too if the increasingly common offer by hotels of all-in wedding packages encourages the use of civil ceremonies.”

51,8% of the Scottish population who got married the last year used civil ceremonies, which is up 13% from 2001. That year the number of both weddings in the Kirk and civil ceremonies was 38%, but the two has since then gone in separate directions.

Weddings within other denominations such as the Roman Catholic Church and so-called “other religions” seem to reflect the same situation, but only to a certain extent over the last five years. The figures went down a small period, but are now back to their starting point on 6,5% and 15,9%, respectively.

Not active Kirk members

Morningside Parish Church
Morningside Parish Church

Reverend Derek Browning, minister of Morningside Parish of the Church of Scotland, said there are signs that the reasons why people want to get married in the Church are changing.

“I have many more requests from couples who are simply looking for somewhere ‘nice’ to get married, than from people who are active members of the church”, he said.

His parish has an average of four weddings every year, but only one out of the four couples are actively involved and committed to the Church.

“A large percentage of the couples I marry have moved away from their family home but still have a strong family connection to the church.”

Because a parish system is still operated in Scotland couples cannot get married in whichever church they wish. The three factors that decide in which church you can wed are; the couple, one or both, are active members of the church; or the couple has a strong, live family connections with the church; or the couple live within the geographical area of the parish.

“If they don’t fall into any of the three categories I direct them to their parish minister. Everyone in Scotland will live in someone’s parish.”

However, Reverend Browning stands strong on that every couple shall be treated the same way, no matter agenda.

“All couples that I marry are encouraged to attend a course on what it means to be a Christian. Many come into church membership, though this is not required for marriage, and it is a good way for them to get to know me and the church”, he said.

To see figures on marriages in Scotland click here.