Members of the Scottish Parliament have criticised the clergy for attempting to block the appointment of openly gay minister Scott Rennie.
The Rev Rennie was appointed as minister for Queen’s Cross church in Aberdeen but some ministers have objected because they do not agree with his lifestyle.
Despite this, more than 80 per cent of Rennie’s congregation voted for him.
Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians have called attempts to block his ordination and ignore the wishes of his congregation “wholly unnacceptable”.
Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald told the Press and Journal: “I think it is wholly inappropriate that people who have no connection with the congregation or Aberdeen are trying to dictate to the members of that presbytery who they should choose and on what basis.
“Scott Rennie has become the victim of people who are trying to make a test case, which is a deplorable approach that is neither fair to him nor the congregation.”
North-east Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes described the decision to block the appointment as “extremely misguided”.
Tory MSP Alex Johnstone added: “The decision taken by Queen’s Cross Church and Aberdeen Presbytery should have been allowed to stand.
“I know Scott personally. He has distinguished himself as the minister at Brechin Cathedral and he is a very decent human being who has a great deal to offer.”
The dispute over Rennie’s ordination is threatening to create a schism in the Church of Scotland and has been compared to the case of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the US.
Robinson gained international recognition after New Hampshire Episcopalians made him their bishop and, as a result, the worldwide church’s first openly gay bishop.
In an interview with the spring edition of OneKirk Journal, Rennie, who lives with his partner, said he felt “battered” by the speculation over his private life.
“On the other hand, and for the greater part, I feel hugely strengthened and supported by the hundreds of messages I have received from people both inside and outside the Kirk,” he added.
A petition against his appointment has collected more than 5,000 signatures, it was revealed yesterday.
A fifth of Church of Scotland clergy signed the petition.
He was elected by 86 per cent of the church’s congregation, a vote ratified by the Presbytery of Aberdeen in January, by 60 votes to 24.
The Church’s General Assembly will debate the controversial appointment on May 23rd.