Religious leaders in Scotland have started legal proceedings against the Scottish Government over the closure of churches, The Scotsman newspaper reports.
Lockdown measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus have forced the shutting of places of worship.
Representatives from the Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) and a number of independent churches have now launched a claim for judicial review.
Rev William Philip, minister of the Tron church in Glasgow city centre, said: “We are able to do some things remotely via broadcasting but many – especially the poorest, the oldest and those most vulnerable – have no access to this.
“They are excluded completely from the possibility of Christian worship and the comfort and encouragement in life and death only this can give.
“Due to the severe restrictions upon gatherings and significant distress this has caused, we have faced no alternative but to pursue legal action.”
As part of the latest lockdown rules, places of worship are only permitted to conduct weddings or funerals – with the number of attendees strictly limited – and to broadcast services online.
A pre-action letter was sent threatening legal action on January 15, giving ministers until 5pm on January 21 to respond, a move from which the Scottish Episcopal Church distanced itself.
Lawyers for the faith representatives will now argue the regulations are in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Scottish Constitution.
Communal worship can continue south of the border subject to restrictions on attendance, leading 122 church leaders to withdraw their own pursuit of a judicial review in England and Wales.