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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

“Misogynistic”: Secular group calls for review of charity law around religion


The call follows a complaint to OSCR from the National Secular Society.

Scotland’s charity regulator has been urged to take action over a “misogynistic sermon” at a Fife church. 

Concerns were raised in February after a sermon at Rosyth Baptist Church, registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), which claimed that a wife should submit to her husband.

The National Secular Society (NSS) lodged concerns with the Scottish charity watchdog after Rosyth Baptist Church's pastor claimed "a husband is the head of his wife" and a wife "that submits to her husband's leadership and respects him is easier to love".

The sermon, titled 'Submit and love', was delivered in January by reverend Chris Demetriou.

Demetriou says a marriage with a wife at the head "will not reach its full potential" because that "is not in God's purpose".

He explains a wife "should submit to her husband's leadership" because "that's the Lord's pattern for us". She submits to him "out of obedience to Christ".

He says that if a wife thinks her husband is making a mistake, she "is to express why, because she's looking out for him" and "look to persuade him". But while a husband "should listen to his wife", it is "his responsibility to lead".

He ends the sermon by praying "that we will let our husbands lead".

The Church re-registered as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation earlier this year under the charitable purpose “the advancement of religion”.

A spokesperson for the National Secular Society told TFN: “OSCR’s inaction on Rosyth Baptist Church is disappointing, if unsurprising. We know from the case of Moray Coast Baptist Church that these decisions are long in the making and often ultimately unsatisfactory.

“We can only hope the upcoming review of charity regulation in Scotland will spur OSCR to take more robust action.

“Since our story on Rosyth, we’ve uncovered an Islamic charity, One True Message Foundation, which compared women who don’t wear the hijab to ‘unwrapped sweets’ that have been trodden on.

“It’s clear that charity law as it stands is allowing religious misogyny to be spread with impunity in Scotland, as well as England and Wales. ‘The advancement of religion’ as a charitable purpose must now be urgently reviewed.”

The NSS told the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) the sermon was "misogynistic, discriminatory against women and perpetuates sexist tropes".

The sermon validates behaviour that could be considered "coercive and controlling" under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, the NSS said in its complaint.

The NSS added it was "especially concerning" that children attending the Church could be exposed to this message.

Non-religious charities would not be permitted by the regulator to spread this message and charities registered under 'the advancement of religion' should be "held to the same standard", it concluded.

Under OSCR's guidance, registered charities "must actively provide benefit". An organisation may fail the charity test if it causes "likely detriment or harm".

OSCR told TFN that a “thorough assessment” of the concerns was carried out, but that they could not intervene.

An OSCR spokesperson said: “OSCR conducted a thorough assessment of these concerns to determine if there were any regulatory matters for us to take forward. We cannot intervene in the activities of religious charities seeking to promote their religious beliefs unless their activities have the clear and direct effect of harming others or otherwise breach the law.”

Rosyth Baptist Church did not respond.



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