A SCOTTISH island church has blamed the “wrath of God” for the high number of ferry cancellations in the period since sabbath sailings were introduced 13 years ago.

The Press and Journal has reported that The Free Church of Scotland’s North Uist and Grimsay Presbytery obtained statistics of ferry cancellations via a freedom of information request which showed that breakdowns had significantly increased since July 2009.

Clerk to the presbytery, Rev David Blunt, said the cancellation figures exemplified “God’s displeasure” over the breach of the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy”.

He said: “When CalMac began sailings to the outer isles in the face of opposition, they broke the commandment.

“That objection to the Sabbath sailing does not change from the church. Our objection is based in scripture. It will always remain.

“And yet, the volume of sailings just increases.

“It stands to reason that CalMac will have breakdowns, but it has gone against the will of God. As a presbytery we believe God’s commandment is God’s will and not something that we should break. God’s will is what we must do.

He continued: “God is of course understanding in the activities that we must do to uphold the other commandments – for example the sixth commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill.’

“It means, of course, that through necessity and mercy we must have hospitals open and emergencies dealt with on Sunday.

“God is a loving God.”

Blunt also said that the FOI revealed that harsh weather conditions had contributed to the cancellations since the introduction of Sunday services.

Despite this, he claimed that the large number of breakdowns was part of God’s “rebuke”.

Back when the Sunday services were introduced, church members warned of diving punishment with hundreds of congregants praying over many of the first sailings out of Stornoway.

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To obtain the figures, the Free Church of Scotland submitted an FOI to CalMac to find out how the number of breakdowns had changed since the Sunday sailings were introduced.

Blunt described the findings as “quite remarkable”.

In the six years preceding the change, only three mechanical failures were reported. This was followed by six failures in just 3 months after the Sunday service started.

According to Blunt, the FOI revealed that there was “very high incidence of failure” for the five years after the change.

He said: “Adverse weather has also had a noticeable effect since Sabbath sailings began, with increased sailing failures.”

The church is hoping that CalMac take the statistics into consideration and “more importantly, God’s command to remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy”.

Blunt said: “We can clearly see God’s displeasure and rebuke in the matter and we call on CalMac to cease their breaking of the Lord’s Day for the sake of their business and the community as a whole, because ‘God is not mocked.”

CalMac declined to comment when contacted by the Press and Journal.