Tag Archives: Syndicated

Scots Catholic numbers over-exaggerated and falling steeply

Euan McColm in today’s Scotland on Sunday article about the new Roman Catholic Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews, who replaces his disgraced predecessor Keith O’Brien, casually refers to the ‘not far off a million Scots who are Roman Catholics’.

In fact in the 2001 census there were 800,000 Roman Catholics in Scotland (16% of the population).

The 2011 Scottish Social Attitude Survey data put the figure at 12% or 600,000

And these figures are likely to have continued to fall in the last two years since then.

For more on the 2011 survey visit For the Scottish Attitudes Survey visit 

Birth of a Protestant Prince and institutional sectarianism in Scotland and the UK

The arrival of a new born child, third in line of succession to the throne, is a justly celebrated event.
 But this innocent and privileged baby will be shaped by the questionable features of current laws which not only exclude Roman Catholics and those not in communion with the Church of England from succession to the throne but which also require a new monarch, according to the Act of Union of 1707, to profess the ‘True Protestant religion’ and ‘to preserve and maintain the Presbyterian form of Church government in Scotland’. 
In addition, if he comes to throne, he will, like his grandmother Queen Elizabeth, unless current laws are changed, have to declare his Protestant faith and repudiate the doctrines and authority of the Roman Catholic Church before the UK Parliament or at the coronation, according to the Accession Declaration Act of 1910, and swear, at the coronation, according to the Coronation Oath Act of 1688, to be Christian and uphold the privileges of the Church of England.
Those who proclaim that they are against religious sectarianism need to seek to change the several laws that sustain these unacceptable discriminatory arrangements for the monarchy and not just focus on the streets and football terraces. 
Letter in the Edinburgh Evening News 24 July 2013 on behalf of Edinburgh Secular Society

Are Gay Scots being strung along by the Scottish Government?

Tom French of Scotland’s Scottish Government funded Equality Network expresses frustration in the latest edition of Pink News that, having been the first part of the UK to begin the process of legalising same sex marriage, Scotland has now fallen behind.

David Cameron’s head-on challenge to the Conservative Party and the UK Parliament has now led to the passing of same sex marriage laws in England and Wales but in Scotland the process has been much delayed.

Tom French’s account of the long strung out process in Scotland since 2008 when the Network launched the campaign for equal marriage suggests to this seasoned observer of the political scene that gay marriage campaigners are being strung along by the Scottish Government.

Chastened by the divisions about with equal rights for gay people within the Church of Scotland and by the outright opposition of the Roman Catholic Church and the Coalition for Marriage, the Scottish Government, even though it has a controlling majority in the Scottish Parliament, is taking its time to pass the relevant legislation because it fears that such steps might prejudice support for its main priority – a ‘Yes’ vote in the independence referendum.

It looks like the Scottish Government is delaying final approval of the legislation and the first same sex marriages in Scotland until after the referendum in September 2014.

But there can be no guarantees after the referendum that the legislation will be finally approved. If there is a ‘yes’ vote there will be other momentous decisions to be made; if there is a ‘no’ vote there will be disarray in the SNP administration along with the resignation of the First Minister.

See Tom French’s statement at



What are religious representatives on Scotland’s education committees for?

I had an early morning radio discussion today on BBC Scotland’s ‘Good Morning Scotland” at 6.40am.

It was about the publication by Edinburgh Secular Society of a list of details of 91 religious representatives who are appointed by denominations to serve on Scotland’s 32 local authority education committees.

A representative of the Church of Scotland was involved but her defence of the involvement of these ministers,.priests, pastors and church members was that they are good people with skills and knowledge that will assist the committees in their work.

But if the education committees wanted such people they could be found by open competition rather than by exclusive legally required nomination by religious denominations.

The religious contributor, Rev Sally Fulton Foster, Convenor of of Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council claimed there was no hidden religious agenda in these duties but she did not deny the statement in the Council’s report to the Annual Assembly that the ‘church representatives hold the balance of power’ in 19 of Scotland’s 32 educational committees.

See the Edinburgh Secular Society’s report at http://www.edinburghsecularsociety.com

Hear the discussion at BBCRadScot RelReps – NormanB-SallyF-F 2013-07-18.mp3
7216K   Play   Download  

Towards a free market in religion

Online publication in the Political Quarterly April 2013

Controversies over women bishops and same sex marriage have emphasised the anomalous position of the Church of England which acts as a state church open to all but which is reluctant to accept the values of contemporary society and of Parliament which ultimately has legal control over it. It is now a rare example of a national enterprise that is not subject to the disciplines of the market. Its monopoly of state religious ceremonial seems increasingly unjustified in a society that questionably or barely has a Christian majority but its attempts, with the support of successive governments, to widen religious diversity in state representation and ceremonial, privileges eight minority non-Christian religions and excludes other forms of religion and belief. Such actions also conflict with the Church’s founding articles and emphasise its failure to achieve its official Christian mission. In an arena where citizens have a choice they overwhelmingly reject the Church and choose secular civil registration over marriage with Anglican rites. The ending of the Church’s current monopolies and unique privileges would promote a freer and more vigorous market in religion in England.

Political Quarterly, 84, 2, July 2013, 256-264

The online version of this article is available at;

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