Why I Left Secular Scotland
Secular Scotland is a small group of secular activists who occasionally meet in a pub in Glasgow and who have quite an entertaining Facebook page. They have a few members who regularly bombard the Scottish media and Internet forums. They claim 1361 members, but that is slightly disingenuous because that includes everyone who is signed up to their FB page – including yours truly. Let me put it simply I and many others have more FB friends than Secular Scotland has ‘members’. In other words they are typical of many small activist groups – the smaller they are, the more noise they make.
But what if their noise is true? One with truth is a majority. What is Secular Scotland all about? There is a sense in which many Christians would support Secular Scotland, if their aim were a proper separation of church and state. Very few Christians want the church to run the State, even less the State running the Church. In one sense of the meaning secularism can be, and is, supported by many Christians.
But in the post-modern age we need to find out what words actually mean to the people who espouse them, and therein lies a different tale for groups like secular Scotland. I ‘joined’ the group because I was interested in finding out where they are coming from and what ideas they had. I stuck with it over many months, accepting that there were those who had been damaged by religion, those who were just plain eccentric, and that, like every internet forum, there were going to be a few ‘trolls’ and hate-filled unbalanced individuals. Of course my peace loving and irenic style did not always guarantee that I would ‘feel the luv’…but there were moments of sanity, good discussion and some dialogue. Perhaps the highlight was when they were compelled to insist that people stop abusing and try to debate the issues, not abuse the person. And there were contributors like the chairperson, Caroline Lynch, whose humanity, common sense and decency shone through. However I have had enough and have decided not to contribute anything on there any more. Why?
Not because it is a cesspit of anti-religious bile and hatred. Which it is. More than half the posts are anti-religious. And the hypocrisy is breathtaking. Let Brian Souter do anything and someone immediately posts a derogatory post. Anytime a priest is charged with some kind of misconduct, SS can hardly contain their glee. But let a secular politician be accused of sexual misconduct and there is stunning silence. Not a word. What after all does secular Scotland have to do with secular politicians?! No their main purpose is to attack religion in general, Christianity in particular and in very particular the Catholic Church and evangelicals. This attitude towards Christianity in general quickly degenerates into personal abuse if anyone dares challenge the herd mentality. I recall one week where there were four threads solely set up for the purpose of abusing me. Even this week, having not been near the place for weeks, the following was posted; “David Robertson is a middle aged man from Dundee who suffers from various mental afflictions. If there was a god, its likely she invented DAR to unite Christians and atheists in loathing and amusement.” What bothers me is not that such posts are posted, nor even that the moderators leave them there. But rather than no-one ever challenges those use such hate speech, and even worse, several of the main players will always ‘like’ such comments.
Not because it is irrational and illogical. Which it is. There are so many examples of this. Let a couple suffice. “Religious leaders are rushing to reject extremism as Lee Rigby’s murderers are convicted tonight. When will the Government deal with religion – in our schools; on our streets – as it becomes more extreme at all levels in our society? Lee Rigby’s murderers started out as Christians. They learnt all they knew from Christian proselytizers. Let us not just blame Islam.” Secular Scotland – 19th December 2013. Christians are responsible for Islamic extremists? It is difficult to accept that such views are anything other than a parody – and yet this is the kind of material that comes from several of the main players. Take another example. SS were quoted in the Scottish press when the latest figures on decline in the Church of Scotland were published. With the Church having gone down below 400,000 for the first time, the spokesperson for SS could hardly contain their glee. This shows that the church no longer speaks for Scotland. SS speaks for the people of Scotland and so on. When I simply pointed out that even allowing for their exaggerated and very generous definition of membership, they had only 0.25% of the membership of the C of S, they started pointing out that numbers did not matter, that the church had had 2000 years and they had only just got started, and that anyway did I not know that they speak for 53% of the population? Talk about moving goalposts!
Not because it is obsessed with sex. Which it is. I have met some people in the church who seem obsessed by issues of sexuality – but its nothing compared with SS! And again I suspect there are good reasons for that – not least that some have experienced abuse and denigration because of their sexuality. Nonetheless it is sad that they then go on to abuse and denigrate those who don’t agree with their point of view. Apparently there are some ‘secular values’. I had thought secularism was a simple separation of Church and State. But secularism SS style, carries a whole other baggage. You have to be ‘progressive’, pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, and above all pro-homosexuality – which is the cause celebre of the new secular elites. Homosexuality has become the shibboleth issue. One has to wonder why? Dare any one in public life suggest for example that marriage should be between a man and a woman and they are automatically decried as a homophobe bigot – even (or perhaps especially) if they are homosexual and atheist!
Not because it is increasingly militant and aggressive. Which it is. On the one hand Caroline Lynch makes the seemingly reasonable observation of SS vision for education – “Its a vision where children are not segregated according to the beliefs of their parents, and where faith is incidental, not all defining. We see a future where all kids get a good education, not twisted by religious views of sexuality or of science. We see a future where religion is a choice, not imposed, but where if it is chosen it can be followed freely and openly as long as it doesn’t impact others. I’d say that is a very positive vision for education.” It all sounds so sweet, logical and reasonable until you actually think about what is being said. Lets leave aside that SS seem to have no problem with children being segregated according to the wealth and social status of their parents, and focus on what they actually want. They will tolerate ‘faith’ providing it is not ‘all defining’ and ‘does not impact others’. That is absolutely impossible for Christians. My faith is all defining and it will impact others. SS want the complete neuterisation and privatization of religion. They want only their views and values to be taught and allowed in public life. They of course cannot give any reasonable justification for these views. Like all fundamentalists they just assume they are right, and anyone who disagrees with them must be dealt with.
As a classic example of this consider the following ominous post”
If you know of any of these organisations being active in Scottish schools,
Prayer Spaces in Schools
AIM (Adventures in Missions) (other than Kirktonholme)
Healing Rooms Scotland
MAD (Making a Difference) Ministries
24-7 Prayer or 24-7 Prayer Scotland
Good News Club
Child Evangelism Fellowship
please let me know by IM or email. Name of school, nature of activity, why it is objectionable. Simply preaching Christianity doesn’t count, but homophobia, saying non-believers are damned or immoral, and above all creationism and claiming the cure of illnesses, would be of great interest to a journalist contact. I will keep your name private unless you say otherwise.”
They boasted about having a journalistic contact who would be happy to run with any such stories, warning about the dangers of such groups. SS were encouraging a witch-hunt against Christian groups working with children, all for the sake of their ideology.
No – I am glad to be out of it. I am glad not to wake up each morning with the hate mail, the vile posts and the filth. But none of the above were my reasons for leaving. I was prepared to put up with it because a) I actually learned something; b) there were those who wrote me personally thanking me for exposing SS for what it was; and c) it was somehow quite encouraging to see just how empty this new fundamentalist atheism is (because that is what SS is about – fundamentalist atheists using the guise of secularism to get the State to impose their one way philosophy upon the whole of society). The more they got hammered in logical argument, the more abusive they became. Also there were a few secularists who were thoughtful, stimulating and intelligent co-belligerents. I will miss them.
But the reason I left boils down to one thing. Such is their hatred of religion and Christianity and yours truly that they were prepared to take a vulnerable person and without any corroboration exploit them and use them for their own ends. Unlike SS I am not prepared to go into details, but a very unhappy, very damaged person, who I cared for and tried to help, decided to lash out and wrote a post to SS. SS then decided to publish unsubstantiated allegations (no – not those kind of allegations!) purely and simply because it enabled them to run their continuous narrative – ‘look at the harm religion does to you’. Since that day these allegations have been republished as evidence that religion harms you, at least six times. It is a nauseating way to behave and shows how the ideology of Secular Scotland trumps any concern for the humanity of the individual. So I left. And it’s been a relief.
As I return to this post I note that Secular Scotland have just come out in favour of voting Yes in the Independence referendum, because that will, according to them, give a better chance of getting the pure secular state they want. As someone who intends to also vote Yes, I cannot think of a better reason to vote No! If SS represents the kind of values that a Secular Scotland would bring, then God have mercy on us. For evil to succeed it is only necessary that good men do nothing. That’s why I am not prepared to watch this handful of fundamentalist ideologues destroy my country with their extremist rhetoric, their immature abuse and their fanciful faith in the inevitable progress of humanity. I don’t believe that Jesus has given up on Scotland yet and I plead that he will not hand us over to our enemies. I no longer ‘belong’ to Secular Scotland, but I will continue to proclaim the light and love of Jesus Christ, which alone can dispel the darkness that covers the land. And I pray that those who are caught up in the darkness of SS will themselves be set free and come to know the glorious liberty of the children of God!
Footnote: Before I posted this I thought I would return to have a look at the SS FB page. Much to my amazement there were three threads devoted to attacking me, which, given that I have not been involved with SSS for months, seems a wee bit obsessive and personal. One just simply reposts a series of FB posts in a discussion I was having about the C of S call for a service of reconciliation. Why? What does that have to do with secularism? The poster (again one of the SS leaders) apparently thinks this shows me getting in trouble with a Catholic writer and thus fulfills the double purpose of attacking me, and showing that Catholic/Protestant sectarianism still survives! The fact that this has nothing to do with Protestant/Catholic (I was not even aware that the person I was discussing with was Catholic), does not seem to have bothered SS. It’s all too typical of the petty immaturity of much of the ‘dialogue’ on SS.
Ross Alfield, the Catholic writer posted the following in response to this on the Solas FB page – ” For the benefit of any SS trolls and lurkers who might want to invent another fantasy about warring Catholics and Prods on the Solas FB page. Let me say that despite the occasional theological disagreement, I have nothing but huge admiration and respect for Rev Robertson and his work. He has done more for Christian dialogue than any other Christian leader in the country. Even when there is a bit of rough and tumble, he is thick skinned and always open to frank dialogue and free debate. For clarity, Solas and Rev Robertson have always had a very respectful and very progressive attitude towards Catholics. (You can see this topic discussed in the excellent Fleabyte videos.) Rev Robertson should be commended for the brave and massive changes in attitude he has brought to his Church with regards to it’s position on other Christians. Furthermore, Solas do a great job in bringing different Christians together and speaking out on issues. Hope that clears it up”
I also came across this wee video clip of what the more immature New Fundamentalist Atheism sounds like – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Adn44cfYSdc
although it is from the University of Berkeley – it is indicative of much of the religious abuse, irrationality and hatred that seems to be at the heart of Secular Scotland. As regards SS for me it is time to be silent. Now for some more profitable discussion with some serious atheists…!
PPS. As soon as this was posted on Secular Scotland the abuse began….”I don’t hate Christians. I hate DAR.”..thats why I left.