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Our Society is Rooted in Christianity – Article in The Scotsman

This article was published in the Scotsman today – the sub heading they put to it is quite interesting – because I was really saying that the view that equality, diversity and tolerance are secular values IS the myth.  In reality they come from Christianity.   The abuse has already started from the militant secularists – ironically calling me names for suggesting they might be militant!

You can get the original article here (or better still buy the paper today and pass it on to friends, family, workmates to start a discussion!) –

Secularist values of equality, diversity and tolerance rest on a myth – which is no basis for any new constitution, says David Robertson

THE Church of Scotland and the Free Church both held fascinating debates on the question of Scottish independence during their recent assemblies. Both were models of courtesy, intelligence and passion, although they were not without their faux pas. My favourite was the Church of Scotland minister with a lack of historical perspective who unfortunately proclaimed himself as a Christian National Socialist!

Meanwhile, on a different planet, the Scottish Secular Society announced that it was coming out in favour of an independent Scotland because an independent Scotland would be more secular and would guarantee “equality and inclusion”. This is a chilling Orwellian refrain that in practice will mean the exclusion and marginalisation of all who do not buy into the values and faith of the new absolutist state.

It is a point which was picked up by Dr John Ross of the Free Church, who warned that voting for independence would be taking Scotland out of “Christian” Britain.

Lorna Hood, the former moderator of the Church of Scotland, was also concerned that the secularists would take the opportunity to get Christianity out of Scotland if Scotland got out of the UK.

The more militant secularists, of course, maintain that they are not out to get rid of religion; they just want to get rid of it from public life. There should be no Christian influence, which they describe as “privilege”, in government, education, health, media etc. Leave Scotland’s Christianity in the past and let us move on to a brand new secular nirvana. Religions will be permitted in this Brave New World, as long as we are happy to be relegated to the status of knitting circles and Trekkie conventions.

The Church of Scotland meanwhile is understandably concerned that it will lose its diminishing status as the national Kirk. Whilst it continues to do vital work in many areas of Scotland and has a membership that is 400 times greater than the tiny secular society, that membership is in free-fall and with less than 2 per cent of the population attending the Kirk on any given Sunday, it is difficult to argue that it should continue as the national Kirk in a post- independence Scotland. Does this mean that the secularists are right? Should we have an entirely secular constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion and is neutral on all religious issues?

That is impossible. Why? Because it rests on the myth of secular neutrality. The secularists have a very definite philosophy and set of values. In removing the Christian values of our society we are not entering into a moral and philosophical neutral vacuum. We will all be compelled to accept the values of secularism. Pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-same-sex marriage will be de rigueur if one is to be part of this wonderful new world.

Neutrality is a myth that the faith of the secularists seeks to proclaim without any evidence. It is also a dangerous myth because anyone who believes without evidence that their position is the only neutral one will automatically disparage and discount anyone who disagrees with them. Those who think their beliefs are self-evident, obvious and unquestionable usually end up being the most intolerant of fundamentalists.

My proposal is straightforward. We cannot forget our history. The supposed secular values of equality, diversity and tolerance do not stem from secular philosophy but are rather rooted and grounded in Christianity. When we throw away the roots we are in grave danger of losing the fruits. So let any new constitution for Scotland be a Christian one, which recognises Scotland’s foundational roots in Christianity and espouses Christian values for the present and future.

Any constitution has to be based on shared values. Why should we not continue with the Christian ethos and values that our nation has been founded on?

We are not seeking for a national Church, but rather a national recognition of Christianity. This does not discriminate but rather guarantees the freedom of other religions and viewpoints. It is for that reason that most of the Muslims I know would prefer to live in a secular Christian rather than a secular humanist country and why they are keen to send their children to Catholic schools.

The United States Declaration of Independence contains one of the best-known sentences in the English language: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The world’s greatest “secular” country was founded on Christian principles.

The truths that we hold to be self-evident are only self-evident if we accept Christian presuppositions that all human beings are created by God and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. If we remove that Christian basis to our society, we also remove those rights and make them alienable – subject to the whims and fashions of the powerful, wealthy elites. That may suit the powerful, wealthy elites but is it any basis for a modern progressive democratic society?

If we genuinely want the fruits of a fair, just and tolerant Scotland, then the best way is to ensure that we recognise, build upon, and do not destroy our Christian roots.

• David Robertson is director at Solas Centre for Public Christianity


    1. If you want to see many examples of miltiatn secularism go to the secular Scotland FB page. And what do you mean by ‘secular values’?

      1. That doesn’t really give me much to go on. I’d rather have a definition. Militant secularism seems nonsensical to me. I’m using your own definition when referring to secular values: “The supposed secular values of equality, diversity and tolerance do not stem from secular philosophy but are rather rooted and grounded in Christianity.” Though I’m not exactly sure what you mean by it, because if the values did in fact come from Christianity, then they are by definition not secular. Though I would argue that equality, diversity, and tolerance are modern values and do not come from Christianity at all.

      2. You seem to be a little confused. You can’t imagine militant secularism. You think that secular values by definition must be different from Christianity. And you ‘argue’ that equality, diversity and tolerance are modern values, without offering a shred of evidence. You are beginning to sound like a fundamentalist!

      3. We’ve communicated back and forth twice any you’re already going to call me a fundamentalist? And you’re wondering why people call you militant? I looked into that Scottish Secular group. They aren’t militant at all. I also tried to find a definition of militant. There isn’t one. Being as you are the one making the claims, the burden of proof is yours.

  1. As an occasion “train spotter” of smaller Scottish “Free” Churches (FC, FC(cont), FP etc) I found the Free Church Continuing assembly documents on the Independence question to be quite detailed. They go at length into the historic twists and turns of monarchs and parliaments, leading to the current constitutional settlement re the monarch being de facto Protestant and indeed the privileged position of the CofE and the CofS. On these basis the FCC seem to be wanting to retain the current constitutional settlement as a God honouring and Protestant protecting framework, although perhaps they might not object to more powers to a Scottish parliament that did not upset the underlying Protestant heritage of Britain.

    What I find interesting about the Scotsman article (succumbing to the perennial Free Churcher’s temptation to have a dig at the Church of Scotland in passing), is whether the post 2000 Disruption Free Church is willing to jettison the historic constitutional enshrinement of Protestantism, which once seemed like a hugely important issue? I’m not clever enough to know about Westminster Confession’s views on such things – perhaps those that do can enlighten me?

    Thankfully, I’ve never met a born again Christian who bought into the whole Orange Order style triumphalism or sectarianism. And in Central Scotland at least, much bigotry was suffered by Irish Catholics who can over here to work, which still looms large in the folk memory here. But if, as David suggests we do, play a numbers game – then the Roman Catholic Church could soon be the biggest Church in terms of actual attendees, and so could rightly claim the mantle of Scotland’s Church in a few years.

    I raise all this as points of interest – I have no strong feelings on this matter (although reading the FCC documents I did wonder whether I should?). Having a historic commitment to one religious outlook enshrined in a constitution seems pretty meaningless if that reality isn’t echoed on the ground (although the very same argument could be used in general against the enshrinement of Christianity in general).


    1. Calan,

      You seem to have ‘issues’! There was not a ‘dig’ at the C of S – just an honest and open statement. Why do so many people struggle with honesty. If any of the statements was false please feel free to let me know and I will correct them. That is how discussion works – don’t just make accusations!

      Your second point is more valid. I hold to the Establishment principle but it can only apply in the context of a Christian society and a State which holds to that. Christendom is gone – for better or worse. We are in a new situation and we need to face up to it.

      1. Thanks for your clarifications. I didn’t mean to insinuate any dishonesty on your part re:”dig at the CofS” – it’s perfectly valid point that few of the majority who profess the Church of Scotland as “their church” actually attend one regularly. However, I would also suggest that most people in the Church of Scotland hopefully have more concern for the general decline of Christianity in Scotland & UK, rather than the more uncharitable motives you suggest “understandably concerned that it will lose its diminishing status as the national Kirk”. Although I do suspect that all us Presbos in general have enjoyed our privileged historic position in Scotland, although it’s reality on the ground today is almost non-existent.

        Thanks for your point re: the Establishment principle. It’s a question that i am only beginning to think about. It was always one of those buzz words that flew around in the background when growing up, but I am lamentably ignorant on this subject at this point in time. I’ve always paid more attention to the more “spiritual” aspects of the Confession of Faith, glossing over the relation of Church and State. I did wonder if the Confession had any implications for Churches which hold to it, as to their outlook on the proposed Independence settlement? I think you are saying: “Christendom is gone” so therefore the Establishment principle is meaningless and irrelevant to the whole Independence debate?

        As for rights coming from Christianity in general, certainly most people I know would be utterly incredulous if I suggested that to them. The United States Declaration of Independence clause that you refer to, is to my mind one of the largest and most absurd hoaxes in history, however noble and beautiful the wording. Wiping out the indigenous population one continent to acquire land and resources, and then the most brutal ever enslavement of people from another continent to work that land – this is the epitome of exactly the opposite of ” all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Even basic aspirations for society (that one could describe as “christian”) such as free or affordable healthcare for all is an anathema and labeled as almost satanic. And to top it all off, ever since WW2 Earth has had 248 armed conflicts – the US started 201 of them, almost all unlawful Wars of Aggression.

        I could go on, but i have said too much already – sounding too much like an anti-American, which i am not. Perhaps the greatest American I have ever met was a civil rights activist who’s main duty was to organise the buses for Martin Luther King rallys. He spoke of another great man he had met – the great Paul Robeson, another civil rights activist and true American hero. These men & women did not have rights conferred to them by a “Christian” nation – they had to fight tooth and nail for every inch, often against huge organised opposition from the State (and large numbers of white Christians in larger society).

        I wish the Church did have a more noble record in rights, and I wish it did intervene more today in suitable ways. The Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland have played a really good role in working together in speaking out against our own Nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction of Trident. £100+ billion is going to be spent renewing them – which is a lot of money that could be put to social good, that and the fact that everyone in the world that has them is legally obliged to be working together on getting rid of them. The campaign for a living wage is another good cause – too many people who are working hard are relying on additional State benefits just to make ends meet, that is not just! Vulnerable and disabled people are being demonised by our government and forced off benefits (actually leading to hundreds of deaths soon after), and the Church of Scotland really did have some good stuff to debate on that issue this year in the General Assembly. Questioning the insanity and disgrace of hundreds of thousands of people relying on foodbanks, while we are the 5th or so richest country in the world (I know loads of churches are doing an amazing job in running and supply them)!

        Perhaps some of these things are too political, they are just ideas off the top of my head with regards to “justice” and “rights”. And of course the Church is fighting its corner on issues of human sexuality – and I don’t want to take away from that. But when I see post after post from certain Christian Pressure Groups on sex this and sex that, it might be a nice change to highlight poverty and how difficult it is for loads of folks to get by?

        Sorry, rambling over. I used to accuse ppl who talked about this sort of thing as having a “social gospel”, meaning that they didn’t have much of anything else. I regret that narrowness now.

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