Letters Politics Scotland The Church in Scotland The Free Church

The Free Church, The Secularists and ‘Equality and Fairness’ – Letter in Scotsman- 29th October 2014

To the Editor of the Scotsman:

I was a little surprised to discover a letter (28 October) from the Edinburgh Secular Society ­commenting on the Free Church’s submission to the Smith Commission, mainly because our submission had not been reported on in The Scotsman.

It is absurd to claim that we wish to abandon “equality and fairness”.

If anyone wishes to read our submission on the Free Church website (www.freechurch.org) they can see for themselves.

Our major point is that “equality” is a Christian value, which ­recognises that all human beings are equally made in the image of God and should be accorded due respect and care, whatever the race, gender, social class etc.

We include the child in the womb and the elderly. On the other hand, the Secular Society has an Orwellian concept of equality.

It believes we should all be equally free – to have secular schools and a secular society with their secular values.

We can have choice as long as we choose only what they want. Neil Barber says he will “fight fiercely” to allow us to have our “religious” beliefs, what he ­neglects to mention is that he will do so only as long as we are like the local knitting club and don’t let them interfere with anything in public life.

The militant secularists, whose numbers are tiny, actually believe that their philosophy is so absolutely true that they will brook no rival.

The Free Church believes that the people of Scotland (of all faiths and none) are better served by us maintaining our traditional Christian values and ethos, rather than handing everything over to an authoritarian state where we are governed by the values of whichever elites happen to be in power at the time.

David Robertson

St Peters Free Church

St Peter Street


The original letter is here _

And this is the one I was responding to –

And here is my blog on the NSS and their attack on the Free Church –


  1. Love this comment on the Scotsman website! It is interesting to compare and contrast the positions and beliefs of Messrs Robertson and Barber;

    Mr Robertson and Mr Barber both represent organisations which believe in the separation of church and state, and both obviously make use the system of democracy (which we thankfully live in) to influence politicians and to persuade lawmakers of the merits or otherwise of their respective views.

    But there the similarity ends. In all other respects, these two organisations appear to be very, very different.

    To use as an example education, and what these two organisations propose to our lawmakers;

    Mr Robertsons organisation appears to have a very firmly held set of beliefs and values, but they also believe that the education system which is funded by the people and administered by the state should incorporate an element of choice, that parents should be allowed to influence the moral principles and ethos which their children are taught in school.

    Mr Barbers organisation maintains that the state-administered education system must incorporate only one single set of beliefs and values – those which he and his fellow secularists hold to, with no other values being tolerated. Mr Barber wants parents (and others) to fund the education system, but he doesn’t want children to be taught anything other than those beliefs and values which he favours.

    Mr Robertson sounds like someone who likes free churches and free people. Mr Barber sounds like an intolerant secularist bigot.

  2. Very interesting David.

    It kind of reminds me of a time where in conversations with a secular organisation one leader there privately mentioned concern for being alienated as a “fringe atheist movement” to me. Of course if such movement claim “freedom of faith and freedom from faith” and then welcome removal of all religious components to RO in schools then their position on this becomes untenable. At the same time this does not diminish the responsibility for religious groups to tolerate other views while proclaiming their own.

    Perhaps emphasis on healthy dialogue and cooperation (aside from the militants and fundamentalists on either side) will result in us all being in a better place and in this example of education be in the best interests for students, shaping a positive future for the people of Scotland.

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