Newspaper Letters

The Scottish Secular Society’s Fears Answered – Letters in the Dundee Courier – Sept 2015

The following is a very revealing letter printed in the Courier (10th September 2015) , by Garry Otton of the SSS. My response, printed on the 12th follows after:


Alex Salmond asks in your newspaper: “what exactly is it that the secular society fear about religious faith which makes them so sensitive?”   Here’s what we fear.  Up to four unelected religious affiliates on every religious education committee in Scotland. 

A robust support for the segregation of children into separate schools on the basis of what their parents believe. The spread of more divisive faith schools.  Exemptions from equality legislation the rest of us have to abide by.  The failure to stop religious proselytising in our schools. 

Exemptions from taxes the rest of us have to pay. Millions in government grants and handouts to faith organisations and the attempt to get faith a privileged platform in Holyrood, like in Westminster, against the express wishes of the father of our parliament, Donald Dewar.

Do you want me to go on, Mr Salmond?

Garry Otton, Scottish Secular Society. 

Dear Editor,

Gary Otton of the Scottish Secular Society is afraid. He fears that religious groups have representatives on the local education committees. He fears that children should be educated according to what their parents want. He fears that religious proselytising is taking place in schools. He fears that religious people are not paying their taxes. He fears that millions are being handed out in government grants to religious organisations. But like much of the fear mongering of the atheistic secularists,his fears are misplaced.They are simply the ignorance and prejudices which are used to blame the bogeyman of religion for all of humanities ills.

Most people think it is a great idea that parents should have a say in their own children’s education and would not like our children to be left to the indoctrination of the atheistic secularists. Given that so many schools have a religious ethos its a great idea that representatives of the churches which are so involved in eduction should be included on education committees. Religious proselytising is not taking place in state schools, however there are considerable attempts by the humanists and secularists to ensure that only their doctrines are taught and that our children are the recipients of their social engineering.

Religious people pay exactly the same taxes as everyone else. We get no exemptions. Not a single penny is handed out to religious organisations to enable them to spread their faith. On the other hand the government does see the value in the great work that many religious groups do, at no cost to the State, and so sometimes they support them. For example the Trussell Trust feeds tens of thousands through their food banks. Is this what the SSS are objecting to? Perhaps they should be more concerned about groups such as the Equality Network, a government funded organisation who are holding a dinner for hundreds for the LGBTI awards in a posh hotel in Glasgow.

The sad fact is that the tiny Scottish Secular Society and their comrades in arms, the Scottish Humanists, are really afraid that anyone would dare to think, speak or behave differently from them. Their fears lead them to a frightening intolerance. Little wonder that Alex Salmond prefers people of faith!

Yours etc

David A. Robertson
St Peters Free Church
4 St Peter St
DD1 4 JJ


  1. Brilliant response I have to say however permit me if you will David to have slight disagreement with your assertion that Otton’s letter is “revealing”. I would suggest that it is more of the same from what has become a familiar script.

    What it does show is further evidence of what has been spoken elsewhere of a “perceived anti-faith stance” by a leader of SSS speaking about SSS and a fear of the group marginalising itself as a “fringe atheist movement.”

    It doesn’t take Einstein to discern that this feeds into cultural sensitivity about gay rights (coming as this has from a gay man) just as the recent storm about Charlotte Proudman and her allegation about objectification. With respect to the latter, Sarah Vine of the Daily Mail comments “Er, he said he liked her picture… If that is what counts as ‘objectification’ and ‘misogyny’ these days, then the human race is in deep trouble… if her hysterical and laughably pompous reaction weren’t bad enough, she then decided to post their exchange on Twitter, thereby escalating the entire debacle to a state of war… I received an email from a gentleman reader in response to something or other I’d written. Quite a long disquisition, as I recall, and rather serious. He made several good points. And then at the end of it, a P.S: please could he have a picture of me in my nightie.Sadly I was unable to oblige (I’m more of a pyjama girl); but was I offended? Certainly not. Tickled pink, in fact. After all, what’s not to like about a harmless compliment?”

    Now I’m not always a fan of Daily Mail reporting but it is interesting to see Vine comment that if such allegation is what constitutes “misogyny” then “the human race is in deep trouble” and instead suggest being “ticked pink” at a harmless compliment”.

    It’s starting to become somewhat of a cliche to have the words Otton and joke in the same sentence. Nevertheless both he and Proudman must have something to gain by their approaches (bewildering as it may appear) otherwise why would they take them?

    In fact – thinking about it – should one be “tickled pink” to be insulted by Otton of being “divisive” and practicing “religious proselytising”? If that means discerning between fascist bullying and what is good for equality, justice and the betterment of society, and the defence of freedoms for all including the freedom of expression of all faith and none then I would claim guilty as charged! Society, the human race is indeed in deep trouble when it fails to honour these basic human rights.

    So what is the fear – what does it boil down to? If it is fear of God then good – absence of God is hell on earth. But then why would the church have any fear of what SSS may do either? Perfect love casts out fear – right?

    “The government does see the value in the great work that many religious groups do, at no cost to the State”. Yes, food banks being one, Street Pastors another not to mention groups and individuals that have made positive contributions to society throughout history spurred on by faith. Long may it continue!

  2. I am with you on this. On a change of subject I listened through Donald Trumps diatribe at a named Christian university and felt your article remarks were benevolent in the extreme. I cannot believe any thinking American could ever consider that such a disgusting trumpeter of his own importance could ever be considered for Presidential office . I still cannot believe the reception he received.


    sent from Windows Mail

  3. Bravo David. I have an eleven year old daughter who came home one day and instead of saying: Dad I won and you lost. She said: Dad – Boom in da face.
    I think the same applies here with your well written straight to the point, no time wasting response.
    The older kids in my area would say – David that was an epic Slam Dunk.

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