Newspaper Letters

The Great Secular Debate Continues – More Letters in The Courier

Sir, – David Robertson (October 7) says “secular society” denies human rights.

Does he think that non-secular ones, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, respect these?Secularism means separation of religion and state powers, with neither of these able to control the other.

The Free Church of Scotland was founded by people who disliked the cosy relationship between the Church of Scotland and Government. They were then secularists.

Christians, through most of their history, have been intolerant of those who disagreed with them and deniers of human rights.The Church of Scotland insisted on the execution of James Aikenhead for saying the Bible is fiction.

David Strauss, whose later book made the same claim, was dismissed from his professorship and not allowed to work again. The Pilgrim Fathers in the US persecuted Quakers.

Until the 19th Century, British Roman Catholics were prohibited from practising their faith in the UK.Only 25 years ago the Free Church of Scotland used underhand methods to stop Bahais in Lewis having a meeting place.

In the American Bible Belt, any atheist would be wise not to say so. Secularists have no common philosophy/ agenda.Many profess religious faith. Those who don’t vary just as much in their ideas as those who do.

The Scottish Secular Society no more represents the views of most secularists, or atheists, than the Free Church of Scotland does of most Christians.Both are tiny, fringe groups.

Walter Markham. Atholl Road, Pitlochry.

This was an almost impossible letter to respond to as it contained so many red herrings, falsehoods and strawmen.  In my response I tried to focus on the main issues.  The following was published yesterday.

Dear Editor,

I hope you will allow me to correct William Markham when he states that I said ‘secular society denies human rights’, and then goes on to portray me asa a defender of Islamic theocracies such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. I said no such thing. I was arguing that the Scottish Secular Society, a small anti-religious group, are opposed to the human rights of parents to have their children educated according to their faith, not secular society in general.

Like Mr Markham I too want to live in a secular society, where church and state are separate, but the question remains, what kind of secular society? Is it to be one based on the godless materialism of our modern atheistic secularists, or one based upon Christian teaching? Under the former we will find that Christians and others are discriminated against and that we have no problem in selling arms to Islamic states who persecute and kill Christians. Under the latter concepts of tolerance, equality and social justice have developed.

Before Scotland rejects its Christian heritage, we should at least know what we are rejecting it for. Atheistic fantasies do not have a good track record in the modern world!

Yours etc

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

You can follow the previous debates here –

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