Christmas Cheer and Encouragement – News Report and Editorial in The Herald

Sometimes one feels like a voice shouting in the wilderness, thinking that no-one is listening, and then something like this happens.  The Herald not only picked up on my Christmas message, but also at least in part commended it in its editorial.  For those who know the Scottish newspaper scene that is almost miraculous.   The report and editorial are below – as is the one from The Scottish Daily Mail.

The message on which this based can now be found on The Free Church Website

The Herald – 22 Dec 2015

Herald 22-12-15 - Social Media mob stifling public debate

Church leader: Mob mentality of social media blocks free speech The Herald 22 Dec 2015

A senior church figure has said in his Christmas message that freedom of speech will be damaged by the “mob mentality” of social media. Free Church of Scotland Moderator Rev David Robertson claimed restraints on people voicing their thoughts has created a “monochrome society” where diverse views may be stifled by broad public opinion.

The Dundee minister said the message was one of “equality, diversity and freedom to set people free from such tyranny”. Mr Robertson said in the annual message: “As I listen to the same opinions, delivered by the same people with the same certainty, in their own media ‘safe spaces’, I cannot but wonder how monochrome we are becoming as a society. “Just as the ‘free market’ has meant the devastation of our high streets and the removal of diverse local shops, so the need to instil the new morality in our schools is reducing them to a monochrome dullness. “Social media combined with the increasing power of the rich has resulted in a mob mentality which threatens anyone who dares to be against the ‘equality and diversity’ agenda, thus ironically seeking to prevent any real diversity from the social and moral mores handed down from those who govern us.”

He said that faith in Jesus Christ was different because there is ‘real and genuine diversity’ among his followers. Mr Robertson said: “Because we are in him we don’t have to be all the same. “Equality is one of the great mantras of our society – and yet the more we shout about it, the less it happens. “The gap between rich and poor increases and as this is accompanied by a decline in public services it means that for the poor it is even worse. “ He added that poorer education, healthcare and job opportunities were not “good news” for those living in poverty.

The minister added: “Our liberal elites talk about equality, but have failed to deliver it. “So why does Christ deliver equality? “Because all human beings are made in the image of God, all are created by him and for him, and all have the potential to be redeemed and renewed creatures fit for eternity.”

Mr Robertson added that he was praying the people of Scotland receive God’s gifts and that in a year’s time the country would be in a better and happier place. He added: “Of course all the gifts are dependent on the greatest gift of all – Christ himself. That is what Christmas is all about. “Whatever other gifts we receive let us pray that we will all receive Him in all his beauty, gentleness and glory. “As the carol says ‘where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in’.”

The church leader also said that Christmas at one time had either been banned or hardly celebrated in Scotland. He referred to the late writer and religious critic Christopher Hitchens, who had argued that this was because Scots Presbyterians were against partying and drinking. Mr Robertson added: “He clearly had never been here on Hogmanay.       “I remember as a child thinking that New Year was far more important and exciting. “Sometimes when I see the exploitation and farce of much of today’s Christmas celebrations I am tempted to think that our forefathers had a point.”

The Herald Editorial:
Herald 22-12-15 - Leader Opinion

 

The power of the online mob The Herald 22 Dec 2015 WE don’t need reminding that, for all its power for good, the internet has a darker underside: trolls, who can anonymously post vitriolic abuse and threats in the direction of those with whom they disagree, or those they merely happen to dislike. The distinguished classicist, Mary Beard, knows what this entails. The author Jon Ronson wrote a perceptive book about online shaming and was himself subjected to an online witch-hunt. Many women have been subjected to misogynistic abuse on social media. Such outlets have also given an immense voice and power to the herd-mentality instinct. Comedian Al Murray earlier this year criticised the mob mentality on social media for attacking free speech, adding that people were “weaponising” their anger if they took offence at something in the public domain.

Now the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland has warned of this herd approach. Rev David Robertson targets atheist groups which, he says, seek to instil a new morality in Scottish schools – one in which, he alleges, dissent from secular humanism will not be tolerated; Scotland is becoming a “monochrome society” with no real freedom of speech because of the “mob mentality” of social media and ruling elites, which threatens anyone who opposes the “equality and diversity” agenda.

We have, fortunately, a long way to go before we become a monochrome society devoid of freedom of speech. But Mr Robertson’s wider point is well taken. How do you counter the mob mentality? By mobilising fierce arguments of your own? Can, in fact, the power of the mob be overcome? The Moderator’s own thoughts – “In Christ things are different. There is real and genuine diversity. Because we are in him we don’t have to be all the same” – have much to commend them, but it may take more than that to stand up to a mob in full online cry.

Scottish Daily Mail – 22 Dec 2015

Scottish Daily Mail 22-12-15 - Twitter mob puts free speech in peril
Twitter ‘mob’ puts free speech in peril

SCOTLAND is becoming a ‘monochrome society’ with no real freedom of speech, according to one of the country’s leading churchmen.

The Reverend David Robertson, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, blamed the ‘mob mentality’ of social media users and ruling elites for quashing diverse debate. Celebrities such as JK Rowling and politicians including the late Charles Kennedy and Labour’s Margaret Curran have all been the target of vile online ‘trolls’ on Facebook and Twitter.
It is this that Mr Robertson addressed in his Christmas message. The Dundee minister said: ‘As I listen to the same opinions, delivered by the same people with the same certainty, in their own media “safe spaces”, I cannot but wonder how monochrome we are becoming as a society.
‘Just as the free market has meant the devastation of our high streets and the removal of diverse local shops, so the need to instil the new morality in our schools is reducing them to a monochrome dullness.
‘Social media combined with the increasing power of the rich has resulted in a mob mentality which threatens anyone who dares to be against the “equality and diversity” agenda, thus ironically seeking to prevent any real diversity from the social and moral mores handed down from those who govern us.’
He continued: ‘Equality is one of the great mantras of our society – and yet the more we shout about it, the less it happens.
‘The gap between rich and poor increases and as this is accompanied by a decline in the public services, it means that for the poor it is even worse: poorer education, poorer health care and poorer job opportunities are not good news for the poor.‘Our liberal elites talk about equality but have failed to deliver it.’
Turning to the way in which the festive season is now celebrated, Mr Robertson said: ‘There was a time when Christmas was either banned or hardly celebrated in Scotland.‘Sometimes when I see the exploitation and farce of much of today’s Christmas celebrations I am tempted to think that our forefathers had a point. ‘However, I believe they got it wrong and that Christmas is a wonderful time of year to remember the birth of Christ and to consider the light that has come into the darkness.’
Mr Robertson is minister of St Peter’s Free Church, Dundee.

Note:  The absolute delicious irony of the fact that my article about the mob mentality and abuse on social media was met by a storm of abuse on social media from the usual secularist/atheistic mob.  It would be funny if it were not so pathetic!

In addition The Times also picked up on this and gave the following report:

Web censors ‘trying to shut everyone up’
The Times 23 Dec 2015

The author of a book extolling the joys of swinging has made an unlikely alliance with the presbyterian Free Church of Scotland over the evils of social media.

Ewan Morrison, the author and scriptwriter whose work Swung is being made into a film, said social media was in the grip of censors who “swarm and attack” those with opinions they dislike. His comments echo those of the Rev David Robertson, the moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, who said that social media “mobs” were stifling debate.
Morrison, whose 2007 novel was partly based on his own experiences, said: “I’m very much against the idea that there are correct modes of behaviour that we have to police. People swarm and attack on social media. I get messages all the time from people who are really concerned about the new censorship. In Scotland that was originally done by the Kirk, but now, increasingly, it’s done by online social justice warriors who are out there telling us what to think.”
He said that a single post on Twitter could lead to people being banned from universities, as happened to Germaine Greer.
“These people are confused in their reasoning,” he said. “They just have this pure idea that they are making the world a better place through their own objections. They are shutting everybody up and attempting to rewrite history. People are terrified, especially in academia. They are terrified of saying anything that would offend.”
In his Christmas message, Mr Robertson said: “As I listen to the same opinions, delivered by the same people with the same certainty, in their own media ‘safe spaces’, I wonder how monochrome we are becoming as a society. Just as the free market has meant the devastation of our high streets and the removal of diverse local shops, so the need to instil the new morality in our schools is reducing them to a monochrome dullness.
“Social media combined with the increasing power of the rich has resulted in a mob mentality which threatens anyone who dares to be against the ‘equality and diversity’ agenda, thus ironically seeking to prevent any real diversity from the mores handed down from those who govern us.”
Mr Robertson, minister of St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, added that he had since been abused on social media for delivering his message.
Murdo Fraser, the conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, and an active Twitter user, said that social media platforms were “the 21st century equivalent of the baying mob carrying pitchforks and flaming torches”. Keyboard activists of all political stripes were guilty of hounding opponents online, he said.

 

 

10 thoughts on “Christmas Cheer and Encouragement – News Report and Editorial in The Herald

  1. ““In Christ things are different. There is real and genuine diversity. Because we are in him we don’t have to be all the same” – have much to commend them, but it may take more than that to stand up to a mob in full online cry.”

    That’s an encouragement indeed to see the affirmation made about the “mob mentality” and commendation about Christ. Perhaps that also offers a challenge to show how diversity can work whilst being unified “in Christ”.

  2. Great article. Truth well spoken. God Bless you and your ministry. Well done to all the newspapers for continuing to publish your articles. Refreshing to read biblical truth written so clearly.Have a great Christmas. You deserve it for all the hard work you put in and all the flak you take.

  3. Well done once again David, and thank you Lord for favour with the media!

    A blessed, peaceful Christmas to all at St Peter’s and Solas from the Pray for Scotland team!

    Alistair

  4. Well done again David. Head well and truly above the parapet so expect some incoming! “Who will take a stand for me against evildoers? Unless the Lord had given me help I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Ps 94:16

  5. Thank you again, David.

    If I were truly a secular humanist I’d wonder where my hatred came from!

    Would I be surprised, shocked that it came from my own superiority, self virtuous pride I doubt it. For as CS Lewis said, whoever “sees through” everything, sees nothing.

    And yes there is only a true unity in diversity, a university, in Christ Jesus. Do we like the reality that we are all equal before God, all in Adam or in the second Adam. And the choice is……?

    May you and your family “know the peace that is beyond understanding,” “a Sabbath rest” in Christ our LORD , know Immanuel and enjoy Him.

    Geoff

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