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Article in the Mail on Sunday – Discrimination against Christians




Delighted that this has appeared in the centre of the Mail on Sunday – they asked me to do it on Friday and as far as I can see have printed it as I sent it to them – besides their own editorial.   Very thankful for the Lord providing such opportunities.

Forum for debate? If you’re a Christian, Twitter is the new lynch mob!

The Free Church Moderator takes issue with those who would discriminate against religious believers

The Scottish Mail on Sunday14 Feb 2016

PICTURE the scene. You are a young, enthusiastic, wannabe politician with wonderful gifts. These gifts have propelled you to the top of your party’s list and you are duly selected as the prospective candidate for your local constituency.
And then it begins. Someone spreads the word that you are a Christian and therefore ‘suspect’ on such social mores as samesex marriage and abortion. A few discreet phone calls to party officials and friendly journalists and suddenly you find yourself classed as a regressive Christian bigot and homophobe rather than the enlightened progressive candidate that obviously every politician should be.
This is not fanciful. This is the reality of the politics of ‘tolerance’ that is becoming the staple diet of modern Scotland. Take the case of Sophia Coyle, a prospective Nationalist MSP who has been hounded because she is a Catholic who holds to basic Catholic teaching on abortion and same-sex marriage. The Scottish Green Party said her views called into question her ‘suitability as a public representative’. It reminded me of a friend who was a Green councillor in Brighton and suspended from the party because she did not accept same-sex marriage. Or the prospective Tory MP who wrote asking me to remove her name from a seven-year-old blog because she said that LGBT activists trawled the internet looking to link prospective politicians with noted ‘homophobes’ (ie, anyone who dares to disagree with them).And what about Jim Murphy, the former Scottish Labour leader constantly referred to by militant secularists as ‘the Catholic Jim Murphy’ or ‘the PopeLoving Jim Murphy’.
BUT here’s the rub. It’s not just the party machines, or the power of the media. Take the 18th Century Gordon Riots. After a measure of Catholic emancipation had been passed, Lord Gordon spoke to mass rallies and stirred up a mob antiCatholic feeling, which resulted in anarchy in London and more than 700 people killed. The 21st Century equivalent is social media.
I told the Scottish parliament sub-committee on religious freedom last week my concern is that, while we do not experience the kind of persecution that is so often the norm for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, there is a danger that through ‘salami tactics’ – slice by slice – discrimination is increasing against Christians.
Marxist writer Brendan O’Neill has spoken of ‘the silent war on religion’ driven by two factors, the spread of hate speech legislation and the rise of new and intrusive ‘equality’ laws.
We can see how this works in practice. Everyone knows that your local Sunday School or Women’s Guild is not a hot-bed of Christian radicalism producing warriors for Jesus threatening to bomb our cities. But the Government, in its ‘Prevent’ strategy, feels it has to be fair and treat all religions ‘equally’ – and so all are lumped together.
Tory MP Mark Spencer argued that new banning orders intended to deal with the problem of Islamist terrorism should be used against Christian teachers who tell children gay marriage is wrong. Consider also these chilling words from Polly Harrow, head of safeguarding at Kirklees College in Huddersfield. She was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme if a Muslim who believes homosexuality is wrong should be accepted.
Her chilling answer? ‘If that’s what you think and that’s what you want to believe and you want to hold that in your head, that is your business and your right. But bear in mind that if you speak it out loud you might be breaking the law.’
This is where we have come to in the Land of the Free. You can believe what you want – but if you say it out loud you might be breaking the law.
I have found that if you believe marriage is between a man and a woman; or that killing the baby in the womb is wrong; or that retaining our Christian education system might be a good idea; or that the Creator might have had something to do with the Creation – you are immediately bracketed as an ‘extremist’ Christian on a par with IS. This is the experience of many Christians who do not bow the knee to current social mores and dare to get involved in public life. Sometimes a quiet word is had with the producer, boss or party leader and the person is ‘deselected’ or no longer asked to appear.
I WAS asked to be a regular contributor to a BBC programme but after being ambushed on the issue of the day – transgender rights – and stating that I don’t think it is a good idea to encourage five-year-olds to choose one of 26 genders, I found myself quietly removed (without being told, I was just ‘uninvited’). There was a social media hate campaign that attacked me because of my ‘hateful’ views. It’s ironic that sometimes the best place to experience hate is to go to an anti-hate rally.
In the name of tolerance, the social media mob demand intolerance of anyone who does not share their views. In the name of freedom they insist anyone who does not agree with them should be removed. I recall one incident where a school was being bracketed for attack by a militant secularist group because it had someone who believed the world was created by God.
Or think of last week’s fuss about the appointment of Baptist Christian Dan Walker as presenter of BBC Breakfast. Apparently this was such big news that it warranted several articles in the mainstream broadsheets questioning how someone who believes in a Creator and that Sunday is special could present the news ‘impartially’. Cue social media hysteria.
I happen genuinely to believe in the real British values of freedom, tolerance, equality and diversity. I also believe these fruits have come from the roots of our Christian heritage. Incidentally, I was once banned by a BBC Scotland Thought for the Day producer who said I was not allowed to speak about Britain’s Christian heritage because it might offend someone.
My concern is that once we remove the roots, it will not be long before we lose the fruits.
The removal of the Christianity upon which our society is founded will result in an authoritarian secular state or an authoritarian religious state. Freedom of speech, freedom of ideas and freedom of religion are crucial to the wellbeing of our society. If we do not defend, maintain and promote these foundational freedoms while we have them, we will find that once we have lost them, it will be too late.
David Robertson is the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland.


  1. Excellent article, one of your best yet – clear, incisive, measured, well-written!
    Make it do great good by God’s grace among all the paper’s readers, and beyond.

  2. Good article David. Glad they put it in unedited – that is unusual.

    I have just read Catherine Bennett’s Saturday Guardian hatchet job on Dan Walker, “It’s tricky to trust a presenter who feels God got him the job”. It was a snide, fatuous and intolerant load of drivel, but sadly fairly consistent with current journalistic standards when it comes to reporting on Christians.

    I am tempted to respond by saying that I find it hard to trust a journalist who seems so deeply intolerant of those who hold views which differ from hers. Her own objectivity is clearly highly questionalble. However like many these days who dismiss the Christian faith she clearly has no understanding whatsoever and has probably never even considered the issues.

  3. Stephen Fry closes his twitter account after receiving hate tweets.

    “To leave that metaphor, let us grieve at what twitter has become. A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know. It’s as nasty and unwholesome a characteristic as can be imagined. It doesn’t matter whether they think they’re defending women, men, transgender people, Muslims, humanists … the ghastliness is absolutely the same. It makes sensible people want to take an absolutely opposite point of view. I’ve heard people shriek their secularism in such a way as to make me want instantly to become an evangelical Christian.

    But you’ve let the trolls and nasties win! If everyone did what you did, Stephen, the slab-faced dictators of tone and humour would have the place to themselves. Well, yes and they’re welcome to it. Perhaps then they’ll have nothing to smell but their own smell.
    So I don’t feel anything today other than massive relief, like a boulder rolling off my chest. I am free, free at last.”

    Well, well, well! Is the beast starting to devour itself?

  4. Please leave you fantasy world and look around you. Nobody is persecuting Christians in most countries in the world. In fact it is the other way around, with Christians who routinely persecute other beliefs. What you are call persecution is no more that the lack of the old special privilege that Christians once had in Christian Countries. No when churches are forced to close by public pressure, or people around you are being killed or actively harassed for practicing Christianity, then and only then, will you know what persecution is. So far that is not happening in any country where Christianity is still the majority religion. Making up stories only causes more people to flee from Christianity. The biggest danger to Christianity comes from the quality of the Christians inside the religion. The biggest threat to most any religion comes from within, not from without. Now there are Muslim and Hindu countries where actual persecution happens and I feel sorry for those people, but not for phonies like you screaming Wolf simply because you can no longer ride roughshod over everyone else any more. My own religion is a minority religion and we actually do suffer from some persecution, but in spite of it, we continue to grow without having to sell our religion to anyone and without needing to pressure anyone to join. We work against the persecution by providing truthful information and we work with all religions that are willing to work with us, including many of the Christian denominations that are willing to work with us. We find that that works a lot better than playing the victim card, as you are trying to do here.

    1. Nobody is persecuting Christians in most countries in the world – well there are 52 where Christians are being persecuted – and these include the majority of the worlds population! Who needs to open their eyes?!

      And I am not playing the victim card!

      1. You are aware there are 195 countries in the world. Also going into a non Christian country and trying to convert them is an act of spiritual warfare that causes social unrest and the eventual break up of the society. This method was part and of how European countries came in and took over other people countries and then forced them to give up their religions and customs. Those people did no benefit from the colonies the Christian missionaries helped create by destroying the cultures that they invaded. That form of Christian warfare is no quite common where the Christian Fundamentalists are now active. You would do well to study the History of Christianity.

      2. I have a degree in history – specialising in the History of Christianity – but thanks for the advice! Can I suggest you read some yourself and not just rely on Wiki and Google because the rest of your post is a classic example of historical/hysterical illiteracy!

      3. All of my life long study of history comes through books. I never use the internet unless it comes from a university research. So again you do not know what you are talking about. I am sorry but most Christians are not being persecuted and where they try to do missionary work, then they deserve it as that is spiritual war fare. As for danger to Christianity, the greatest danger for the religion comes always from the action of Christians within the religion, not non-Chirstians. It is the extremism within Christianity that is driving Christians out of the religion, even as extremism within the Islam is driving Muslims out of Islam.

      4. Delighted to hear it! I wonder what books though? Most Christians are not being persecuted….that is of course true, but then I never said they were. However many Christians are being persecuted and not because they are missionaries (what a bizzare idea – what books have you been reading that gave you that idea?). And what books have you been reading that provide the evidence for your assertion that ‘extremism within Christianity is driving Christians out of religion’? I would be most interested in your sources – or is it just something that you are making up?

      5. Not making any of it up, but it comes from stuff that I have read over a great many years. Right now one of the things I have keeping up with is the false accusation of people as witches, that is getting people beaten, tortured and killed in Africa, the South Sea Islands, South America and in Haiti. The witch hunts never ended just changed locations. This seems to include some persons involved in evangelical Christianity in those areas. While women and old women make up the majority of the victims accused, in Ghana there are also thousands of young children being falsely accused and through out out of their houses.

    2. The very first (and only as far as I can see) reference to persecution: “while we do not experience the kind of persecution that is so often the norm for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, there is a danger that through ‘salami tactics’ – slice by slice – discrimination is increasing against Christians.”

      Sitting down, shutting up and doing nothing here on the basis that someone is getting worse elsewhere is not an option. I’m sure you would do as much for your own religious grouping. In fact, you say you provide truthful information. That is as much as the likes of David Robertson do, as there is some utter drivel spouted about what Christians believe in the media etc.

      I think the only person making up a story here is yourself!

  5. Some actual data on persecution of Christians around the world:

    Persecution comes in many forms.
    It can mean losing your job or, less visibly, the threat of losing your job.
    It can mean being taken to court or, less visibly, fear of being taken to court.
    It can mean loss of promotion in your job or, less visibly, fear of losing promotion.
    It can mean being punished for speaking out or, less visibly, fear of being punished.
    It can mean losing friends or, less visibly, fear of losing friends.
    The main weapon used by those opposing Christianity is fear. And let us not delude ourselves into thinking that there is no one out there who is encouraging that fear.

  6. Christopher:
    “…It is the extremism within Christianity that is driving Christians out of the religion, even as extremism within the Islam is driving Muslims out of Islam….”

    Please help me out here. I can’t tell whether either of these alleged phenomena is supposed to be a bad thing? I’m inclined to suspect that if one is, then the other can’t be.

    1. Whenever any group within a religion decide that their interpretation of the religion, or that their practice of the religion is the one right way, they then feel the need to correct others not only within the religion, but often those outside the religion as well. This leads to conflict and often blood shed. In just Christianity alone there are some 30,000 different denominations, nor is this surprising, this is true in religion done through the ages. As a religion moves and spreads it takes on the character of the people and the place it is practiced in. As long as there remains a bit of give to accommodate these differences, there is not problem. But any attempt towards creating an orthrodoxy not only will be violent, but it also will fail over time.

      1. And why would that not be true of atheists? Or humanists? Yours is a fanciful theory without a shred of evidence…but I suspect you will believe it anyway!

      2. Simply a mater of history. I suggest that you have not gone much beyond what you were taught in school and school history in most countries is basically propaganda to justify where the country is now and to paint the ancestors in the best possible like, ignoring most of the evil done by the same people. But then I don’t expect that facts interfere much with you beliefs. By the way It is not limited to religion, fundamentalism can happen in politicians well and in most any group. Yes, I am aware of fundamentalist atheist and so your attempt at distraction does not distract from what I have said at all.

      3. And once again the NFA comes out with sweeping generalisations based upon ignorance and prejudice. Talking about ‘facts’ but offering nothing but ill informed opinions. FYI – I have a degree in history from the University of Edinburgh.

  7. A degree in Christian history. Now does that mean studying the bloodier side of Christianity, or just the nice side of Christianity. By the way care to tell me what you mean by NFA. May I point out that every historian has his own concepts of history usually shown in his doctoral thesis. This become the lens through which he interprets the facts that they studies. So on top of the problem of how accurate remaining historical documents are, also those missing and destroyed documents we then have the historian own views, or slant if you will. As you well know history gets writing by the winning side so we never hear the other side of the story, in some cases the many other sides. So to understand an historical event you often need to read a variety of different views to get an idea of what may be likely to be the truth. That is assuming those other views are still available.

    Christianity had a long history of destroying views that were different even in Christianity, much less those views out side of Christianity. Fortunately some of the ancient literature was saved in Muslim libraries and with the wealth gained by plundering in the Crusades some of the late developing merchant wealth was used to buy new copies of the ancient Greek and Latin scholarship. This would be what would launch the Renaissance. Some of the recovered information would relaunch the the ancient idea of democratic republics that makes up much of the civilized world.

    Meanwhile try not to get too hysterical in your attempted attacks on me as it weakens your positition.

    Meanwhile I was fortunate enough to get a English language translation copy of Emperor Julian’s “Against the Galilaeans.”

    It is a shame one can’t get the whole of it with the attempt of the Christian church to get rid of it. However by studying some of the Church theologians attack against it we can still fill in some of the gaps. Here was a young man raised as a Christian but close enough to surviving Pagan information to do a critique on the new official religion in the empire. It had not yet been made illegal to have Pagan literature, or to practice Pagan religions, though that would come in the next two hundred years as entire libraries were burned, Pagan temples looted, Pagan priests and priestesses were murdered by Christian mobs. That would continue through the spread of Christianity into western Europe.

    1. Actually its a degree in European History with a side speciality on early North African Christianity – but again don’t let facts get in your way! NFA is New Fundamentalist Atheist. And again your post is full of cliches, assertions and no evidence. And yes – I would strongly suggest that you read a variety of views – and then you could avoid just giving us the same old cliches and prejudices. It does get very tiring. Next time you comment on this blog please try to bring some facts and not just your prejudices.

      1. Except that I am not an atheist. By the way Christian historians tend to be biased in favor of Christianity and then to ignore the excesses while often they will do the opposite with what little that they say about Pagan religions. Even to the point that Protestant historians will emphasize Catholic extremes in history while mostly ignoring similar or even greater Protestant ones. National historians often will emphasize the evil by countries that were enemies while neglecting similar evil down by their own country. Again things that I learn by continued study of history.

        Name calling and making your claims about what I do does not affect me. That is resorted to when you cannot make a good argument.

      2. And yet again you just come up with a series of assertions and truisms. Which you expect us just to accept because you say so. How about giving examples? It is of course a truism that all historians have a bias….it is not a fact that Christian historians all are biased in favour of Christianity – indeed I learned about most of the ‘Christian’ atrocities through Christian historians. It seems to me as though you just project your prejudices on to everything!

  8. “….. I never use the internet unless it comes from a university research….”
    This here is the internet, you know 🙂

    1. One has to be very careful about what is posted on the Internet as anyone can post anything and there is a lot of BS on the internet. I refer to it as the fasted rumor mill known to man. So double check anything you do get on the internet, especially from research and see who and where it comes from. University stuff can be very good, but anything else is usually suspect, until double and sometimes triple checked.

  9. …..and don’t assume it must be true or well-reasoned just because it emanates from a university…

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