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Religion in Scots Law and Education



It’s an old truism, that he who pays the piper calls the tune. Therefore it is no surprise that a £40,000 report, Religion in Scots Law, paid for by the Scottish Humanists and ‘researched’ by their own supporters should come up with the pre-determined ‘results’ that they were looking for. However apart from a brief mention of a couple of press releases the response to this report was somewhat underwhelming. The Enlighten Up campaign that it is meant to be part of, has also not taken off. At the time of writing there were just over 1,000 signatories to their petition to remove religious representatives from local education boards, hardly a ringing endorsement from Scotland’s 5.5 million population (and one suspects that people out with Scotland can ‘vote’ as well)…it appears that this subject arouses so little interest than even raising an online mob is difficult!

Enlighten Up

Why does this matter? In this article I don’t want to comment on the whole report, which is well written and provides a lot of information. Instead I want to focus on the Enlighten Up campaign.     On the surface the request seems quite reasonable.   All Scottish councils are required to appoint three religious representatives to their education committees, one from the Church of Scotland, one from the Catholic Church and one from other religious representatives. Why? Why should religious representatives get any ‘special treatment’? The answer is because of the history of the education system in Scotland. In 1872, the Free Church, the Church of Scotland and the other Presbyterian churches handed over all their schools to the State (the Catholics wisely decided not to trust the State and kept their own system). As the system developed it was agreed that there should be religious representatives and this was reaffirmed in the 1973 Education Act.

What many people don’t realize is that Scotland’s education system was, and is, self-consciously Christian, with Christian acts of worship, a Christian ethos and the religious representatives on the councils.

The Humanists are now demanding that this agreement be removed because we are less religious.

Make no mistake about it; this is part of their continued campaign to remove all traces of Christianity from public life and especially education. They want all children to be educated in secular humanist schools.   This is what they mean when they declare,

“it’s important that all pupils receive equal and comprehensive schooling, regardless of where they live or the religion of their parents.”

In case you wonder what this piece of Orwellian newspeak means they elaborate –

“In order to challenge prejudice and ignorance it is important that children learn about the values and beliefs which inform the world around us.”

They call this ‘inclusive education’. What they really mean is that all our children are to be educated according to their values (pro- abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro LGBTI+) and anyone who holds a different view of life, gender or sexuality must be excluded – all in the name of inclusion.

Its almost beyond irony that they go on to say,

“a crucial part of this is high-quality and inclusive Religious and Moral Education which teaches children how to think, not what to think.”

This is precisely what is not happening with the current shift away from a Christian ethos in education to a secular humanist one. In the secular humanist ethos, education is viewed as an arm of the state to put forward the secular humanist agenda and engage in social engineering.   Delivering ‘equality’ means providing compulsory ‘LGBTI+’ equality and diversity lessons. Social cohesion means sidelining Christian beliefs to be taught as myth in the history or RME classroom.   And no deviation from this state approved new morality will be allowed.

Christians have always been interested in education.

The Humanists on the other hand have never built any schools (nor for that matter hospitals, or food banks). Instead, cuckoo like, they want to take over the whole Scottish Christian education system. Like all fundamentalists they cannot abide the thought that anyone might think differently from them. They don’t mind us being Christians as long as we are on the level of a knitting club or a Trekkie society. They want to exclude all Christianity from public life. Hence their ridiculous, intolerant, witch-hunt ‘hit list’ of religious representatives they want removed.

Why should the 15,000 humanists (0.25% of Scotland’s population) determine what the rest of us should be taught?

Let them have their own schools but why should the 2.5 million Scots who identify as Christian not have the choice to educate our children in the traditional Scottish Christian education system?

This is not just about Christians protecting our children; we are concerned for the good of the whole of society. It is no coincidence that as the metro-elites have largely abandoned Christianity and schools have become more secularized, there has been a significant decline in educational standards. If the militant humanists get their way our children will be lead into a new Dark Ages rather than a new enlightenment. Scotland’s children deserve better than the fanciful doctrines of humanism. For the sake of the children, the poor and indeed the whole of our society, we need more Christianity, not less in the Scottish Education system.

It may be that the Humanists are right and that the infiltration of an anti-Christian ethos into our education system is so deep that it will be impossible to turn around.   If that is the case then we ask simply that we go back to the drawing board and that Christians are once again allowed to have Christian schools – state funded as in enlightened nations such as the Netherlands. Let the humanists have theirs and let’s see which ones parents will choose.   What is not acceptable is that the State education system should be used to indoctrinate children into a state sponsored secular humanist dogma.

If the government listens to the intolerance of the humanists, we simply ask, can we have our schools back?

This article first appeared in the Free Church Record in May 2016 




  1. It’s all very well pointing to the history of Scottish schools which was very important but this is the present and now the government funds the schools via councils of elected people. Surely those who fund the system should be the ones who superintend it. There is no case to retain this system of unelected people now.

    Of course, any church leaders of others that think they should sit on board, could always stand for election like everyone else. That way they would gain the authority of the people for what they want to do…

  2. I will leave your comments about Enlighten Up alone as they are par for the misinformed course (although I see you have got a more accurate figure for HSS membership compared to your article last week) but even with your limited comments above, the Religion in Scots Law report needs to be evaluated much more fairly rather than nearly dismissed due to who funded it.

    The main researcher was Thomas Green and he wasnt a humanist when he was recruited to write the report. From his bio – Dr Green completed an MTh in historical theology and a PhD in ecclesiastical history at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh between 2004 and 2010. His PhD on the Court of the Commissaries of Edinburgh during the era of the Scottish Reformation was funded by The Stair Society, and was supervised by Professors Jane Dawson (Divinity) and John Cairns (Law). Between 2011 and 2014, Dr Green held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh, during which time he undertook research on… the Scottish Ecclesiastical Polity.

    I interviewed him (which was odd as he was very much more qualified than I was – as was the rest of the candidates for that research post) for the post which was openly advertised in academic circles. He challenged the panel on the purpose of the report and how his research was to be interpreted as he wanted to be sure he didnt become the humanist stooge you think he is. I don’t know why you cannot see past your own prejudices to see that you are insulting at least two academics here. Jane Mair was not a member either but has a strong academic track record in law and discrimination as well as the role of religion in family law. Callum Brown is indeed a humanist and a member and that was never hidden. However, you seem to think that even he would put his academic career at risk by publishing a research report that was in some way dishonest. Why do you dislike humanists so much that you are prepared to traduce the work of three academics. I may as well criticise the academic work of John A. MacLeod on the Psalms because as member of the Free Church of Scotland his view of the Psalms is coloured by his belief in the Bible. I don’t because I don’t criticise people in the uninformed way that you delight in doing.

    PS. Why do you get the Humanist Society Scotland name wrong consistently yet moan when others refer to the Free Church of Scotland in terms you disagree with? Its a tad hypocritical.

    1. But, Douglas,
      David hasn’t traduced these three academics at all in his article, nor IMHO can he have harmed their academic reputation. Academic reputation rests far more on the research itself – methods used, care taken, problems dealt with – than it does on the conclusion reached. It would be a poor day in Science, for example, if funding for many projects were not to be forthcoming from large corporations with a vested interest in the results of the research. It would not be good either, if the scientific community rejected the research just because of who paid for it. On the other hand, no progress would be made if other researchers, having reproduced the results, were therefore compelled to endorse the conclusions also.
      David is not saying that the researchers lied about the work that they did; merely that he disagrees with what ought to be a controversial finding.

      As a fellow reader of David’s article I write to reassure you: if David thinks the researchers are dishonest he’s done a very good job concealing it.


  3. RME is a new and unwelcome development to me. As much as I support state schooling, the notion that the state can teach morality is an absurd overreach unless you believe the state is god.

  4. Medic, prof Sir Muir Gray was concerned at the lack of properly independent, peer reviewed research, so he was instrumental in setting-up the Cochrane Collaboration to develop the Cochrane Library to support evidence based medicine with rigorous declaration of interests. From recollection, it didn’t, however, seem to embrace qualitative research as much as quantitative.

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