Ethics Newspaper/Magazine Articles Politics

The Religion of Human Rights is Anti- Democratic – Article in Scotsman

This article is in today’s can read the original and comment Here


The religion of Human Rights is anti-democratic Protesters take part in an anti-terror and Human Rights march in Germany.  The elites tell themselves how they ‘care for the poor’, but they want to nanny them, says David Robertson.

There is a new religion in town. It alone knows the truth. It is intolerant, authoritarian and anti-democratic.
Like many of its cult-like forbears in the West it has its roots in Christianity but has become quite specifically anti-Christianity– the child seeking to devour the mother. It is very powerful and holds sway amongst many of the academic, political and economic elites. It’s the religion of Human Rights.

Why call human rights, surely de facto a good thing, a religion? Because it carries all the hallmarks of the narrowest of fundamentalist religions. Human rights are of course a good thing – just like peace, love and justice are good things. The major difficulty is that the term Human Rights is used as though it were self-evident what it means. But it isn’t.

Let’s just take one example – abortion. Is it a human right for a mother to be able to take the life of her child in the womb? If you understand that the baby in the womb is just a blob, a clump of cells, then there is no problem for you. I am not going to rehearse all the arguments here, but this issue is just one that challenges the narrative of those who believe that human rights are self-evidently obvious.

The question then moves on from what, to whom. Who decides what human rights are? The answer is of course those in power. The wealthy elites. Those who control the media, politics and the academic, legal, arts and economic establishments are the ones who determine what the rights are for the rest of us. The danger of this is that is becomes a self-perpetuating elite that negates democracy. In a debate on abortion I was told that ‘you don’t get to vote on abortion’. This new authoritarian religion means that ordinary people don’t get to vote on many major social, political and economic issues. Who cares about how people vote or what elected representatives do – all the elites have to do is go to the unelected institutions to overcome democracy and get their way anyway.

Why does this matter? Because when we live in a technocratic rather than a democratic state it is the poor, the powerless and the marginalised that suffer the most. The elites will of course tell themselves how much they ‘care for the poor’, but they want to nanny them, not empower them. You don’t get to vote on what the Establishment has already decided.

If we refuse to regress to the idea that the state determines morality and creates its own human rights religion, then is there an alternative? Where does morality come from? The Christian answer was and is, God. An absolute morality is the only way to prevent the rich and powerful determining morality for us all. The West was able to develop concepts of freedom, equality, diversity and tolerance because of its Christian heritage. If we replace that religion with a human rights religion, which takes the fruit of Christianity without the roots, we will soon find that the fruit too will wither, and we will be left with an authoritarian, anti-democratic elitist technocracy that damages society and humanity. It’s time to return to our roots.


David Robertson is a former Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland. He blogs at

Read more at:

The Scotsman 200 19.6.17


  1. A elequently susinct observation of our western 21st century society.
    Startlingly sad but scarely true.

    The implication being as we sow, so shall we wreap. There is a consequence for every sociaty who turn away from God. Aragonce breeds Aragonce and wickedness breeds wickedness. Without the moral adsolutes God laid down for us in the Bible we are all at sea without a moral compass blown and tossed about by every wind of thought that prevails this week.
    There is a point of no return. Pilots call it BINGO. After this point there is not enough fuel to get back to a safe place. I fear like sodum, we are reaching a point of no return. Like Sodum, I fear it will not go well for us.

    Father forgive us for turning our back on you, in Jesus name I pray, amen.

  2. How about the Human Responsibility Act that Jesus propounds and promotes? It doesn’t give counter -part rights, but an answerability to and before Him.

  3. Good article, summing upthe issues we face. Tule by lawyers, I wonder what the name for that is!

    A small cavill, I would have used the word ‘believe’ or ‘think’ instead of ‘understand’ in your sentence about abortion. But I know what you mean.

  4. Dominic,

    It’s called the “Rule of Law”, not rule by lawyers, as Jesus made abundantly clear.

  5. One should not be surprised by the use of the word ‘religion’ when the subject of Human Rights is mentioned, as in the above title.

    This may be because the Marxists who promote the Human Rights ruse regard their anti – human political doctrine in a similar way to that of fanatical religious adherents.

    Socialism , with the Supernatural element excised but with considerable religious residue such as pro – ‘underdog’ sentimentality and reverence for the Poor ( but not necessarily in Spirit ) , is inevitably an irreligious religion. Of course, Human Rights do not exist in Nature and therefore must be conferred , usually selectively, by Socialists.

    When one thinks of words like ” Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven”, Democracy may not, however, be the first Governmental model which springs to mind.

    1. I think you are confused. Human rights are part of the libralist tradition, routed in the Lockian ideology of life, liberty and the right to property and are thus heavily individualistic (with the exception perhaps of ESCR) rather than socialist/Marxist tradition which is based on more collectivist principles and anti- the right to property or am I the one who is mistaken?

  6. The fundamental question which the secularists cannot answer is, “Where do human rights come from?” The American Constitution might declare that they are self-evident but that clearly is not the case. Why should a collection of cells have any ‘rights’? And don’t forget that if one person has a right then other people have a corresponding duty towards that person. But why should one random collection of cells have a duty towards another random collection of cells?
    You are right about the elites being anti-democratic. A case in point is the redefinition of marriage. No political party put in its 2010 manifesto a commitment to redefine marriage and I’ll bet that very few candidates, if any, mentioned the subject in their election literature. None of the candidates in my constituency did. And what about 2015? Or 2017? Any candidate mention the word ‘transgender’ in their election literature? And yet we are told by these same elites that ‘transgenderism’ is now one of the most important issues which must be tackled. So how come they don’t talk about it to the voters?

  7. Letter to Scotsman in response to the article:

    D. Robertson makes sweeping unsubstantiated statements about undefined groups he terms ‘elites’ while declaring that human rights is a ‘narrow fundamentalist religion’. These ‘elites’, whoever they may be, are also accused of having no regard for the poor, an assertion Robertson does not trouble to validate.

    Robertson suggests human rights are ill defined, when in fact they are very clearly defined, e.g. in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). These may not be perfect documents, but they have been ratified and adopted by the UK as part of a democratic process. It’s not at all clear why Robertson thinks human rights are undemocratic – is it because one person erroneously told him he could not vote on abortion? I suspect one person’s view is not enough to keep this juggernaut from the ballot box!

    Article 2 of the UDHR protects Robertson’s right to choose his religious convictions and Article 18 protects his right not only to follow his religion not only in the private but the public sphere. He fully exercises those human rights and enjoys a great deal of freedom to promulgate his views in the pulpit, on the Internet and in Holyrood committee rooms.

    I suspect the real problem he has with human rights is their protections against discrimination (Article 7 of the UDHR), especially as he is quite outspoken in his discrimination against gays through his opposition to equal marriage, gays in the ministry and inclusive education in schools.

    Jeannie Mackenzie

    1. Thanks Jeannie – your letter confirms what I was saying…although you miss the main point – that if something is perceived as a human right – then it is not subject to democratic vote. You are unable to tell us where human rights come from. And you of course ‘discriminate’ when you refuse to allow those who hold to a Christian view of marriage and sexuality to teach that view in schools. But then, as I said, you believe that your discrimination is right.

      1. No, I don’t believe I do miss the point! Human rights as defined in the UDHR and the ECHR are not simply ‘perceived’, they have been codified in documents that have been ratified by the UK government as part of a democratic process. To say that they are ‘undemocratic’ is misleading. In fact democracy is one of the core values and principles of the UN and therefore of the UDHR.

        Nor do I discriminate against those who hold YOUR particular view of marriage and sexuality to promulgate it in both private and public spheres – indeed, as I said above, the UDHR gives you those very protections. But you discriminate in that you would deny those who hold different views on marriage and sexuality to teach those in schools, thereby denying them the human rights you enjoy. I say ‘your views’ advisedly. They are not the views held by all Christians, nor by all Christian denominations.

        I know we won’t agree on this so there is little point in discussing it on this forum, however, when a friend drew my attention was drawn to your diatribe against human rights in the press, I believed it was only responsible to correct the inaccuracies in your article.

      2. But you are both missing and proving my point. What is the ‘democratic process’ which is used to ratify the UDHR? Is this the same UN that has Saudi Arabia as its chair of humans rights committee?! The point of the article is that democracy comes second to these perceived human rights. I find it interesting that you think that different views on marriage and sexuality should be allowed to be taught in schools – this is precisely my viewpoint – but it is not the view of either the Scottish or UK governments who would only permit one view. It was kind of you to try and correct my inaccuracies. The reason you failed is that they do not exist!

  8. 1 Mike: an excellent contribution with truth that has been overlooked, ignored, forgotten.

    2. Progressive Humanism – on which human rights are based – ” Requires A Greater Leap of Faith than anything in Religion.”

    Here is a section of a remarkable abstract of an essay by political philosopher John Gray, found in his book “Gray’s Anatomy” It lays bare and sharply debunks, demolishes, progressive humanism:

    “The evidence of science and history is that humans are only ever partly and intermittently rational, but for modern humanists the solution is simple: human beings must in future be more reasonable. These enthusiasts for reason have not noticed that the idea that humans may one day be more rational requires a greater leap of faith than anything in religion. Since it requires a miraculous breach in the order of things, the idea that Jesus returned from the dead is not as contrary to reason as the notion that human beings will in future be different from how they have always been …

    To expect humanists to give up their myths would be unreasonable. Like cheap music, the myth of progress lifts the spirits as it numbs the brain. The fact that rational humanity shows non sign of ever arriving only makes humanists cling more fervently to the conviction that humankind will someday be redeemed from unreason. Like believers in flying saucers, they interpret the non-event as confirming their faith …

    Science is a solvent of illusion, and among the illusions it dissolves are those of humanism. Human knowledge increases, while human irrationality stays the same. Scientific inquiry may be an embodiment of reason, but what such inquiry demonstrates is that humans are not rational animals. The fact that humanists refuse to accept the demonstration only confirms its truth.”

    This is taken from a fuller abstract of Gray’s essay cited on Andrew Wilson’s blog, today, here:

  9. Well, I did not really want to continue this discussion here, but it is difficult to do so when you continue to distort what I am saying! I was challenging the notion in your Scotsman article that human rights are ‘decided by elites’ and are ‘perceived to be human rights’. You said:

    ‘Who decides what human rights are? The answer is of course those in power. The wealthy elites. Those who control the media, politics and the academic, legal, arts and economic establishments are the ones who determine what the rights are for the rest of us.’

    I was trying to be gracious and gentle with my language in saying this was inaccurate, but it is much worse – it is deliberately misleading.

    You try to divert attention by criticising members of the UN – but I did not say the UN was a perfect organisation, nor that the UDHR was a perfect document! I was simply saying this is one of the documents on which we base the UK’s approach to human rights. And yes, the decisions to adopt or relinquish human rights ARE democratic in the sense that they these decisions are taken by our elected representative and those appointed by our elected representatives, not, as you suggest by the media, academic, lawyers etc. For example the Tory government originally wanted to take us out of the ECHR and they may yet be successful in doing so.

    As for schools, there is no Scottish Governement or UK directive that forbids teaching about Christian marriage in schools! In Scotland RME remains a statutory duty and Christianity is the only named religion in the latest SG guidance on RME.

    I am bowing out of this discussion now, because, as I said before, we are never likely to agree on this. Time to shake the dust off my sandals!

    1. Jeannie thanks again – but how am I ‘distorting what you are saying’? You answered the question of who determines what human rights are by citing the UN – and praising it as democratic. I simply pointed out that this is highly unlikely given that the chair of the UN Human Rights committee is Saudi Arabia. You them completely miss the point – our human rights are not determined by democratic vote – that was the point of the article. In the US the Supreme Court and in the UK the Supreme Court and the EU Court can and do override democratic votes. Who decides that abortion is a ‘human right’? Or SSM?

      Your knowledge of what goes on in Scottish schools is somewhat dated. You understand that the purpose of TIE is to prevent the Christian view on marriage and sexuality being taught.

      Of course we are not going to agree – especially if you refuse to listen to facts which contradict your narrative. And especially if you misquote Scripture – shaking the dust of your sandals applies to those who reject the Gospel….not to those who refuse to accept that the elites can tell us what human rights are or should be!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: