Calvinism Equality Politics Scotland Sex and sexuality The Free Church

The Tartan Taliban?

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 13.34.59John Nicholson an SNP leader and former MP showed just what the new campaign of tolerance, respect and love means for the SNP and Scottish Government when yesterday on the Andrew Marr show he referred to Christians in the Western Isles as ‘the Tartan Taliban’.

For those who are not able to access the BBC Iplayer through the link above here is a transcript of his remarks.

This is a man in suspenders walking through Stornoway….Stornoway is not a place where men wear suspenders. …(at this point Andrew Marr said that it was staunchly Free Presbyterian  – not quite accurate –  to which Nicholson responded.)

…some  refer to them as the Tartan Taliban…it is a place of dour Presbyterianism….very good values…strongly Christian place…but also tinged with intolerance historically…so the idea that you have a gay pride march through Stornoway is just kind of mind-blowing for anyone who knows the islands.  It just shows how much Scotland has changed and how welcome that change is…

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Mr Nicholson’s remarks betray an ignorance and prejudice which belies his parties claim to be the campaign of tolerance, equality and inclusivity.  As their poster campaign indicates this inclusivity is quite exclusive, its tolerance intolerant and its equality is only for some.   To use the stereotype of ‘dour Presbyterianism’ is lazy bigotry.  I suggest he read Alaister McIntosh’s Poachers Pilgrimage in order to educate himself how to speak respectfully about islanders he disagrees with.   It was a discriminatory and prejudiced remark which, under their own dumb criteria, should be reported to Police Scotland as a ‘hate incident’…but I can’t be bothered.

51FULCTjCaLI would also suggest that he read up about the real Taliban.  Then he would realise that they perhaps have more in common with his party than the good Christians of Lewis.  The Christians are not planting bombs, killing people, oppressing women or killing homosexuals. Neither are the SNP but the Taliban are also a fundamentalist nationalist political movement in Afghanistan – fighting to liberate their country from a bigger nation.   They don’t tolerate any deviation from their ideology and they speak of being part of a wider international movement which they think will take over the world.  They believe they are the ones on the ‘right side of history’.

When it comes to intolerance in Scotland it’s not the good people of the Western Isles, (who have their beliefs but have always shown kindness to those who disagree), but the Cybernats who are the most abusive.   John Nicholson may mock the traditional Christians who have made the island what it is, but they are not the ones threatening violence or using abusive and intolerant language.  What about the Scottish National Liberation Army?  Or Settler Watch – remember Sonja Cameron the racist anti-English campaigner who was expelled from the party and a couple of years ago readmitted?   Mr Nicholson should.

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I have just listened to Humsa Yousaf, the Justice Secretary,  speak to the SNP Rally/Conference in Glasgow.  It was all the usual sound bites and telling us what a wonderful place Scotland is because it is governed by one of the most progressive parties in Europe.  The justice secretary urged the followers to celebrate our diversity – immigrants, gay people, downs syndrome, the Catholic community and women – misogyny is to be made hate crime.   All of course cheered to the rafters.  All wonderful stuff – but let’s go a bit deeper.   If you want to support people with Downs Syndrome why do you want to make it easier for them to be killed in the womb?  If you are so pro-Catholic do you accept Catholic teaching that SSM is wrong and sinful and abortion is murder?  Why is it impermissible to make jokes about Glasgow Catholics but permissible to do so for Lewis Calvinists (just the number of votes)?     If misogyny is to be a hate crime, what about misandry?  Is it ok to hate men?

Mr Yousaf said “Every EU national in Scotland know this, that Scotland values you and your families and we will continue to fight for your rights”.    Excellent.  I would hope this would apply to people from other countries as well.  And also those from Scotland.  Perhaps the justice secretary can say to those of us who are Christians that Scotland IMG_4012values us and our families and will continue to fight for our rights?    The Conference has just had a speaker condemning the Tories for making Britain hostile to migrants.  What about the Scottish government and the State Police making Scotland hostile to biblical Christians?   I feel as though I am an alien and a stranger in my own country.  I am as welcome as a Tory would be at the Glasgow Rally.    My views are despised and mocked by those who pride themselves on how tolerant and diverse they are.    They don’t engage with these views because they don’t engage.   It’s all emotion, feeling and identity politics.

They keep talking about ‘where we are going being more important than where we are from’.   But what about those of us who are not going where this new Progressive SNP is going?  We  who don’t want to regress down the progressive route that the SNP are determined to enforce upon us.   Does that mean that we are not Scotland?  Even if we are born here, bred here, educated here and have spent our lives serving here?

What depresses me almost as much as the intolerance is the shallow, superficial and demeaning criteria used for progress.   John Nicholson thinks that a man parading in suspenders down the streets of Stornoway is ‘progress’!  I think it is demeaning and shameful.  God have mercy.

How should the Church React to Inverness and Stornoway Gay Pride marches?




  1. David, I’m sure you’ve summed up the way a lot of us Christians feel about Scotland today. SNP and its vicious nationalist politics has spread nothing but division and hatred of an intensity I have never known – and I have lived in and around Glasgow all my life. Something has happened to this country over the past 20 years which does not bode well for the future. It still makes me angry to think of the self satisfied, complacent George Robertson assuring us all that Devolution would kill nationalism stone dead. It was this complacency that was about to meet its end, as Labour was soon to find out, to be replaced by a new, dangerous political arrogance. You are correct, the SNP does see itself as a party of progression but where is it progressing to? I know one thing, I don’t want to go there and I don’t want to be there when it arrives.

    1. I don’t think it is because they are nationalist….I share that view….however the party seems to have been taken over by ultra progressives who are more obsessed with the EU and Progressive policies than they are with an independent Scotland.

  2. Ive met this guy here in EastDunbartonshire he is a bigot , and an obnoxioous person. he is anti Tory, anti Westminster anti christian values. So glad we got rid of him as an Msp. He says he speaks for Scotland I can assure you he does not. Like the snp if your not for them or their policies you are against them and are not trully Scottish.

  3. I’m really not sure quite where the UK is headed. If I were morally conservative but without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ I think I’d be in utter despair. Pray for revival.

  4. I am appalled by this. Have contacted my MP and MSP (both SNP) to express my thoughts. I look forward to receiving their reply.
    Mr Nicholson’s comments demonstrate all the qualities that I dislike the most – ignorance and lack of respect.

  5. Never fails to amaze – actually it doesn’t, but anyway – that the main photo is always some bloke in women’s clothes and highly sexualised to boot.

    Misogyny a hate crime? Against females? Or anyone who felt hated because of their feelings? Just stop. Let the police do their job without all the PC twaddle, give them what they need to do said job, and drop the stupid and truly misogynist sex self-id nonsense.

    And dear SNP, please stop spreading your religious hate. Yours, an adult human female.

  6. This looks to have more in common with the march of an occupying force than an expression of freedom. Christians need to not be afraid to speak the truth of the gospel or more will be lost to this empty philosophy. Perhaps Mr Nicholson needs to actually speak with the people of the Western Isles before he such inappropriate pronouncements. Thanks for all your faithful work David.

  7. This is an interesting piece. And a tad hypocritical. You like to call secularists and humanists that you disagree with “militant”. A large number of humanists would say they were pacifists so equating them with soldiers and violence is bigoted – by your standard set out in this piece.

    If you think the good people of the western isles have always shown kindess then ask the shop keeper who was told to close her shop or the ask the children whose playpark was closed or ask the families who wanted to go for a swim in the local pool about that kindness. It is not a kind act to foist your beliefs on someone else. Banning kids from playing in a park is the very definition of dour.

    People with Downs are supported. Women pregnant with fetuses with genetic abnormalities are supported. You complain about abortions but say nothing of the Godly design that causes spontaneous abortions by fetuses – which then put the mother at risk. You favor the potential baby over the actual mother. Tells me a lot about your opinion of women.

    Where religions are accepted, so are their teachings to their believers. Who cares what Humsa Yousaf thinks about Catholic teachings? As long as he doesnt seek to change them, interfere with them etc. He can reject them. He can say that Scottish policy is not driven by them (which is a good thing really).

    Your EU comment is petty but that isnt surprising given your views.

    You think Scotland is hostile to Biblical Christians. It isnt really. You arent being rounded up. You arent the target of vans telling you to go home. You arent being told to live in a different country because you married a Christian. You mistake being treated equally as being treated with hostility.

    People are holding religions to account for their hypocrisy, abuse, controls, sexism, homophobia, etc. Deference is rightly gone. You treat yours however you want but society wants to treat people differently.

    The entire history of Christianities involvement in politics has been pure identity politics, the identity politics that current identity polices follows. Don’t trot that wee line out.

    Progress means different things to different people. I think women ministers is progress. Some people are very much stuck in the past about that.

    1. There are militant secularists.
      You don’t seem to understand what ‘kindness’ is…you seem to confuse it with letting people do whatever they want….your example of the swimming pool. Is it unkind that my local swimming pool is not open at 3am when I might want to go for a swim? Should I insist that in order to be kind to me you have to open everything just when I want it? You seem more than a little confused…

      Whats a ‘potential’ baby? Either there is a baby in the womb or there isn’t. You are talking about killing the baby in the womb and you say you want to support Downs Syndrome people but at the same time want to prevent them coming into being. Confused?

      You say you support Catholics but deny and work against the teachings that make them Catholic. Confused?

      You seem to think that hostility is just being put in vans or thrown out the country. You don’t seem to accept that hate mail, being excluded from jobs, or from fostering, or from the media, or from politics is not hostility. Confused?

      Progress does not mean different things to the Progressives in the SNP…nor you. You know exactly what it is…and you know how right you are and how in the name of tolerance you will not tolerate those who disagree with you….as I said – confused.

  8. Here’s a letter I wrote to Nicola Sturgeon about this:

    I am writing concerning an incident of religious bigotry by an SNP leader.

    On the Andrew Marr show on 7th October 2018 an SNP leader, John Nicholson, referred to certain Christians in the Hebrides as “the Tartan Taliban”. Obviously this will be deeply offensive to them, but not only to them. I am a Christian living in Loughborough, so you may think this is none of my business, but it is. As a Christian I find I am affected by people thinking my belief in the Bible makes me a “fundamentalist” and therefore somehow associated with Islamic fundamentalism and therefore somehow aligned with terrorists. For a political leader on national television to associate Christians who believe the Bible’s morality with the Taliban, legitimises and pushes further this stereotyping which Christians are increasingly facing. He may be a politician in Scotland, but his words affect those of us who are in England; just as I expect Boris Johnson’s words about burkas were likely to affect those in Scotland.

    Given that you publicly condemned Boris Johnson’s comments on burkas as “Islamophobic” and “dog whistle politics”, and given that the Scottish Government have displayed posters saying, “Dear Bigots, you can’t spread your religious hate here” will you now be publicly condemning John Nicholson’s comments? I am sure you recognise that if you don’t, Christians will get the clear message that all talk of inclusion and tolerance is hollow and merely political posturing in favour of certain groups who have the ear of the elites.

    [end of letter quote]

    I have some misgivings about having sent this, as I think we have to be wary of playing them at their own “victim card” game. We must fundamentally reject the victim-mentality and taking offence approach. But maybe this is a case where writing falls into the Acts 16:37 category.

    More importantly, for there to be a gay pride march in Stornoway at all shows where we’ve got to as a nation. Far more effective and necessary than any writing is: are we praying earnestly for God’s mercy?

    1. I’ve received a reply from Nicola Sturgeon’s office:

      “John Nicholson said on The Andrew Marr Show 07/10/18, “some refer to them as the tartan taliban” – he did not suggest he agreed with this. The SNP strongly believes that there is no place in Scotland for prejudice or discrimination – everyone deserves to be treated fairly regardless of age, disability, gender, gender identity, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or sexual orientation.”

      It is technically correct that he said “some refer to them” but it was also clear from what he went on to say that he agreed with the sentiment.

      I had underestimated how clever these politicians are at putting across the message they agree with whilst also covering their tracks.

  9. I want to pick you up on your claim that Christians are not killing gay people, because only last week there was an article about a gay minister who was being encouraged to kill himself rather than continue to live as a gay person.

    No doubt you would say that his tormentors were not truly Christian, but then there are Muslims who would say that Islamic terrorists are not true Muslims.

    Although I think deliberate attacks (verbal or physical) from Christians to gay people are infrequent. It is very clearly the case that non deliberate words and actions from some Christians do very much harm gay people. As examples, both Vicky Beeching and Jayne Ozanne were hospitalised as a result of this.

    Being gay in a world made for straight people is always going to be mentally very hard and it is made much harder if respected faith leaders claim being gay is sinful and push for criminality or removal of rights. You may very well not do this, but you need to understand that it is being done. Indeed the state was doing this itself until the very recent cultural changes. Cultural changes which you complain about.

    I understand that it may make you uncomfortable that gay people are expected to be accepted and may even see it as a diminishment of Christianity in the culture, but please understand that what is making you uncomfortable allows others to remain alive.

    1. Sorry you will need to provide some evidence….Christians are not killing gay people (although given that 2 billion people profess to be Christian I guess if you try hard enough you will find someone who has…

      Your examples of Vicky Beeching and Jayne are simplistic and not as clear as you suggest. Vicky was not hospitalised because of what was said and done to her by Christians. Have you read her book?

      What makes me uncomfortable is not what allows others to remain alive….your judgemental comment is sadly all too typical of those who say that if we don’t accept their philosophy we are killing people. Shameful…

      1. You have misunderstood my point. My point is that, in this country at least, Christians are not generally directly harming gay people, but that the issue is far more *complicated* than that.

        I gave you three examples and you just dismissed them.

        It is well known and there are several studies that link higher rates of gay suicide with hostility, including religious hostility, including one out this year by Lytle et al.

        You may have seen the case of Lizzie Lowe in the media. She was a *fourteen* year old girl who killed herself because she had absorbed this idea that she would be unacceptable to her parents and her church if they knew she was gay. Her parents are now campaigning to warn Christian parents not to have to go through the same thing.

        In most cases the Christians are not trying to cause harm, but do so nonetheless. In most cases it is not a guy with a knife, but a person being lead to believe they are unacceptable and their life is not worth living or a person receiving a huge amount of pressure to become straight without any means or support to accomplish that feat.

        To answer your question – yes, I have read Beechings book and heard her talk about the subject as well.

        Im sorry my final comment was not intended to be judgemental, but simply an explanation and summary. You are clearly uncomfortable by the level of acceptance that gay people now have in society and are working to reverse it, *but* this is a life and death situation for many gay people.

      2. You are making a simplistic argument. There are no doubt many factors in gay suicide – of which ‘religious’ hostility may be one. But so also the fact of being gay itself and the harm that gay sex and the gay lifestyle causes may also be significant.

        I know of no Christian who thinks that a gay person’s life is not worth living….if you are going to make a case – don’t exaggerate.

        I am not ‘uncomfortable’ about the level of acceptance that gay people have in society. Don’t misrepresent.

      3. So how many times do I have to say this is a complex issue and then you tell me that I am making too simplistic an argument?!

        The fourteen year old girl was not having gay sex, nor was Beeching, nor was Ozanne.

        My gay Chrifriend who writes a blog about celibacy has just shared some of the abuse he has been getting from Christians who don’t like gay people. He’s pretty tough, but if he believed that they knew what they were talking about then I am certain that it would harm his mental health and self esteem.

        You say that you know of no Christian who believes that gay peoples lives are not worth living, yet I can point you to the minister I mentioned and, indeed, Jayne Ozanne who have both been encouraged to kill themselves by Christians rather than live as gay people. This has also happened to another friend of mine.

        I’m pleased that you at least now do acknowledge that Christian hostility can cause harm and even death to gay people.

        I can tell you another story which also happened to a friend of mine. I had known him a few months and he was struggling so hard with the concept of coming out to his conservative Christian parents and, indeed accepting that he was gay, that he was blacking out. He blacked out while driving, his car hit a tree and he died in hospital a few days later. Now it’s a complex situation, but if his family weren’t from that culture then he would still be alive.

        I think maybe the problem for you is that you don’t see gay people as being harmed by Christian hostility (or indeed Muslim hostility, Hindu hostility etc) and so see any political or social attempts to soothe the situation as merely an attack on Christianity.

        I’m glad that you agree that gay people should be fully accepted in society. I have to say that your writings give the opposite impression.

      4. I don’t believe that anyone who urges anyone to kill themselves is a Christian. – and it is disingenuous for you to use such extreme and uncorroborated examples.

        And I can’t comment about your friend and why he blacked out – because I don’t know. And I suspect you don’t either. I find it a bit cheap that you use a friends death in this way – to make a cultural point.

        I do think that ‘gay’ people can be ‘harmed’ by those who don’t agree with gay doctrine….but it all depends what you mean by harm. And I note that you don’t deal at all with the point that gay doctrine may actually be the major cause of the harm.

        Your whole attempt is to try and emotionally bully people into accepting one particular social/sexual philosophy by simply accusing anyone who disagrees with it of hostility and doing harm. You then back it up with a series of extreme examples and say ‘look, this is your fault…if you don’t agree with me’! Its a quite dispicable way to argue…

      5. Sorry to write more, but another complex situation is that the US administration has just voted against a UN resolution condemning the death penalty for homosexuality.

        Now I doubt that you believe Donald Trump is not a Christian, but he – and others – have made very public their association and support by American evangelicals. I have no idea what their true motivation was here, but it certainly is not to protect the lives of gay people. Do his evangelical supporters care about the lives of gay people? I have no doubt many of them will be cheering this on without real thought to the consequences.

  10. To refer to any group of Scottish Christians as ‘Tartan Taliban’ is outrageous. What is, perhaps, even more outrageous is the lack of condemnation from the leadership of his own party and from any others within the ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ obsessed liberal establishment. As usual, we can ask the question whether there would have been a similar lack of reaction if there had been a similarly-insulting description of a group of Moslems.
    In his speech to the SNP Conference, Mr Humsa Yousaf said, “Whether it is anti-Catholicism, anti-Protestantism, anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia or any other hatred – it has no place in Scotland.” Well, it doesn’t seem that he was too bothered by Mr Nicolson’s anti-Protestantism. He also said, “Everyone who stands for a Scotland where bigotry and sectarianism have no place..”. However, it would seem that the SNP are rather reluctant to live up to their rhetoric.
    “A Scottish Government working group set up to define sectarianism has no representatives from the Catholic Church or the Irish Catholic community, and includes a member who once mocked clergy as ‘actors in fancy dress’ and who criticised the conviction of an anti-Catholic bigot. Statistics released last year show that Catholics make up the majority of victims of religiously aggravated crimes in Scotland. However the new group, which is tasked with legally defining sectarianism, has no representative from the Catholic Church, despite having two Church of Scotland ministers on its panel. The suitability of one member of the group has also been questioned after it emerged he criticised an anti-Catholic bigot’s conviction as being anti-freedom of expression, attacked senior figures in the Church in Scotland on social media, and wrote mocking articles about Christianity.”
    Scottish Catholic Observer, April 27, 2018.

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