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Debate Night Reflections – Trump and Strathclyde Uni

On Sunday evening I had the privilege of taking part in BBC Scotland’s Debate Night.  Another one off the bucket list (actually it’s Questiontime I really want – but this was a start!)….It was an interesting experience – you can watch the whole show here or it is being repeated on BBC Scotland tonight at 11pm.

Screenshot 2019-06-04 at 10.14.37I was impressed with the professionalism of the BBC staff who make the show, especially the host, Stephen Jardine.  The audience was small, but again I was impressed with their quality.   And I enjoyed meeting with the other panelists –  Kirsty Blackman (SNP MP); Stephen Kerr (Conservative MP); Alex Rowley (Labour MP) and Dame Anne Glover (scientist from the University of Strathclyde).   It is a recorded show – but it is recorded as live – so there is no opportunity to go back over things.  It’s also interesting that we did not know the questions beforehand – not even a hint.

In the ten minute warm up Stephen asked me when I had last read the bible!  I think it was a kind of ‘gotcha ‘ question which maybe backfired a wee bit!  Because the answer was ‘about an hour ago – I was reading it on the train, preparing for coming here!”.  I got the impression that there were some people who were surprised that a minister actually read the Bible!


As I was coming home on the train I did have a feeling of disappointment – and even frustration – and not just because yet again the train was late!  The disappointment was not with the BBC or any of the other panellists – but rather with myself.   Neither was it just because I thought of all the things I could have said – but didn’t…or even a wee bit of concern about a couple of things I did say!   No the thing that bothered me was ‘did I let Christ down?”.   The trouble is that I was not on there to preach or shout bible verses – but to discuss political issues – and as I indicated – there is not one particular Christian position on Brexit, or Donald Trump or the NHS – the only three questions discussed.

But there is still a witness aspect.   One has to be careful with this – some people think the witness is if people like you, think you’re nice or clever, then you have been a good witness.  But that’s’ not the case.  If that is all there is, you have just been a witness to yourself – and our aim is to point people to Christ.    This is however connected with how we conduct ourselves, the language we use, and the arguments put forward.   I don’t expect everyone (anyone?) to agree with me on everything – but I want people to see that it is possible to be a Christian and think through these things.   My main aim is to get to the philosophical foundations that underlie many of the questions and answers.   For me, this is largely ploughing, with a bit of sowing.   My initial reaction was that I had failed.  On reflection, my more considered view is that whilst it wasn’t as bad as I had feared,  I could have done a lot better.  I did not realise the time, and I was tired emotionally and physically.   But I will learn from the experience – and hope to be able to engage in this way on other occasions, in Australia (Q and A are you listening?!) and the UK.

Here are the two bits that the BBC tweeted:


The Visit of President Trump

Little did I realise that when I mentioned Strathclyde University accepting money from the Chinese government, I was hitting the nail on the head!  Dame Anne Glover rightly spoke about the importance of values – and was happy to say that she would protest against President Trump because of her values – even if it was economically disadvantageous to her University.  But when asked about the Chinese, she was silent.  When I got home I received a message from a parent of a student who attends the University of Strathclyde’s Confucius Institute    informing me that the University received a considerable amount of Chinese money and had welcomed The Chinese ambassador.    So Dame Glover would refuse money from Donald Trump because of his misogynistic views and anti-Muslim views,  but welcomes with open arms a government that forces women to have abortions and imprisons Muslims!  Although I didn’t know it at the time – it is a classic example of the double standards of the progressives – whose ‘values’ seem to ebb and flow according to what they are dealing with.   My problem is not with Strathclyde receiving money – in the world of real politik that may be the best thing to do (thats another debate) – its the double standards I don’t like.  Real politik for some – purity for others!  (By the way I think that we should welcome both Trump and Xi Xinping – as they are major leaders and we should seek to influence them and do what we can to mitigate the policies we don’t agree with).

I realise as well that some (but not most) of my American friends on here will object to the fact that I stated that President Trump was rude and boorish and that he was not a Christian.  The answer to that is straightforward – it’s the truth.  I respect the office of the President and think that as President he should be welcomed and honoured here.   And I think that God can use him (as he could use Clinton, Obama or Bush).  But I will not allow the Gospel and the future of the Church to be tied to a man who shows no understanding of the Gospel and no fruit of the Spirit.  Trump may be your President – but he is not my brother in Christ, nor my Saviour.   And I object strongly to President Trump being viewed as an ambassador for Christ.  He isn’t.


Speaking of objections – there were those who objected, in the name of tolerance and diversity,  strongly to my even being on the programme.   Here are a few samples of the messages I received.

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There were others with even more offensive language – than I won’t post on here…but what was interesting was that on their own Twitter feed, Debate Night has a wee section which says you can see more posts – but warns they are hidden because they may be offensive.  The ones above (and worse) were fine but this one below – apparently had to be hidden!

Screenshot 2019-06-04 at 07.33.38

There were also lots of people who got in touch who were positive and I am thankful for that – and especially for those who prayed.  May the Lord grant many more such opportunities and may I use them better!

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The BBC and Christianity


  1. Every day David, i ask myself that same wuestion after conversing with folks. . “Did i let Christ down? – by either something i said or by something i didn’t say that i could have said.😞
    We are all only human. Well done you for getting an opportunity to debate on the BBC.
    Every Blessing.

  2. As a US citizen and a Christian I can tell you that President Trump has been the best president we’ve had in this country in the last twenty years. He has promoted religious freedom, the prolife cause, economic policies that help this country. It’s sad to see how outsiders such as yourself have no idea how great this president is and how everyone has drank the lies the left media in the US feeds all other leftist media in the world! Trump is not a politician, he speaks the truth about and the media hates it. He’s protecting America from complete destruction which will happen next when the left takes over for a long time to come…Shame on UK for buying the sound bites and vicious attacks on my president…

    1. Cristine – thanks for your comment but please don’t believe everything you read in the media or on the internet. There are many of us (including many American evangelicals) who do not like President Trump and even less like him being treated as though he were some kind of Christian leader; who do so, not because of what we read in the left media – but because of what he says and does. Its also not black and white – yes he does some good things and God may use him but that still does not make him a Christian. As for him being your president – indeed he is – but then so was Obama and Clinton!

      This article may help you understand where I am coming from –

      1. David, I never said he was a Christian. However no president has ever been attacked so unfairly and mischaracterized as this one. It’s disheartening to see Christians attacking him too.

  3. Sadly, David it is my view that you came across as the least gracious, least even tempered, most opinionated and most arrogant of the panelists. My wife turned to me at one point and said ‘he’s not a Christian!’. The fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5 were not particularly evident on this occasion, but I sympathise with the pressure of the occasion and the fact that, as you say, you were tired. I could not have done better. There will no doubt be many who disagree with my view of your performance and in whom you can take solace.

    For my part, I thought that the scientist Dame Anne Glover was the most gracious, calm, humble and reasoned of all the panellists, despite the rather rough treatment you gave her. She may or may not be a Christian, but she certainly displayed Christian values (of which we as Christians do not have a monopoly).

    1. Sjon,

      Your message is profoundly discouraging. Anyone reading it will see that you accuse me of being ungracious, arrogant and lacking the fruit of the Spirit, so much so that your wife was able to pronounce that I am not a Christian! I hope that that is not true, but people should watch it and judge for themselves. I wonder if your comments would have been different if you agreed with what I said – I often find that when people don’t like the message they tend to shoot the messenger.

      I will however say this. These are by far the most vicious posts I get. They come cloaked in the language of Christianity but they are bitter, judgemental and designed to wound in public. It’s the kind of ‘Christian love’ I have come to expect!

      You seem to be judging everything by your feelings (or those of your wife). Your wife determined that I was not a Christian – and you determined that Dame Anne Glover showed more ‘Christian values’. Yet you will note in your post that there isn’t a single objective fact – everything is based entirely on your feeling and perception. As you well know it is impossible to answer such an accusation. When someone accuses you of being arrogant, ungracious etc you are damned if you do (yes I admit it) and damned if you don’t….(not admitting just proves the point!). So the one who judges is always able to walk away feeling justified and satisfied with themselves.

      You even have your own self-defence mechanism built into your comment when you state that I can take solace in those who don’t agree with you. But I don’t take solace in those who agree with me, just as, depressing as it is, I don’t allow your kind of passive-aggressive nastiness, to discourage me too much! I answer to Christ – not to people who sit on the sidelines judging.

      Ask yourself – why did you post such a comment? Did that evidence the fruit of the Spirit? Was it posted in love? Or were you just having a go, because you didn’t like what was said? Or you don’t like me?! The latter would be fair enough – sometimes I don’t like myself – but its not really a reason for posting in this way, is it?

      1. You came across well, David. The ‘gracious’ lady from the University was brought face to face with the issue of Chinese money and the bandwagon Trump/bad narrative. Christ turned over tables, and so did you. Re DT: I have noticed a softening, a learning curve. Maybe people like Mike Pence and the nature of the Office are being used to change this Jehu?

  4. The offensive tweets could be “perceived” as hate crimes by the Christian community and no doubt we will see Police Scotland take appropriate action?

    However, we won’t hold our breath!

    God bless.

    1. I don’t expect many people who read this excellent blog will be very familiar with the reasons why Catholics have concerns about the civil authorities giving permission for Orange marches to be routed past Catholic churches. But this was the response of Police Scotland when Catholics objected to the Orange Order being given permission to march past a Catholic church where there had been reprehensible behaviour shown towards the parish priest and the congregation on a previous occasion:
      “Police Scotland has no information which would suggest the parade provides for a risk to safety, disorder, damage to property or disruption to the life of the community.”

  5. David, as usual, the French have an expression for all the wise and witty things you could and should have said at the time:
    “pensees d’escalier”. Clever eh?
    We’ve just had a look and we thought you were fine. All the best

  6. Don’t worry David,

    The OT prophets frequently got it in the neck for what they said – some of which was very rude indeed. John the Baptist was also rather outspoken (“You bunch of snakes….”) and lost his head for it.

    I have not had a chance to watch, but knowing you I am sure you spoke the truth (as you saw it) firmly and clearly. If you had not upset some I would have been more concerned.

  7. David, as a long time reader of your blog but having never posted a comment before, I want to let you know that I thought you came across well. You challenged the party lines from the politicians and the politically correct views that you hear predictably from so many public speakers who dare not challenge the accepted wisdom.
    I know that the positive comments don’t stick like the barbed ones and your own opinion will be hard on yourself, but please be encouraged. Your witness and example are hugely encouraging to me and many others.
    May God bless you richly in your new challenge in Australia.

    1. I waited until I had watched the whole debate before making comment. Like Tim Horne , I agree , you came across very well . However , I am sure you well know by now that such is the spiritual state of our nation you will be targeted and named with every bigoted miscall that our “enlightened” generation can muster.
      While in Aussie land remember us and pray for us , take a very deep breath and some little rest ( ok , I am aware that rest is not part of the call) then come back ! It won’t be a return home , because our true home is not in this world and despite your odd ( I ‘ll never understand it ) obsession for cricket you will be back among yer ain folk .

  8. David, thank you for continuing to put your head above the parapet. I pray that I, too, can do that in some small way.
    I can only guess that the abhorrent responses are auto-generated – and for those that are not I pray for the people writing them, that they will stop, or have the courage to step out and make their points of view with grace, reason and evidence. With best wishes.. A

  9. David, it could have been a lot worse, at least you weren’t chased by youths shouting “Get out of here baldy heid!” Although if it been Aberdeen you probably would have!

    I hope we can still look forward to your blogs once you are settled in Oz? All the best to you and your family in the land of sunshine and barbies

    Haste ye back..

  10. David, I thought you were brilliant, I to am a Brexiteer and I used to support the SNP until I really started to listen to A Salmond and other SNP politicians and I thought to myself ‘ this lot are not for me’ I think I made the right choice. As for D Trump, he is not a politician he is a business man and he speaks and acts like a business man that is why politicians dislike him but the American people do. I to would have liked to see you on Question Time but the BBC are so anti Brexit your chances were pretty much zero. All the best to you and your family.

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