Politics Scotland the Church

What does the election of Scotland’s new Muslim First Minister mean for the Church in Scotland? CT

This weeks Christian Today article…you can get the original here…

What does the election of Scotland’s new Muslim First Minister mean for the Church in Scotland?


Humza Yousaf is Scotland’s new First Minister.(Photo: STV News)

Humza Yousaf will be the new first minister of Scotland. The 37-year-old Muslim was narrowly elected leader of the SNP and will be confirmed as first minister by the Scottish Parliament. Much will be made of him being the first Muslim leader of a government in the UK. But what does his election mean for Scotland – and for the church in Scotland? Are there lessons for the wider Church to learn?

In terms of politics, the election was surprisingly close. The SNP establishment, 80 per cent of the payroll politicians, most of those on what Scottish journalist Kevin McKenna calls ‘the gravy train’, were all behind Yousaf. His main rival, Kate Forbes, was outed as an evangelical Christian early in the campaign, the press smelled blood, and the Twitterati went for her. But she stuck to her guns, and if the campaign had gone on longer (it was shortened by the party machine) would probably have won. As it is she got 47.9 per cent of the final vote, with Yousaf getting 52.1 per cent.

What have we learned about Scotland?

1. The SNP is much weaker than previously thought. Going into the election it was presumed that it had a membership of between 100,000 to 125,000. As it turns out, the membership is only 72,000, of whom only 50,000 voted.

2. Independence is unlikely within the next decade. Forbes was widely recognised as the most competent candidate who would appeal to the voters that the SNP needs to win over. But the SNP voted for the least popular candidate with the public and the most incompetent. Although there will be lots of talk, the reality is that Westminster will refuse a new referendum and the SNP/Green alliance will not be able to get enough support to pressure the UK government. I suspect they know that. For them being ‘progressive’ is more important than achieving independence.

3. Scotland faces an economically, politically and socially testing time. Yousaf is generally regarded as having failed in his three ministries so far (transport, justice and health) – something Forbes devastatingly pointed out during the campaign.

4. Yousaf will do well to survive. It may seem counter intuitive, but this result was really a humiliation for him. With all the apparatus of the SNP and Scottish government behind him, he still just scraped over the line. Only one third of the SNP membership actually voted for him. The exodus from the party is likely to continue.

Yousaf is famous for his gaffes, for example tweeting his disgust over a video showing Rangers players using sectarian language (it was fake); or claiming that concerns about the state of Scotland’s police buildings were ‘hyperbole’ just hours before the ceiling of the Broughty Ferry police station collapsed. Within weeks of becoming health secretary, he was forced to apologise for wrongly claiming that 10 children had been hospitalised because of Covid. Yousaf and his wife, an SNP councillor, recently dropped a £30,000 legal claim against a nursery owned by two Asian immigrants they had accused of discrimination. During the campaign he asked a group of Ukrainian refugee women “where are all the men?” He can read from the script; he can’t write it.

But what about the Church?

Why should we be concerned? Not because Yousaf is a Muslim. Islam is his cultural religion; he ignores it when it goes against his real religion – progressivism. No, we should be concerned because of his authoritarian tendencies, fuelled by his ideology and his sense of ‘the right to rule’ that comes from his privileged upbringing.

When he was justice minister, he introduced one of the most authoritarian, Orwellian pieces of legislation ever passed by a Western democracy – his hate crime bill, which was, and is, a real threat to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. It even criminalises people for private conversations they have in their own home. Little wonder that the former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars described it as being “one of the most pernicious and dangerous pieces of legislation ever produced by any government in modern times in any part of the United Kingdom”.

We should be concerned about the impact of Yousaf’s policies on the poor (a failing economy and weakened health service always impact the poor the worst); women (his gender recognition bill is deeply unpopular in Scotland and will have a real adverse effect on women and children – not least putting men in women’s prisons; and children (the decline of the Scottish education system in a land once known for its literacy has been horrific – as has the decline of the family).

In addition to this, Yousaf has said he is in favour of decriminalising all abortions – in effect allowing abortion on demand up to nine months for any reason – including sex selective abortions. The evil of this is almost incomprehensible.

But what will the Church do? Will it be a prophetic voice crying out in the progressive wilderness? Will we speak up for the voiceless and the powerless? The trouble is, that much of the Church is either dispirited or too embedded in the institutions that have been taken over by the collective psychosis that is now such a part of so many Western societies.

The challenge for the Church is how to live in this world, to be in it and yet not of it.

We have to face up to the fact that Kate Forbes was not elected because she is a Bible-believing Christian. She was by far the most competent, attractive and viable leader and she almost made it. But it was her Christianity that she was demonised for. The ABC in Australia even reported that she stood on “a platform of hard-line Christian values”! It’s fascinating that we live in a country where we can have a Hindu prime minister, a Buddhist home secretary, a Muslim mayor of London and a Muslim first minister of Scotland and that is celebrated. But if any of these were evangelical Christians, I suspect there would be dire warnings of Far Right theocracies coming round the corner, such is the hatred of biblical Christianity by those who consider that they are the enlightened but still oppressed, progressives.

But some may argue ‘look at how close Forbes got!’ Indeed. It could be that others will now see that their Christian faith is no barrier to political office. But I suspect that the main political parties (including the so-called ‘conservative’ ones) will ensure that no one like her gets near power again. This was too close a call for the progressive establishment. Yousaf during his campaign, in a thinly veiled threat, suggested that the SNP needed to vet candidates more closely so that those with ‘unacceptable’ views could not get elected.

We are moving into a situation in many Western democracies where a small ruling elite will effectively veto anyone who does not share their ‘values’ from getting political, corporate, academic or media power. We are moving away from a liberal democracy based on Christian values to a soft authoritarianism based on the ruling elite’s progressive ideology.

So, what should the Church now do?


We can and should weep for our nation.

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41-42).

I weep for my beloved Scotland as it continues to head downhill.


Ezekiel 33 is a solemn and sobering chapter, but surely it is one that applies to us?

“But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood (Ezekiel 33:6-7).”

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so, hear the word I speak and give them warning from me (Ezekiel 3:17).”

I’ve noticed this rather alarming tendency for churches to warn about what is going to happen after it has already happened. We need to lovingly and graciously point out what the consequences will be of rejecting Christ and God’s law.


I don’t mean win elections. Kate Forbes was not standing as the Christian candidate and, unlike the progressives, we should not expect to impose Christianity by law. We need to win people for Christ. As the proverb puts it: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).

While the Church is, and should be, rightly concerned about the state of the nation – economically, socially, morally – that is not our primary concern. Our primary concern and purpose is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, and to live it in such a way that many will be drawn to him. We are to be salt and light. We are to pray so that there would be peace and we would have the freedom to proclaim the Gospel. And we are to do so knowing that whatever happens, Jesus wins!

David Robertson leads The ASK Project in Sydney, Australia. He blogs at The Wee Flea.

Scotland’s Hate Crime Bill is a charter for the suppression of free speech

Why has conversion therapy become a major election issue in Scotland? – CT

Pray for Scotland 8 – A Christian Nation?


  1. I couldn’t agree more it is a very sad day for Scotland, much prayer needed, that we keep our hope in the Lord. Are we down hearted yes, are we giving up NO.

  2. Another disappointing thing about Kate Forbes not winning is that the SNP will continue to be in a coalition with the Greens who are utterly zealous in their wish to destroy the economy and all prosperity in the name of “saving the planet” (I do wonder what planet they are living on?). If Forbes had won, then they would have refused to work with her due to her “intolerant and bigoted views”.

    “O, wad some Power the giftie gie us. To see oursels as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, An’ foolish notion.”

    How true!

  3. I have started saying As Private Frazer said in Dads Army, “We are doomed, doomed.

    I agree with David. Miss Forbes came close, but I wonder is people understand that our new first minister, is muslim in name only, he is really sectariain. If he succeeds in getting his way and youngsters can self Identify, it will cause more mental health issues.

    It will cause more abortion on demand and woe betide a baby girl in some Muslim families who want a son.

    It will also be interesting to see how the rest of the UK react. Will they want to go down the same path?
    I suspect that Muslims see things like this as conquering the west, where Christian values were once respected.

    I hope that at some point this stirs up the real church and the gospel is once again proclaimed throughout the land.

  4. Kate Forbes appears to have turned down ‘Minister for Rural Affairs’ which by all accounts was a demotion. She appears to have decided to step away from politics. On the face of it this is a wise decision. I cannot see how she can have a future in the SNP. I cannot see how the SNP has a future as its woke establishment continue to recklessly pursue their madcap agenda. Humza’ s policy on abortion is chilling.

    As you say David, he is a Muslim in name only. Yet he is a Muslim. I cannot see how he reconciles even a nominal Muslim stand with his apparent views. Yet of course, even ‘Christians’ manage this contradiction – Ian Blackford for one. Why is he not excommunicated?

  5. David, I have never felt more despondent about the state of Scottish politics witnessing the events of the last 24 hours.
    My problem with Humza Youssaf is not because he is Muslim, Anas Sarwar has been quite impressive as leader of the Scottish Labour Party with a lightness of touch, it is because he is not very good. Clearly the most talented candidate among the SNP in the Scottish Parliament is Kate Forbes. To offer her the post of Rural Affairs Minister was a deliberate insult, an offer he knew she could not accept. And then we have Shona Robison becoming deputy leader.
    Is it an accident that most of the talented SNP politicians are in Westminster? Nicola Sturgeon made sure that any threats to her were off limits . Think Joanna Cherry!

  6. It’s a compliment that the evangelical Church is so hated. Roman Catholicism and evangelicalism are a magnet for hatred, which is simply not fired at other groups: very telling! Running away from real numbers is the progressive’s angle. An accountant First Minister would have been interesting. The venom towards the Free Church is thoroughly unjustified. Just look at ‘soulinformation.org’ and Lee Furney for an appreciation of Anglican horror stories. The Free Church, in my estimation, has never been afraid to put its dirty laundry on the washing line. the Church of England has a much darker history of liberal and evangelical scandal cover ups.

  7. Excellent article. The call to weep. I have thought often of that same call Dr Clifford Hill brought back in January 2019 at the National Day of Prayer at Wembley. He faced a lot of criticism for joining with others who were more focused on revival than the necessary repentance. He didn’t go back and wrote an article about it his conviction that revival would not come until there is repentance in the church. The refreshing and renewal we seek is inextricably linked to the weeping tears of repentance for our apostasy the Word of God and the God of the Word. The depth to which we will experience revival in this nation is connected to the depth of repentance of God’s people.

    But I am reminded of a prophetic word released by Chris Wickland, also in 2019, Blessings Follows Woes And War On Great Britain.


    3 woes followed by 3 blessings. The 3rd woe was of militant Islam taking hold in this nation and a short time of persecution coming. I watched this lying in wait in a dream, hidden behind the Church, as I was watching what was happening politically in America. Like America, our nation was being driven over a cliff into the sea and those who fell, dashed their heads on the rocks on their way down, a reference to the little ones whose heads were dashed upon the rocks in several references in the Old Testament… a reversal of the promise in Psalm 91.

    The promised blessings following the woes are of renewal and revival and crucially the fact we will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel. Given the corruption and perversion of our national politics and the Church in this nation I say, let the Jehus and Cyruses arise as Your people have the Baals removed from their mouths to proclaim to true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let Your Word go forth in power again in this nation.

    1. I don’t doubt Chris Wickland’s sincerity, but to be honest I don’t think we need “prophetic visions and dreams” to reach these conclusions. Any thoughtful, prayerful Christian who reads the bible and the signs of the times will have concluded broadly similar things. Indeed many of David’s articles over the years have said broadly the same things, and specifically that it is our primary duty to proclaim truth and the gospel to the nations.

      I don’t mean to be unduly negative but good biblical preaching and teaching is what the church really needs.

      1. Appreciate your reply. Completely agree. We don’t need “prophetic dreams and visions to reach these conclusions.” We have a more sure word of prophecy and yet the Lord has promised to pour out dreams and visions on those who He pours His spirit out on. Thank You Lord! 🙌🏻
        If the Lord feels it necessary to release prophetic dreams and visions as He pours out His spirit on all flesh, I’m going to assume He has very good reason for doing so. Perhaps it is because of the absence of “good biblical preaching and teaching,” the famine of the Word prophesied by Amos, that the Lord chooses to reveal Himself in this way. Or perhaps it’s just a way of Him showing Himself to individuals personally. Or perhaps it’s both of these things and much more. Either way, God is God, I am not and I will not despise His revelation however it comes, as I continue to study to show myself approved, but will do as the Scripture says and test all things.

  8. It’s probably for the best for Kate Forbes, to be honest. I can’t imagine the difficulty of holding on to one’s Christian faith with integrity in the hellhole of corruption and lies that is the SNP hierarchy.

  9. Maybe it wasn’t her Christian beliefs, but her neo-liberal economic conservatism (Tartan Toryism) that lost her the election?

    1. Not at all. The charge of Tartan Toryism is a silly one. She was attacked and abused for her Christianity – and because she would have cleaned up the corrupt SNP gravy train. The campaign against her by the SNP establishment (and other ‘progressives’) was quite astounding….they were (rightly) very worried.

  10. Excellent article David. I agree that the response of the Church should be to ‘weep, warn and win’ as you so wisely advise. In terms of the politics, I find myself torn over this outcome. I am partly sad that Kate Forbes, an evangelical Christian with socially conservative views didn’t win high office but the other part of me is relieved that the SNP will now be led by ‘useless Yousaf’ into terminal decline, which might protect the Union I love from further fragmentation and weakness, at least for a while.

    As someone of Scottish parentage but born and raised in England, I value the Union of our ancient Kingdoms that has been forged through adversity, has advanced the cause of freedom and democracy across the world and has fought shoulder to shoulder through two world wars and subsequent conflicts as His Majesty’s Armed Forces. I loathe the pathetic, small-minded nationalism of the SNP and I just cannot understand how a principled, intelligent, financially literate individual such as Kate Forbes should have thrown her lot in with a party of left-wing ideologues intent on destroying the Union and creating a socialist, separatist state, hanging on to the coat-tails of an increasingly corrupt and crumbling European Union. Are we really desiring Scotland to re-kindle its ancient ties with France in preference to its English, Welsh and Irish neighbours?

    Scotland was once the envy of the world for its excellence in education, medicine, law and innovation. It was characterised and known for Christian moral values and virtues, as well as its fighting spirit and courage in the face of adversity. Now look at ‘progressive’ Scotland under the SNP… failing public services, declining educational standards, rising poverty and the breakdown of family and social structures with the highest drug-related death rate in Europe. Financially, it is a mess, with a rising tax burden, a growing financial deficit (15.7% of GDP compared with the UK of 6.1%) and socialist and ‘green’ policies of ‘tax and spend’ that will stifle growth and make the poor poorer. Sadly, under ‘useless Yousaf’ this is only going to get worse and I hope Kate Forbes has the sense to join another Unionist political party, where her talents can be used to promote social (and moral) reform, wise economic policies that support entrepreneurial spirit, enterprise and hard work for the benefit of all, as well as a low tax, innovative, self-sustaining economy that cares for the poor and vulnerable but rewards those who strive for excellence. Perhaps Kate Forbes might, in the future, find herself more at ease with Compassionate Conservativism and put aside her emotional, nationalistic baggage. Perhaps she’ll be less ‘flower of Scotland’ and become more of a British Bulldog.

    1. An excellent post .

      Of course , within the strict limits of today’s Scottish Nationalism , someone born in England , of Scots parentage , has no political ” locus standii” , while Subcontinental residents , of very short duration , now constitute the artfully worded ” people of Scotland”.

      The SNP may choose not to remember that one of the party’s founders , Sir Compton Mackenzie , was born in county Durham.

      All of the suggestions , valid as they doubtless are , would come to nothing without a radical top down societal change , viz. , in the attitude of both a neo – Marxist, Scotland – hating regime and a morally – debased proletariat.

  11. The SNP had a choice between a new direction with a competent leader or remaining in government. Its unlikely their deal with the greens could have stuck without the commitment to end conversion therapy

    I think the two big differences between Sunak, Khan etc and Kate Forbes is

    1. They are not seeking to impose their religious beliefs on others through policy, whereas KF created uncertainty on that score with her comments on sex, marriage and conversion therapy

    2. They come from minority religions. Their election signifies religious tolerance because they were elected by a country that still has majority Christian heritage. KFs comments did not signify tolerance for others religious beliefs.

    1. Then they would have governed as a minority government – which they had done before.

      1. You don’t actually know that. They could be lying. And Forbes specifically said she would not change the laws.

      2. Kate Forbes comes from a minority religion. You can hardly get more minority than the Free Church. Kate Forbes comments did signify tolerance for others religious beliefs – that was her point. In a pluralistic society we should be able to have different beliefs! why again do you feel this compulsion to make things up?

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