The strident secular lobby, which has suddenly put itself about in Scotland, often fails to understand the historic need for a state-church balance. It makes sneering comparisons of Christian churches with ramblers’ groups and allotment societies, but ignores the reality that such hobby-based clubs do not have the million-person membership that the Protestant and Catholic churches hold in Scotland.
Church memberships may fall, yet hundreds of thousands of church adherents still constitute a huge part of our active population and are immensely important in community activities and, indeed, to a sense of community in our villages and towns.
Even now, church teachings, General Assembly decisions, rituals to do with marriage and the end of life, church charity and social work in the community all influence tens of thousands of Scottish citizens who voluntarily accept and welcome the churches’ active role in our society.
There are immense questions of personal liberty and belief which, as countless examples show, many purely secular states have roundly abused, not least in eastern and central Europe in the 20th century. All this points to why a church-state balance is necessary in this country, rather than to see the Christian churches driven out of the public square.
North Berwick, East Lothian