David Robertson (Letters, 7 June) maintains that “Scotland’s history, heritage and values are founded largely upon Christianity and that, overall, this has been to our benefit”. I fear Mr Robertson is blinkering himself to historical facts.
While it is true that many aspects of these things were Christian, they were rarely to anyone’s benefit, but rather led to centuries of oppression. And some aspects of our culture were not Christian at all. Scots law, for instance, is based on pre-Christian Roman law. And many Scots customs not only pre-date Christianity, but also have pagan roots.
Mr Robertson continues that one would “struggle to find one single example of a nation influenced by Christianity turning into a theocracy”. In fact, one need look no further than Scots history. The strict Romanism brought in by Saint Margaret in the 11th century ended “loose Christianity” and many pagan practices. It effectively made Scotland a theocracy ruled by bishops, which was known as “the Pope’s special daughter”.
In the Reformation, Marie de Guise (mother of Mary, Queen of Scots) boasted: “My God is greater than John Knox’s.” At the end of the Reformation, however, Roman Catholicism was outlawed, as was any other faith outwith that of the state presbyterian religion. So it was Scotland turned from a Catholic theocracy to a Protestant one – and the ordinary people of Scotland suffered under both.
Scotland was a theocracy for more than 1,000 years, which left nothing but bloodshed and heartache in it’s wake. We have, thankfully, moved away from that and life for the average Scot is much better for it. Yet it will not be complete until we have a more secular Scotland where freedom of (and from) religion, thought and conscience are enshrined in law.
Leslie John Thomson