Gus Logan (Letters, 27 June) is right: “secular activism too often spills over into” “an active dislike of religious belief”. But the converse is the stronger effect: antipathy towards religion motivates secular activism.
For example, the Secular Scotland Facebook page gathers negative reports of religions from around the world, below which posters express their keen hostility, often in strident and aggressive tone. This diet serves the purpose of generating anti-religious passion, that is then channelled into the relatively trivial secularist campaigns that can be launched in Scotland.
David Robertson (Letters, 27 June) misleadingly presents secular societies as tiny bodies “demanding that all of public life be lived according to their philosophy”.
Secularism is not a philosophy but a principle of social organisation, which opposes neither religion itself, nor the public practice of religion, but the intrusion into people’s lives of religions they do not follow; and the secular principle is supported in Scotland not only by small but feisty bodies such as ourselves, but by the majority of the Scottish people.
This explains why Scotland today is largely a secular country, which in turn could explain why its secular societies are small: most of its people suffer little, if at all, from the direct and obvious intrusion of religion and so might see no reason to get active on the issue.
Secular Scotland and like-minded groups are active for three reasons.
Firstly, Scotland is not quite the completely secular state it might appear at a first glance, since its law grants churches unelected seats on every education board in the country; state school pupils are enrolled in Christian worship by default, even if they have no religious beliefs; and the state uses taxpayers’ money to fund the promotion of particular religious traditions through faith schools.
Secondly, even a completely secular state would not guarantee freedom from religious intrusion, which we have seen attempted in the efforts of churches to prevent same-sex couples from enjoying the same civil marriage rights as heterosexuals; and while we do not question their democratic right to speak out on this or any other issue, we insist on exercising our own democratic right to oppose them, confident that we have the majority support.
Thirdly, Secular Scotland is concerned not only with Scottish affairs but with religiously inspired intrusions, oppressions and atrocities in other parts of Britain and the world, including the persecution of religious groups by others, which tends to occur in the least secular countries.
Anyone who wants to know more about Secular Scotland or to join our daily growing membership can look us up on Facebook and judge for themselves.
In the current debate in your letters page about the numbers of people actively supporting secular groups, Christian correspondents should consider two points. Firstly, active membership of organised secular groups may be modest, but they represent a far greater number of people in the general population.
Secondly, basing policy on numbers alone runs the risk of the “tyranny of the majority”. Not very long ago a majority would have opposed even legalising homosexuality, let alone allowing gay marriage.
Policy should be based on evidence, not just popular support.
(Dr) Stephen Moreton