Once again, Rev Robertson is misrepresenting the Scottish Secular Society over what was said about Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, (Letters, 23 December).
What Rev Robertson did was quote-mine from longer sub-headings from four different news stories on Facebook threads about Murphy on Secular Scotland.
Robertson regularly critiques on posts he sees here. And as someone who has contributed with such openers as: “Good morning atheists” and using language like “aggressive atheists” and “militant secularists”, he ought to know how Secular Scotland on Facebook works, even if he doesn’t understand the spiritual diversity of its members.
Mr Murphy’s religion is indeed a legitimate subject for discussion since he supports segregating children on the basis of their parents’ religion into separate schools, unelected Catholic affiliates on every one of Scotland’s education committees, and – having overseen the visit of Pope Benedict to Scotland – witnessed vital overseas aid funds raided by the government to pay for it.
All these are opposed by the Scottish Secular Society (SSS).
SSS does not challenge Jim Murphy’s Catholicism; we challenge faith – any faith – when it becomes the basis of political privilege or distorts, as in this case, both education and the oversees aid programme in the process.
If Rev Robertson truly believed any comments were sectarian he should have contacted the page administrators or police, not borne false witness and capitalise on them with a press release.
Scottish Secular Society
Rev David Robertson, Moderator-elect of the Free Church of Scotland, does not, in his generalised attack on secularism in Scotland, offer as refined an argument as should be expected from someone with his responsibilities.
He should not judge the views of Scottish secularists from the Babel of views expressed on the open public Facebook pages of an organisation that calls itself the Scottish Secular Society.
That society does associate secularism with Scottish independence because such a step would lead to the abolition of the current role of the House of Lords, with 26 Church of England bishops as voting members, in the determination of legislation and in influencing UK Government policy affecting Scotland.
Contrary to Rev Robertson’s assertions, there is in fact a wide variety of views on moral and political issues to be found among secularists who, while having a diversity of opinion, are united by a desire to achieve the separation of church and state and to remove religious privileges such as the right of the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church to nominate members of Scottish local education committees.
Some secularists also object to the new same-sex marriage laws – not because of the principle but because they allow religious denominations which register marriage on behalf of the state not to perform some types of marriage ceremonies.
This allows religious discrimination and represents unjust religious privilege.
The secular French arrangements whereby every new wedded couple is required to have a civil ceremony and then can celebrate the new match as they wish has much to commend it.
The vehement and unbalanced reaction of some church leaders to secularism reflects the declining influence and loosening grip of religion in contemporary Scotland where half the population, particularly the young, have no religious affiliation.
Many of these people find religious privilege objectionable and will continue to ensure that their voice is heard as a counterweight to that of the religious enthusiasts.
(Prof) Norman Bonney
Edinburgh Secular Society