Wee Frees call on Salmond to set up religious schools

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THE "Wee Frees" have called for their own schools – espousing strict biblical principles – to be set up in Scotland.

The Free Church of Scotland has urged Alex Salmond to create faith schools based on hardline Presbyterian principles.

They have also called for abortion to be made illegal.

The editor of the Church's official magazine, Rev David Robertson, has written to the First Minister as part of his National Conversation on Scotland's constitutional future and published the letter in the latest edition of the Church's Monthly Record.

He wrote: "You want us to have a National Conversation about the future government of Scotland. Good and well. Can we join in?"

The Dundee-based minister then outlined the Scotland the deeply conservative and Calvinist church wants to see.

"We would like to see a free country where people are really free," he wrote.

"We would like religious freedom – to be able to believe what the Bible says without fear of persecution or discrimination.

"Can we have our schools back? In 1872 the Free Church, together with the other Presbyterian churches, gave up their schools to be run by the state.

"This was done of the condition that they continued to be Christian schools run on a Christian ethos.

"As Scottish education has moved away from its Christian roots so it has drifted into a dumbed-down social education which increasingly achieves less and less.

"The result of this is that the rich can send their children off to 'good schools' while the poor are left with sink schools and little prospect of advancement."

He also used emotive and highly controversial language to call for the laws on abortion to be changed.

"We need a Scotland that cares for the weak and powerless, especially the unborn child who is ripped from the womb and slaughtered before she even has a chance to speak."

But Robertson stressed that the Church did not endorse any political party or have an official view on independence.

"We do not preach politics from our pulpits," he wrote.

"Anyone would struggle to find out what the Bible says about Scottish independence, the rate of income tax, wind farms on Lewis or golf courses in Aberdeenshire, because it says nothing.

"We do not have a religious opinion on independence and there are a variety of views within our churches on the subject."

Last week Salmond launched the second phase of his National Conversation where he urged trade unions, the business community, churches and voluntary organisations to contribute to the debate.

A spokesman for the National Secular Society said: "We are against faith schools of any kind and argue that an integrated and tolerant society will not develop by practising religious apartheid on children at the school gates, segregating them on the basis of their parents' beliefs and admitting some while turning away others."