Midwives too must fit into the system

I could not agree more with Reverend David Robertson (Letters, 20 December) that the secularist view should not be the only one to be heard. But then, neither should the religious one.

Rev Robertson accuses secularists of being in the minority. Leaving the ambiguity of that claim to one side, the midwives who took their objections to the Supreme Court were very much in the minority among their profession, yet expected the system to change to accommodate them.

Let us assume Rev Robertson advertised a job, say in administration, and I applied. Despite me being an atheist, he should not have any problems employing me.

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Now let’s say I objected to processing certain things because my philosophy disagrees with his faith. Would he take those objections on board?

Would he indeed change the conditions of the job and workplace to accommodate my atheism? Of course he would not. He should not, and I would not expect him to do so.

The difference is I would not apply for such a job in the first instance, as I know my views would be incompatible with the employment and workplace.

Anyone who goes into a career knowing there will and must be a conflict between their employment and their faith or philosophy is frankly in the wrong job and either they need to change, or leave, rather than expecting conditions of employment for the majority to change to accommodate them.

Leslie Thomson

Moredunvale Green


Rev David Robertson (Letters, 20 December) asks why the religious or philosophical view of secularists should be the only one allowed in public life in Scotland.

The fact that he asks this question in a letter expressing his own views to readers of a national newspaper might help readers judge if the question needed asking.

Secularist groups have no wish to exclude views from public debate, but the nature of law-making is such that when two views clash, the law cannot side with both. Every group which campaigns on legal issues wishes its view to prevail when the law is laid down.

It is therefore absurd to complain, as Rev Robertson does, that secularists “insist that the whole of society must be governed according to their views”.

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To campaign for or against a law is to insist on society being governed according to your view, which, according to Rev Robertson’s logic, would make the campaigners on both sides arrogant and intolerant.

Rev Robertson has himself campaigned on legal issues, including same-sex marriage. He wanted society to be governed by his view that marriage should be the sole preserve of heterosexual 

This is worth remembering when, in his letter, he poses as a champion of “freedom” and “diversity”.

Robert Canning


Bridge of Earn

In his letter of 20 December about the two Catholic midwives losing their claim to be exempt even from admin roles in pregnancy termination, David Robertson claims that secularists want “only their views to be allowed in public life in Scotland”.

Secularism has no “religious or philosophical” position at all. We argue only for religious ideas to have no special privilege under the law.

This is not about the rights and wrongs of abortion, on which we all have a personal view, but about legislation made by elected and accountable public representatives.

I would fight for Mr Robertson’s right to campaign for a change in the law but publicly funded professionals must shelve the debate when at work.

Neil Barber

Edinburgh Secular Society

Saughtonhall Drive

David Robertson hit the secularist nail on the head (Letters, 20 December). Most secularists operate on the simple principle that in the workplace everyone should be forced to participate in whatever an average secular humanist would be happy to join in with, and no-one should be allowed to participate in anything the average secular humanist wouldn’t want to join in with.

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This principle is founded on special pleading and chronic bias, and leads to secularists being outraged by some taking part in optional prayers before council meetings, but wanting medical staff to be forced to participate in the killing of the unborn, contrary to their conscience.

Richard Lucas



One can understand the difficulties involved in deciding the rights and wrongs of the Catholic midwives and the decision that was arrived at by the Supreme Court.

However, there had to be some sort of resolution and we are lucky to have skilled and experienced members of the judiciary to make a legal judgment on the issue.

Indeed, since the 18th century, we have had the ability to appeal to a higher court than has existed in Scotland, even though this was not taken into account by the Treaty of Union of 1707.

Perhaps, one of the 
beauties of the Union is that it is a constantly evolving creation which exists not for the sole benefit of any one part of the Union, but for the whole of it.

A separate Scotland 
would have to adhere to judgments made by the 
European Court of Human Rights, much as it does in the UK currently.

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive