Copies of the Religion and Morals Report submitted to last year’s Synod were recently sent to Members of the Scottish Parliament. A brief, somewhat coloured, article in The Scotsman of 5 March 2002 focused attention on the Report’s criticisms of the continuing deference shown to Romanism by civil and religious leaders in Scotland throughout the previous year. The article also referred to concerns expressed in the Report regarding the disregard shown for the law of God by political leaders drawing up legislation on such matters as abortion, homosexuality and marriage.
Two days later a columnist in the same newspaper wrote an article entitled, Isn’t religion supposed to be about tolerance? He alleged that “in conflicts around the globe, people who profess profound spiritual belief are killing for God”. As he warned readers against thinking that events in the Middle East and Afghanistan or the terrorism of September 11 could not happen here, he reminded them of what he described as “the continuing manifestation of Scotland’s past religious intolerance in the form of the Free Presbyterian Church and its latest denunciation of politicians”. This “latest anti-Catholic blast from the past comes at a time when there are faint flickers of hope in Scotland”. The “hope” is based on evidences detected by the writer of “a new Scotland putting discrimination and sectarianism behind her”. The hope is that the next generation “will be happy that people of all races, religions and backgrounds share their country and their values of tolerance”. The hope includes the removal of the “anachronism” involved in the Act of Settlement that, “if we are to have a monarch”, he or she can neither be nor marry a Roman Catholic.
The writer, educated in an Roman Catholic school but now an agnostic, asserted that he was not expressing a partisan view as he defended the continued existence of Roman Catholic schools, and claimed that “there is no evidence that these schools breed sectarianism”. Those who express in civil and reasoned terms the biblical truth which is the professed faith of the nation and has been the foundation of its civil liberty and social morality, as well as its religious blessings, are dismissed as irrelevant voices from the past who can be treated with contempt and thrown in along with those whose religion involves “the threat of violence and abuse”. “Those who attack Catholic schools and those who attack any links with Catholicism are exhibiting the negative side of the Scottish psyche”. Whether tongue in cheek or not, a later correspondent noted that “the Scottish Executive has promised that it will stamp hard on any person or organisation which incites religious bigotry” and enquired what was to be done about those churchmen who had made this “inflammatory statement”.
We draw attention to articles such as these to illustrate the intolerance for even the concept of truth, or of true religion, on the part of those who profess concern for the toleration of all faiths and none. They seem unable or unwilling to distinguish between, on the one hand, the ruthless intolerance which characterises religions such as Romanism and Islam when in positions of absolute power and, on the other, the expression of views which are warranted by the Word of God and which expose the errors and dangers of these religions. They present these views, and those who hold them, in prejudicial terms in order to secure their rejection. The idea does not appear to occur to them that love to the souls of men and concern for the well-being of the nation may motivate those who endeavour to alert individuals and the nation to the dangers of religious and moral departures from the Word of God, or that what they say may actually be true.
The countenancing of false religion and the repudiation of the true is accompanied in our nation today by the tolerance and promotion of evil practices such as that envisaged in the Civil Partnership Bill, a private member’s measure which aims to give homosexual couples and those who cohabit the same legal rights as married couples. The pseudo-toleration which has become the shibboleth of the progressives of our time is rapidly eating ever more deeply into the foundations of our society and nothing can save us from complete moral disintegration and real intolerance but that revival of true religion for which we must ever be pleading before God’s throne of grace.