IT’S such a pity that Enric Miralles did not incorporate carved images of angels into the timbers of the ceiling of the Holyrood Parliament building for, as Pope Benedict XVI noted in Westminster Hall when referring the the carved angels there, “they summon us to acknowledge the vital contribution that religious belief has made and can continue to make to the life of the nation” (17/09/2010).

Many in the land seem fearful to recognise the value, even the legitimacy, of religious belief in political life.

Yet, like some choric refrain or perhaps a tribal chant oft heard within the realm of political discourse (attached to some legislative programme or other), is the phrase “for a fairer and more progressive Scotland”.

READ MORE: Televised SNP leadership debates set to go ahead​

The treatment being meted out to Kate Forbes over these past few days renders that same phrase indubitably hollow, even hypocritical: being a practising, committed Christian doesn’t appear to be de rigueur in such a “fair” and “progressive” land. There is a terrible contradiction to be found in these assaults upon Ms Forbes’s religious belief: that, within a democratic state, we should encounter such an attack upon this young woman’s freedom as a public servant to espouse a Christian identity.

In too many parts of the world, the persecution of Christians has become a commonplace. Surely in Scotland – this “fair and progressive” Scotland – there should be no taint in language or behaviour of what is even remotely intolerant of Christianity. We might as well hold a bonfire of the Saltires.

It is worth reflecting on another part of the speech given by Pope Benedict XVI in Westminster Hall. It is all too pertinent to the present scene, given the nature of, and the motivations intrinsic to, the attacks on Kate Forbes.

“Religion … is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance.

READ MORE: Kate Forbes says having children outside of marriage is 'wrong'

“There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere ... And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience.

“These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life.”

As First Minister, Ms Forbes will know instinctively what service to the common good demands, make a vital contribution to nation’s future, create a truly fairer and progressive Scotland, and so much more than any “shrewd politician” might vacuously promise.

Patrick Hynes
Airdrie, North Lanarkshire

SO Kate Forbes has a religion, why the big hoo-ha? I am sure others have theirs as well without the song and dance.

She has stated her position on legislation during her maternity leave and somehow gets pelters for it. Perhaps a lot of people are too accustomed to politicos body-swerving issues or telling porkies.

READ MORE: Kate Forbes loses SNP endorsements following equal marriage comments 

Should we not be rejoicing a candidate willing to tell the truth as to her take on matters?

My take is that independence is the overriding issue. That way our fuel bills will not be at Westminster prices.

M Ross