I READ with interest two letters in The National on February 27 on the politics of religion. My letter is mainly in response to Alistair McLeish.

At its most simple, politics is about power and putting society into some semblance of order. Religion is also about power and putting society into some semblance of order. They are two sides of the same coin.

It was no accident that the reinstatement of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 was housed in the General Assembly rooms of the Church of Scotland, which publicised the role of the Kirk in Scottish history. In Scotland, however, it is a custom that a minister of religion cannot serve in Westminster or the devolved Scottish Parliament.

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Compare and contrast this with the Church of England’s Lords Spiritual and Temporal who officiate at Westminster Palace. I think Father Ted put it most succinctly: “What is the difference between a fascist and a priest, Dougal?" “Well, there is a whole world of difference. You see, a fascist dresses in black and walks around telling everyone what to do whereas a priest, well he dresses in black ... and ... walks about ... telling people what to do!”

Jesus of Nazareth, aka Yeshua, took on the politicians of the day. The Zealots, who wanted independence from Rome; the Pharisees, who demanded strict observance of traditional and written law; and the Saducees, a Jewish sect or party who denied that the dead were resurrected. The Pharisees were reminded by Jesus that they were hypocrites.

Unfortunately, the early Christian church became in effect a bureaucracy, consisting of a network of organisations. These were governed by rules and regulations made by committees. Like politics, membership and access to churches costs money. Many church rules have little or nothing to do with scripture but everything to do with church governance. Politics again.

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In medieval Scotland in the mid 16th century, the big political discussion was with the growing movement for Scotland to be independent from the Church of Rome.This was finally achieved in 1560 with the ratification by the Scottish Parliament of the Scots Confession of Faith drafted by reformer John Knox and Roman Catholic bishop John Winram.

The Confession is the nearest we have to a written constitution, although it concentrates on the Scots character as well as the politics of religion. However, religion and faith are different things and many people profess to have a religion, but in fact have little or no faith!

Lastly, faith and religion has proved difficult to kill off. The influence of faith and religion is all around us and not just historically. Max Weber, in his essay and book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, linked the growth of capitalism to Calvinism. EP Thomson linked Methodism to the industrial revolution in his epic The Making of the English Working Class. I believe we live in a pluralist society and that all groups can peacefully co-exist.

WJ Graham
East Kilbride

READER Isabelle Gow seems to think religion and state are separate in Scotland. (Letters, Mar 4). I would have thought she should have been aware that the Scottish Government, in common with all governments in the UK, funds Roman Catholic schools. Faith instruction is provided in these schools and the Church has the final say in staff appointments. Also, churches have the right to appoint members to council education committees. Hardly a separation of church and state.

As a church-attending Christian, I firmly believe that all state schools should be secular. However, it’s not going to happen. All major political parties know that adopting such a policy would cost them votes.

Douglas Morton

AT the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election in the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch seat, Kate Forbes received 24,192 votes with a 8.5% increase from her previous victory in 2016. Her nearest rival only recorded a mere 8,331 votes. This momentous landslide triumph with the incredible majority of 15,861 proves that she has a far wider appeal to the electorate than the confined parameters of SNP supporters. This appeal is the ingredient desperately required to bring about independence for our nation.

An Ipsos poll last month asked the question “Who would do a good job as First Minister?” Kate Forbes received a +13 rating and Humza Yousaf received -17. The SNP is in “slack water” at the moment. It failed to win council by-elections in West Lothian and Aberdeen despite having had the most votes in both wards in May 2022. The time is ripe for a new direction to energise the campaign towards independence.

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Kate Forbes is articulate, intelligent and energetic, and as Finance Secretary she earned nationwide acclaim for stepping into the breach and delivering a meaningful Budget at extremely short notice. Humza Yousaf has handled his NHS portfolio diligently. Regrettably he is a poor public speaker and is often incoherent. Articulation is a prime requisite in a politician’s armour.

Besides independence, the main thrust of Kate Forbes’s campaign is the eradication of poverty. She has confronted this first-hand in her mainly rural constituency. Indeed, because of cost-of-living factors rural poverty can be more pronounced than urban poverty. It is often hidden, as people in the countryside tend to cover up their social deprivation with stoic forbearance.

Our nation is at a crossroads at the moment. We are being battered by the Brexit shambles, high energy costs and a overall cost-of-living crisis due to Westminster mismanagement and incompetence.

To win independence we must hammer home the economic case on a daily basis, and I believe that Kate Forbes is the best candidate to get that case across to the Scottish electorate and the politician most feared by our Unionist opposition.

Ian Telfer
Tain, Ross-shire