Never mind the non-believers, feel Scotland’s ‘spirituality’

Never mind the non-believers, feel Scotland’s ‘spirituality’

The number of Scots who say they are not religious has risen to almost three quarters, according to new research, but ‘the role of spirituality in people’s lives remains important,’ says Rev Norman Smith, above, convener of the Church of Scotland’s grandly-named Mission and Discipleship Council.

Reacting to figures that show that just under a quarter (23.6 percent) said they were religious, while 72.4 percent said they were not, Smith tried, and signally failed to put a positive spin on the results.

The Church of Scotland is well aware that formal church membership has declined, yet as our own research, detailed in Steve Aisthorpe’s book The Invisible Church shows, the role of spirituality in people’s lives remains important.

As a Church we are not driven by numbers, although we are committed to sharing our faith through our words and our deeds.

It is no accident that people of faith across the country are over-represented in volunteer activities from supporting youth groups and operating dementia cafes to running food banks.

He added:

We are also exploring new, fresh ways to express our faith and planting new churches, such as Dunfermline East, St Columba’s Inverness, and through our pioneer ministries.

The primary task of the church has not changed throughout the ages but the way we tackle that task continues to evolve. In the midst of decline you can find growth and in the midst of growth you can find decline. That is how it has always been.

A similar poll in 2011 showed that 56 percent of Scots said they were not religious while 35 percent said they were.

The Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) said the findings raised concerns about official statistics on religion in Scotland.

It suggested that the way in which census data and other studies of religion were being carried out gave higher figures of religiosity due to the way the question was framed.
In the latest Social Attitudes Survey in 2016 people were asked whether they:

Regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion.

Almost six in ten (58 percent) said they didn’t belong to a religion while just over four in ten (41 percent) said they did.

Gordon MacRae, above, Chief Executive of HSS, said:

These new findings raise concerns about the official statistics on the adherence to religion in Scotland.

We know that many people identify with a particular religious community, usually due to family ties, but are not themselves practising that religion.

These latest findings would suggest there could be as much as a 15 percent difference between ‘official statistics’ and the reality of religion’s place in the Scottish public daily lives.

This raises major questions about key policy decisions made by government regarding special rights given to religious bodies under law. For example, the right of Scotland’s churches to hold the balance of power on local education committees.

We need a new consensus in Scottish politics that respects and protects individuals’ right to freedom of religion and belief and separating this from policy making. Scotland’s democracy needs to get to a place where we stop blurring the lines of church and state.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church described HSS’s response to the latest poll as:

Confused, yet not surprising.

And it unconfusingly added:

The question ‘are you religious’ does not lend itself to a binary ‘Yes/No’ answer since religiosity tends to exist on a sliding scale rather than at either end of a stark spectrum.

That 72 percent of Scots describe themselves as ‘not religious’ should not be read as implying, they have ‘no religion’.

Last year it was reported here that if people weren’t coming to church, the church ought to go to the people “in their natural environments”. Chillingly, the Fresh Expressions initiative included targeting school kids and even police officers.

Phil Potter, Archbishops’ Missioner and Fresh Expressions team leader said:

I realised we had 10,000 people on our doorstep who were not coming into the church. In fact, there is a statistic that says 50 percent of the population are completely unchurched – not just the children or even their parents, it was the grandparents who were completely unchurched.

Hat tip: Jim Haught

• See ‘Spirituality’: A word that makes my hackles rise.

66 responses to “Never mind the non-believers, feel Scotland’s ‘spirituality’”

  1. Stephen Mynett says:

    I am reminded of a line a friend said to me: “Bob and Hutton go together as well as Dunning and Kruger.”

    I often wonder if all of the trolls we get are really religious or just out to be a nuisance. I think we can safely say barmy Bob is a godhead but some of the stuff Prophery Farouk and co spout seems to be posted purely to annoy and be offensive but perhaps some people really can be that pathetic

  2. Broga says:

    Gui : They have free will within the context of what was determined and predicted long ago in the bible.

    Expecting religious people to be sensible can damage your health.

  3. Gui says:

    So, there is no freedom after all.

  4. Broga says:

    Gui: You are free to believe in God, Jesus (the same thing), the Holy Ghost – I don’t know where the Ghost fits in. We would need an expert like barriejohn to explain that.

    As for the rest you are free to believe whatever the priests say you must believe. Little tip and wrinkle as Captain Mannering would say: believing in evolution is out; Adam and Eve and the Talking Snake are in.

  5. hallis yaks says:

    @barry duke,broga,barriejohn.I have being a keen observer in your little debate with farouk dauda hamman and how he back his point with quotes from the bible.But i see no where you guys presented a concrete proved regarding your arguments and quotes from your scriptures,texts or any other gospels of atheist book.But rather your babblings,confusions,mockery and curses.And by blocking farouk,barry duke this shows that you cannot withstand the authenticity and truth of his messages because your ranting and blah blah blah are products of your fake concocted,superstitious and
    scientific knowledge;which your scrap intelligence cannot explained nor understand how the REAL world works.

  6. Barry Duke says:

    Hallis Yaks indeed. For fuck’s sake give it up Farouk. Do you think I am a complete idiot. Yaks/Farouk if the best you can do is support your position by quoting a book of fairy stories, then I suggest you start re-educating youself. Dawkins’God Delusion would be a good starting point. Anyway, with a name like yours, shouldn’t you be worshipping Mohammed? Don’t bother to respond because I’ve barred you again, and will do so once more if you try and get past me with another alias.

  7. Broga says:

    Hallis Yaks: Read “The God Delusion”, consider what it says, and then return here as an atheist. Although your contradictory bible, read with intellectual honesty, would have the same result.

  8. RussellW says:

    hallis yaks aka “Farouk”

    You have made the classic religiot blunder. Atheism doesn’t have any scriptures, sacred texts or doctrines, it’s not a religion. The onus is on believers to establish the existence of their particular invisible friend.

  9. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Re the Bible, free will and predestination, here’s a verse that he WON’T be able to explain away, that disproves the existence of his god, yet I heard Christians quoting it on many occasions without seemingly realizing that.

    “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11 KJV)

  10. Broga says:

    Barriejohn: ” but time and chance happeneth to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11 KJV)” I like that.

    I also like: “a bunch of biological machines temporarily inhabiting a mote of dust” Brian Cox.

    I particularly like the word “temporarily”. In view of the way we have trashed the planet, exterminated other species and slaughtered and tortured ourselves (much influenced by the pestilence of religion) we have already been here too long.

  11. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Humankind has an inflated sense of its own importance, and religion panders to that sentiment.

  12. Broga says:

    barriejohn: We have eternal souls, we are made in God’s image and we are beloved of God. Bloody hell! If God has an image would it be the weak, spindly legs and arms and hairless body of humans or that of a tiger with its “fearful symmetry” or a snow leopard.

    Anyway our body is a crap design with knackered backs, dodgy plumbing and the heart and lung system a convoluted mess.

  13. Barry Duke says:

    He doesn’t give up, BarrieJohn. He’s come back with two more posts, much longer than his last, using LOTS OF BLOCK CAPS and the names Solomon Idris and John al Bashir Abubakar. Still no evidence though of the authenticity of the Bible.

    I shouldn’t be in the least surprised if he tries to post as Jesus Christ himself.

  14. barriejohn says:

    I’m surprised that he hasn’t tried Abdul Abulbul Amir yet.

  15. barriejohn says:

    These people who think that we atheists have never read the Bible, and that if only we would the scales would fall from our eyes, make me laugh. It’s because we know so much about the book that we realize that it’s not “divinely inspired”! I know the following link has been shared here before, but I’d love any Bible-believing Christian to attempt to answer it , because they’ll burst a blood vessel if they do::