Here in the West of Scotland we have a fair idea of what the reality of sectarianism means. Generally it is held to be the singing of obnoxious songs at football matches, threats to individuals involved in football management, generalised violence on a Saturday afternoon outside football grounds, and a rise in domestic violence in Glasgow determined by which football team lost. Do you begin to detect a pattern?
However, contrary to popular perception this violence is not sectarian. Despite what Alec Salmond and the rest of the Scottish political establishment claim, despite BBC, STV, Channel 4, the Guardian and all other media outlets, this is not sectarian, it is tribal.
Does anyone seriously imagine that the Neanderthals who sent Neil Lennon a letter bomb had just come from a Protestant church prayer meeting? The postal threat to Donald Findlay, did that come from an altar boy fresh from the Mass? Is there any group in Scotland with a better record in teaching compassion and love than the Churches?
This violence, this noise, these threats, they don’t come from the Churches, they come from the Green tribe and the Orange tribe. This is tribalism. Instead of Campbells and McDonalds it is Orange and Green.
For the media to play it up as sectarian violence is understandable; they are secularist capitalists with a progressive mindset. As secularists they seize on any opportunity to trash Christians. As capitalists they know that scandal, especially involving the church, sells papers and grabs viewers. As progressives they have an agenda which Christians have the audacity to resist.
Politicians are more culpable, they are supposedly leaders rather than money grubbing media types, but they too have a currency; votes. Which politician is seriously going to buck the trend?
Why have focus groups? So politicians can see what the people think so they can either manipulate it to their advantage or follow after it. The old saw is true, “These are my people, I am their leader, I must follow them.”
From public bar to media outlet to Scottish Parliament the assumption is the same, sectarianism starts with the children. Denominational schools are automatically held to foster sectarianism. I am now going to do something I find awkward, I am going to agree with James MacMillan.
MacMillan is both Scotland’s leading composer and also Scotland’s
leading professional Catholic. McMillan too often uses his undoubted talents to propagate a picture of a Scotland in thrall to a sinister Protestant cabal, probably centred on the New Club in Edinburgh, which is determined to crush Catholics in any way possible. Reading his pronouncements and blogs we get the impression that he lives on a grassy knoll; we Protestants are planning to herd all left footers down to the Broomilaw and ship them back to Ireland where the potato famine still rages.
But on one matter he is right; when he defends the only denominational schools in Scotland, Catholic schools. There are no Protestant state schools, all state schools are secular, often rabidly so.
MacMillan is right because the primary responsibility for educating children does not lie with the state, it lies with the parents. The task of the State is, within reason and according to resources, to facilitate the wishes of parents with regard to the formal education of their children. We do not serve the state, the state serves us.
Reformed theologian Thomas Chalmers argued in the 19th century for Catholic emancipation on the grounds that it was a matter of justice. Anyway he was confident that as long as he had an open Bible he would be able to counter the doctrinal errors of Rome. He did not allow his profound doctrinal disagreements with the Catholic church to blind himself to the fundamental principle of the God given responsibility of assuming one’s freedom. In his instance casting a vote, in our case educating our children in faith. Similarly we should support the right of Muslim parents to school their children within their worldview, erroneous though it is.
For nearly 150 years education in Scotland has been in the hands of the state. Have they really done so well that we should capitulate utterly to the bureaucrats? No education system is neutral, they all propagate a worldview and are involved in social engineering.
Our secularist state education system cannot be absolved of its part in producing the tribalism we see in Scotland today. We have raised generations of children without any understanding of or respect for genuine faith and without any appreciation of the gospel.
The great Abraham Kuyper’s first national political campaign in Holland was against state control of all education. In concert with the Catholics he defended the right of any parents to educate their children in their faith, as long as it did not lead them into danger or criminality. As an admirer of both Chalmers and Kuyper I too would defend the right of Catholics to educate their children according to their deeply held beliefs, even if it means agreeing with James MacMillan.