Scotland's Christian political landscape

By Simon Barrow
March 13, 2007

There's a good article on Christian political influence (and lack of it) in Scotland today, in the Herald newspaper.

In 1979, 67% of the Catholic vote went Labour, while only 7% went SNP. By 1992, that had declined to 53% Labour, with 16% for the SNP. Since then, Alex Salmond has courted Catholic voters with hearty support for separate schooling and repeal of the discriminatory Act of Settlement.

Professor James Mitchell, of Strathclyde University, argues Catholics' pro-Labour habit is less about religion than because the party supported Irish immigrants, and that all such voter blocks are now becoming less predictable and loyal.

"It is easy to overstate the role of religion in politics today, but it is also easy to understate its importance in the past," observes the academic.

The next question is whether the hierarchy can sway the votes of church adherents.

There is little evidence it does. Catholic churches have given prominence to Pro-Life candidates' campaigns, but they have failed dismally. The pressure exerted by the Church over the repeal of Section 28, the law on teaching about homosexuality in schools, made no discernible impact.

Catholics and those from other denominations now say the law allowing gay adoption is mobilising Christians, and that is where the potential for other smaller parties comes in.

Also covered are the Christian People's Alliance (a Christian Democrat party who the Catholic Bishop of Motherwell appears close to endorsing) and the Scottish Christian Party (an Englishman standing against a progressive Green) who tried to corner the new Tory leader recently: See Flinging Jesus at David Cameron.

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