Fraser Sutherland stands in a children's playground, behind the steps up to a slide. He looks down at the camera which is positioned quite low down. He is holding a white book. In the background is a row of houses and a blue sky with clouds.

Our CEO talks religion and politics in The Herald

March 7, 2023

Our CEO Fraser Sutherland spoke to Neil Mackay for a long read in the Sunday Herald on 5 March. They talked about the rising influence of religion on Scottish and global politics and possible impacts on our democracy and human rights. Kate Forbes’s candidacy for first minister has been grabbing headlines in recent weeks because of her well-publicised opposition to equal marriage and support for anti-abortion groups. But the influence of Christianity on Scottish politics is a much wider and more historically rooted issue than this single story might suggest.

Fraser and Neil discussed the increasingly secular profile of Scotland, pointing out that more humanist wedding ceremonies are now carried out in the country than Christian ones. We are a long way from the 1950s, when Scotland was “by far the most Christian part of Britain.” But, Fraser added, evangelical religious groups are increasingly rallying around socially conservative causes in a way that plays down their faith-based origins. Often, the same individuals crop up in different guises, so connections can be drawn between, for example, anti-assisted dying groups and anti-equal marriage groups. Groups are often murkily funded. Together, these things give a false impression of widespread, grass-roots activism disconnected from Christian institutions.

Most worryingly, the example of Roe v Wade being overturned in the USA makes it clear that progressive legislation is never “settled.” “The idea that these matters are set in stone, I don’t accept at all,” Fraser said. We should not be complacent about how the tone of public discourse could shift with a socially conservative first minister in Scotland. Fraser also called attention to the hypocrisy of Christian organisations claiming “persecution” when their attempts to curtail other people’s rights are called out.

Fraser connected all these points to active Humanist Society Scotland campaigns such as on buffer zones around abortion clinics, assisted dying, and Gender Recognition Act reform. You can read the whole article below.

Latest Related Stories

A landscape photo of people in a garden talking at tables with food on them. The photo is taken at a picnic and play event at the Hidden Gardens behind Tramway, Glasgow during World Humanist Day 2023. Text infront reads "World Humanist Day small grants scheme."

Our World Humanist Day small grant scheme opens for 2024

Our World Humanist Day small grant scheme opens for 2024
A view of the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the UN headquarters in Geneva. Circular rows of desks are arranged on the floor but most of the picture is taken up by the ceiling artwork, a textured sculpture in a blue, green, orange, and yellow colour wash with stalactite like formations handing down from it.

We tell UN human rights committee that compulsory religious observance in Scottish schools must end

We tell UN human rights committee that compulsory religious observance in Scottish schools must end
Brian Souter gesticulates with his arms as he speaks. He is wearing a blue suit with a stagecoach logo and has short brown hair, balding on top.

We comment on Humza Yousaf’s relationship with evangelical businessman Brian Souter, funder of US-based organisations alleged to have covered up sexual assault in US

We comment on Humza Yousaf’s relationship with evangelical businessman Brian Souter, funder of US-based organisations alleged to have covered up sexual assault in US
Alice stands on a street wearing a white dress with leather jacket. She has dark pulled back hair and holds her hand to her head. A scottish street stretches away in the background.

Humanist Society interview series: Alice Murray of Back Off Scotland on abortion clinic harassment

Humanist Society interview series: Alice Murray of Back Off Scotland on abortion clinic harassment