Religion in Scotland
Religion in Scotland includes all forms of religious organisation and practice. Christianity is the largest faith in Scotland. In the 2011 census, 53.8% of the Scottish population identified as Christian (declining from 65.1% in 2001) when asked: "What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?". The Church of Scotland, often known as The Kirk, is recognised in law as the national church of Scotland. It is not an established church and is independent of state control. However, it is the largest religious grouping in Scotland, with 32.4% of the population. The other major Christian denomination is the Roman Catholic Church, the form of Christianity in Scotland prior to the Reformation, which accounted for 15.9% of the population and is especially important in West Central Scotland and the Highlands.
In recent years other religions have established a presence in Scotland, mainly through immigration and higher birth rates among ethnic minorities, with a small number of converts. Those with the most adherents in the 2011 census are Islam (1.4%, mainly among immigrants from South Asia), Hinduism (0.3%), Buddhism (0.2%) and Sikhism (0.2%). Other minority faiths include the Bahá'í Faith and small Neopagan groups. There are also various organisations which actively promote humanism and secularism, included within the 43.6% who either indicated no religion or did not state a religion in the 2011 census.
- 1 Statistics
- 2 History
- 3 Modern Christianity
- 4 Other faiths
- 5 Religious leaders
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes and references
- 8 External links
|Church of Scotland||2,146,251||42.4||1,717,871||32.4|
|Religion not stated||278,061||5.5||368,039||7.0|
|No religion/Not stated total||1,672,521||33.0||2,309,155||43.6|
Christianity was probably introduced to what is now southern Scotland during the Roman occupation of Britain. It was mainly spread by missionaries from Ireland from the fifth century and is associated with St Ninian, St Kentigern and St Columba. The Christianity that developed in Ireland and Scotland differed from that led by Rome, particularly over the method of calculating Easter and the form of tonsure until the Celtic church accepted Roman practices in the mid-seventh century. Christianity in Scotland was strongly influenced by monasticism, with abbots being more significant than bishops. In the Norman period, there were a series of reforms resulting in a clearer parochial structure based around local churches and large numbers of new monastic foundations, which followed continental forms of reformed monasticism, began to predominate. The Scottish church also established its independence from England, developing a clear diocesan structure and becoming a "special daughter of the see of Rome", but continued to lack Scottish leadership in the form of Archbishops. In the late Middle Ages the crown was able to gain greater influence over senior appointments and two archbishoprics had been established by the end of the fifteenth century. There was a decline in traditional monastic life, but the mendicant orders of friars grew, particularly in the expanding burghs. New saints and cults of devotion also proliferated. Despite problems over the number and quality of clergy after the Black Death in the fourteenth century, and evidence of heresy in the fifteenth century, the Church in Scotland remained stable.
During the sixteenth century, Scotland underwent a Protestant Reformation that created a predominately Calvinist national kirk, which was strongly Presbyterian in outlook. A confession of faith, rejecting papal jurisdiction and the mass, was adopted by Parliament in 1560. The kirk would find it difficult to penetrate the Highlands and Islands, but began a gradual process of conversion and consolidation that, compared with reformations elsewhere, was conducted with relatively little persecution. James VI of Scotland favoured doctrinal Calvinism but supported the bishops. Charles I brought in reforms seen as a return to papal practice. The result was the Bishop's Wars, in 1639–40 ending in virtual independence for Scotland and the establishment of a fully Presbyterian system by the dominant Covenanters. After the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, Scotland regained its kirk, but also the bishops. Particularly in the south-west many of the people here began to attend illegal field conventicles. Suppression of these assemblies in the 1680s known as "the Killing Time". After the "Glorious Revolution" in 1688, Presbyterianism was restored.
The late eighteenth century saw the beginnings of a fragmentation of the Church of Scotland that had been created in the Reformation around issues of government and patronage, but reflected a wider division between the Evangelicals and the Moderate Party. In 1733 the First Secession led to the creation of a series of secessionist churches and the second in 1761 to the foundation of the independent Relief Church. These churches gained strength in the Evangelical Revival of the later eighteenth century. Penetration of the Highlands and Islands remained limited. The efforts of the Kirk were supplemented by missionaries of the SSPCK. Episcopalianism retained supporters, but declined because of its associations with Jacobitism. Beginning in 1834 the "Ten Years' Conflict" ended in a schism from the church led by Dr Thomas Chalmers known as the Great Disruption of 1843. Roughly a third of the clergy, mainly from the North and Highlands, formed the separate Free Church of Scotland. The evangelical Free Churches grew rapidly in the Highlands and Islands. In the late nineteenth century, the major debates were between fundamentalist Calvinists and theological liberals resulted in a further split in the Free Church as the rigid Calvinists broke away to form the Free Presbyterian Church in 1893.
From this point there were moves towards reunion that would ultimately result in the majority of the Free Church rejoining the Church of Scotland in 1929. The schisms left small denominations including the Free Presbyterians and a remnant that had not merged in 1900 as the Free Church. Catholic Emancipation in 1829 and the influx of large numbers of Irish immigrants led to an expansion of Catholicism, with the restoration of the Church hierarchy in 1878. Episcopalianism also revived in the nineteenth century with the Episcopal Church in Scotland being organised as an autonomous body in communion with the Church of England in 1804. Other denominations included Baptists, Congregationalists and Methodists. In the twentieth century, existing Christian denominations were joined by the Brethren and Pentecostal churches. Although some denominations thrived, after World War II there was a steady overall decline in church attendance and resulting church closures for most denominations.
Church of Scotland
The British Parliament passed the Church of Scotland Act 1921, recognising the full independence of the Church in matters spiritual, and as a result of this, and passage of the Church of Scotland (Property and Endowments) Act, 1925, which settled the issue of patronage in the Church, the Church of Scotland was able to unite with the United Free Church of Scotland in 1929. The United Free Church of Scotland was itself the product of the union of the former United Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the majority of the Free Church of Scotland in 1900. The 1921 Act recognised the kirk as the national church and the monarch became an ordinary member of the Church of Scotland, represented at the General Assembly by their Lord High Commissioner.
In the second half of the twentieth century the Church was particularly effected by the general decline in church attendance. Between 1966 and 2006 numbers of communicants in the Church of Scotland dropped from over 1,230,000 to 504,000. Formal membership reduced from 446,000 in 2010 to 398,389 or 7.5% of the total population by yearend 2013  In the twenty-first century the Church faced a financial issues, with a £5.7 million deficit in 2010. In response the church adopted a "prune to grow" policy, cutting 100 posts, introducing job-shares and unpaid ordained staff.
For much of the twentieth and twentieth-first centuries significant numbers of Catholics emigrated to Scotland from Italy, Lithuania and Poland. However, the church has been affected by the general decline in churchgoing. Between 1994 and 2002 Roman Catholic attendance in Scotland declined 19%, to just over 200,000. By 2008, The Bishops' Conference of Scotland estimated that 184,283 attended mass regularly in 2008 - 3.6% of Scotland's population at that time. According to the 2011 census, Catholics comprise 16% of the overall population. In 2011, Catholics outnumbered adherents of the Church of Scotland in several council areas, including North Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire and the most populous one: Glasgow City.
In early 2013, Cardinal O'Brien resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him. Subsequently, allegations were made that several other cases of alleged sexual misconduct took place involving other priests.
After the reunification of the Church of Scotland and the Free Church, some independent Scottish Presbyterian denominations still remained. These included the Free Church of Scotland (formed of those congregations which refused to unite with the United Presbyterian Church in 1900), the United Free Church of Scotland (formed of congregations which refused to unite with the Church of Scotland in 1929), the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (which broke from the Free Church of Scotland in 1893), the Associated Presbyterian Churches (which emerged as a result of a split in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland in the 1980s) and the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) (which emerged from a split in the Free Church of Scotland in 2000). Non-Presbytherian denominations that had entered Scotland, usually from England, before the twentieth century included the Quakers, Baptists, Methodists and Brethren. By 1907 the Open Brethren had 196 meetings and by 1960 it was 350, with perhaps 25,000 people. The smaller Exclusive Brethren had perhaps another 3,000. Both were geographically and socially diverse, but particularly recruited in fishing communities in the Islands and East. The Evangelical Pentecostal churches were present from 1908 and by the 1920s there were three streams: Elim, Assemblies of God and the Apostolic Church. A Holiness movement, inspired by Methodism, emerged in 1909 and by 1915 was part of the American Church of the Nazarene.
Sectarianism became a serious problem in the twentieth century. In the interwar period religious and ethnic tensions between Protestants and Catholics were exacerbated by economic depression. Tensions were heightened by the leaders of the Free Church and Church of Scotland and later the reunified church, who orchestrated a racist campaign against the Catholic Irish in Scotland. Key figures leading the campaign were George Malcolm Thomson and Andrew Dewar Gibb. This focused on the threat to the "Scottish race" based on spurious statistics that continued to have influence despite being discredited by official figures in the early 1930s. This created a climate of intolerance that led to calls for jobs to be preserved for Protestants. After the Second World War the Church became increasingly liberal in attitude and moved away from hostile attitudes. Sectarian attitudes continued to manifest themselves in football rivalries between Protestant and Catholic. This was most marked in Glasgow in the traditionally Roman Catholic team, Celtic, and the traditionally Protestant team, Rangers. Celtic employed Protestant players and managers, but Rangers have had a tradition of not recruiting Catholics. This is not a hard and fast rule however, as evidenced by Rangers signing of the Catholic player Mo Johnston (b. 1963), and in 1999 their first Catholic captain, Lorenzo Amoruso.
Relations between Scotland's churches steadily improved during the second half of the twentieth century and there were several initiatives for cooperation, recognition and union. The Scottish Council of Churches was formed as an ecumenical body in 1924. The foundation of the ecumenical Iona Community in 1938, on the island of Iona off the coast of Scotland, led to a highly influential form of music, which was used across Britain and the US. Leading musical figure John Bell (b. 1949) adapted folk tunes or created tunes in a folk style to fit lyrics that often emerged from the spiritual experience of the community. Proposals in 1957 for union with the Church of England were rejected over the issue of bishops and were severely attacked in the Scottish press. The Scottish Episcopal church opened the communion table up to all baptised and communicant members of all the trinitarian churches and church canons were altered to allow the interchangeability of ministers within specific local ecumenical partnerships. The Dunblane consultations, informal meetings at the ecumenical Scottish Church House in Dunblane in 1961-69, attempted to produce modern hymns that retained theological integrity. They resulted in the British "Hymn Explosion" of the 1960s, which produced multiple collections of new hymns. In 1990, the Scottish Churches' Council was dissolved and replaced by Action of Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS), which attempted to bring churches together to set up ecumenical teams in the areas of prisons, hospitals, higher education and social ministries and inner city projects. At the end of the twentieth century the Scottish Churches Initiative for Union (SCIU), between the Episcopal Church, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Free Church put forward an initiative whereby there would have been mutual recognition of all ordinations and that subsequent ordinations would have satisfied episcopal requirements, but this was rejected by the General Assembly in 2003.
Church attendance in all denominations declined after World War I. Reasons that have been suggested for this change include the growing power of the nation state, socialism and scientific rationalism, which provided alternatives to the social and intellectual aspects of religion. By the 1920s roughly half the population had a relationship with one of the Christian denominations. This level was maintained until the 1940s when it dipped to 40 per cent during World War II, but it increased in the 1950s as a result of revivalist preaching campaigns, particularly the 1955 tour by Billy Graham, and returned to almost pre-war levels. From this point there was a steady decline that accelerated in the 1960s. By the 1980s it was just over 30 per cent. The decline was not even geographically, socially, or in terms of denominations. It most affected urban areas and the traditional skilled working classes and educated working classes, while participation stayed higher in the Catholic Church than the Protestant denominations.
In the 2011 census roughly 54 per cent of the population identified with a form of Christianity and 36.7 per cent stated they had no religion. 5.5 per cent did not state a religion. In 2001, there were a significantly lower 27.5 per cent who stated that they had no religion (which compares with 15.5 per cent in the UK overall). Other more recent studies suggest that those not identifying with a denomination or who see themselves as non-religious may be much higher at between 42 and 56 per cent, depending on the form of question asked.
Islam is the next religious viewpoint after Christianity and non-religious in Scotland. The first Muslim student in Scotland was Wazir Beg from Bombay (now "Mumbai"). He is recorded as being a medical student who studied at the University of Edinburgh between 1858-59. The production of goods and Glasgow's busy port meant that many lascars were employed there. Dundee was at the peak of importing jute; hence, sailors from Bengal were a feature at the port. Records from the Glasgow Sailors' Home show that, in 1903, nearly a third (5,500) of all boarders were Muslim lascars. Most immigration of Muslims to Scotland is relatively recent. The bulk of Muslims in Scotland come from families who immigrated during the late 20th century, with small numbers of converts. In Scotland Muslims represent 0.9 per cent of the population (42,557). Two important mosques in Scotland are Edinburgh Central Mosque, which took more than six years to complete at a cost of £3.5m, and has a main hall that can hold over one thousand worshippers, and Glasgow Central Mosque.
Maharajah Duleep Singh moved to Scotland in 1854, taking up residence at the Grandtully estate in Perthshire. According to the Scottish Sikh Association, the first Sikhs settled in Glasgow in the early 1920s with the first Gurdwara established in South Portland Street. However, the bulk of Sikhs in Scotland come from families who immigrated during the late 20th century. In the 2001 Census there were 6,572 Sikhs, predominantly in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but also in Dundee and Aberdeen.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century there had been an influx of Jews, most from eastern Europe and escaping poverty and persecution. Many were skilled in the tailoring, furniture and fur trades and congregated in the working class districts of Lowland urban centres, like the Gorbals in Glasgow. The largest community in Glasgow had perhaps reached 5,000 by the end of the century. A synagogue was built at Garnethill in 1879. Over 8,000 Jews were resident in Scotland in 1903. Refugees from Nazism and the Second World War further augmented the Scottish Jewish community, which has been estimated to have reached 80,000 in the middle of the century.
According to the 2001 census, approximately 6,400 Jews lived in Scotland, most of whom were in Glasgow (about 5,000) and the next largest community in Edinburgh (about 1,000). By the 2011 census this had fallen to 5,887 persons. Scotland's Jewish population continues to be predominantly urban. As with Christianity, the practising Jewish population continues to fall, as many younger Jews either become secular, or intermarry with other faiths. Scottish Jews have also emigrated in large numbers to the USA, England and the Commonwealth for economic reasons, as other Scots have done.
The bulk of Scottish Hindus settled there in the second half of the 20th century. At the 2001 Census, 5,600 people identified as Hindu, which equated to 0.1% of the Scottish population. Most Scottish Hindus are of Indian origin, or at least from neighbouring countries, such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Many of these came after Idi Amin's expulsion from Uganda in the 1970s, and some also came from South Africa. There are also a few of Indonesian and Afghan origin. A temple in the West End of Glasgow, opened in 2006. However, it was severely damaged by a fire in May 2010. The ISKCON aka "Hare Krishna" also operates out of Lesmahagow in South Lanarkshire. There are also temples in Edinburgh and Dundee with plans announced in 2008 for a temple in Aberdeen.
Scotland's Bahá'í history began around 1905 when European visitors, Scots among them, met `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, in Ottoman Palestine. One of the first and most prominent Scots who became a Bahá'í was John Esslemont (1874–1925). Starting in the 1940s a process of moving to promulgate the religion called pioneering by Bahá'ís began for the purpose of teaching the religion. These were joined by new converts and established local Spiritual Assemblies and eventually a Bahá'í Council for all Scotland was elected under the National Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom. According to the 2001 Census in Scotland, roughly four hundred people living there declared themselves to be Bahá'ís, compared to a 2004 figure of approximately 5,000 Bahá'ís in the United Kingdom.
Modern Neopagan religions inspired by pre-Christian British and Celtic beliefs, such as Wicca, Neo-druidism and Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism have some adherents. While the culturally-based Neopagan traditions (such as Celtic Reconstructionism) may be quite comfortable with Christianity and open about their practices and beliefs, some members of traditions who place more emphasis on occult practices (such as Wicca and Ceremonial magic) tend to fear persecution and practise more discreetly.
- Church of Scotland: The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland convenes the annual Assembly, but does not "lead", the Church of Scotland. Moderators are limited to serving one year in office. The Moderator-designate is nominated in October and takes office in the following May. The Moderator for 2014–15 is the Right Reverend Doctor John Chalmers, after the Rev. Dr. Angus Morrison was unable to take up the role in May 2014 for health reasons.
- Roman Catholic Church in Scotland: Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh (see Bishops' Conference of Scotland, installed September 8, 2013).
- Scottish Episcopal Church: The Presiding Bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church is called the Primus. The current Primus is David Chillingworth, Diocese of Saint Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, who has held the role since 13 June 2009.
- Free Church of Scotland: The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland for 2013 is the Rev. Angus J. Howat, an elder at Ayr and Kilwinning Free Church.
- Free Church of Scotland (Continuing): The current Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) is the Rev. James I Gracie who is the minister in Edinburgh.
- Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland: The current Moderator of Synod for the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is the Rev D Campbell.
- Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland: The Moderator of the RPCS is the Rev. Gerald Milligan from Stranraer.
Notes and references
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Historically Rangers have maintained a staunch Protestant and anti-Catholic tradition which includes a ban on signing Catholic players.
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I've been Rangers' first Catholic captain
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- Resources, ideas and information for anti-sectarian and religious equality education
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- New Hindu temple opens in Glasgow BBC News, 19 July 2006
- Fire severely damages Hindu temple in Glasgow news.bbc.co.uk, 30 May 2010
- Hindu temple planned for Aberdeen BBC News, 22 September 2008.
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- "In the United Kingdom, Bahá'ís promote a dialogue on diversity". One Country 16 (2). July–September 2004.
- "New Primus for the Scottish Episcopal Church New Primus for the Scottish Episcopal Church". Scottish Episcopal Church Website. Scottish Episcopal Church. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
- "Moderator Designate announced". Free Church of Scotland. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- Clancy, Thomas Owen, "Church institutions: early medieval" in Lynch (2001).
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- Clancy, Thomas Owen, "Nechtan son of Derile" in Lynch (2001).
- Clancy, Thomas Owen, "Columba, Adomnán and the Cult of Saints in Scotland" in Broun & Clancy (1999).
- Cross, F.L. and Livingstone, E.A. (eds), Scotland, Christianity in in "The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church", pp. 1471–1473. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1997. ISBN 0-19-211655-X
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- Hillis, Peter, The Barony of Glasgow, A Window onto Church and People in Nineteenth Century Scotland, Dunedin Academic Press, 2007.
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- Pope, Robert (ed.), Religion and National Identity: Wales and Scotland, c.1700–2000 (2001)
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- Church of Scotland
- Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland[dead link]
- Free Church of Scotland
- Scottish Baptist Union[dead link]
- Scottish Episcopal Church
- Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)
- Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland
- United Free Church of Scotland
- Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Scotland
- Humanist Society of Scotland
- The Virtual Jewish History Tour – Scotland
- Jewish Encyclopedia on Scotland
- Tarbat Discovery Programme with reports on excavations at Portmahomack.
- Scottish Pagan Federation