Scottish Parliament

Moderator writes to First Minister following election

May 6, 2016

The Moderator of the General Assembly has written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon offering his congratulations as well as an assurance of the denomination’s prayers for politicians following the Scottish Parliament elections.

In the letter Rev David Robertson welcomed Ms Sturgeon's recent visit to a children's project in Milnafua Hall, Alness, which is jointly run by Rosskeen Free Church, and called for a meeting to discuss mutual areas of concern and co-operation for the Church and Scottish Government. 

He wrote: "As Scottish citizens and Christians we pray that your government will bring a period of peace and prosperity for all the people of Scotland.

"The Free Church of Scotland hopes that our congregations will be able to work with you on issues such as poverty, education and justice. 

"We were delighted that you were able to visit one of our works, the Milnafua Hall in Alness. Your visit was much appreciated.

"As a church we seek to serve the whole community and in the words of Jesus to be ‘salt and light’. Unusually in this era of seemingly increasing secularisation and declining churches, we are seeing our church grow and develop.

"This means that we have resources, especially people, who are committed to the good of the places where God has called them to serve. I wonder if it would be possible to meet with you to discuss areas of mutual concern and co-operation?"

Nicola Sturgeon

Above: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently visited Milnafua Hall in Alness, Easter Ross, jointly run by Rosskeen Free Church

In a creative proposal, Mr Robertson told the First Minister that re-establishing Christian schools across Scotland could result in better educational outcomes for the country’s poorest children.  

The Dundee minister voiced concern at the present ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, adding that many youngsters were ‘being denied opportunities’ because their parents could not afford to relocate to a better catchment area, or send them to a private school like many wealthy families do. 

Crediting John Knox’s vision of a church and school in every parish of helping to make Scotland one of the most educated people in the world, the Moderator said Christian education in 21st century Scotland would offer equality, diversity and tolerance to all.

He also urged the Scottish Government to abandon plans to encourage children as young as four-years-old to choose their own gender, describing the belief that gender is fluid as an “unscientific philosophy” and in defiance of human biology. 

Rev David Robertson continued: “We are especially concerned about education. 

“As you know it has always been a fundamental belief of the Scottish Church that education is essential for the good of all. Knox’s maxim, ‘where there is a church, there should be a school’, resulted in the Scottish people becoming one of the most educated and literate people in the world. 

“We are concerned that that is changing, and especially that the poor are being denied the opportunities given by a good education. 

“We know that you share that concern and so we would like to discuss with you one part of the solution.” 

The Dundee minister added: “We believe that there should be more diversity and choice within education. 

“It is wrong that the only people who get to choose are the wealthy, whether by sending their children to private education or paying the housing premium to live in an area with a ‘good’ school. 

“The one size fits all of modern state education, where social engineering seems more important than education, is not working. We believe that children should be taught ‘how’ to think and not ‘what’. 

“That is why we would like to have the opportunity to re-establish Christian education and have schools based upon Christian principles such as equality, diversity and tolerance.” 

The Moderator was also critical of the First Minister’s pre-election pledge to create a third gender for those who did not wish to identify as male nor female, and the inevitable consequences of such a controversial policy in schools. 

Rev David Robertson said: “You emphasised in your election campaign a desire to create a ‘third gender’ and to encourage within our schools the view that children can choose their gender.  

“We do not accept this and regard it as a dangerous and harmful position, with the potential to cause a great deal of harm to Scotland’s children.  

“Of course we accept that there are people who feel that they are not the biological sex they were born with, and such people need help and support. 

“But accepting the unscientific philosophy that there are more than two genders, and that gender is fluid and something we choose, is something that is destructive to humanity. 

“I suspect you may not agree, but what disturbs us is the lack of debate on this and other important subjects. 

“We are just told by lobby groups that this is the ‘right’ position and that anyone who opposes it is reactionary, right-wing and regressive. 

“We hope that in the new Scotland, opportunity for debate and discussion will be allowed, so that ordinary people can have a say – even when it disagrees with what the self–appointed ‘experts’ tell us.”

The new Scottish Parliament will be made up of 63 SNP MSPs, 31 Conservative MSPs, 24 Labour MSPs, six Green MSPs and five Lib Dem MSPs.