Scotland has been warned of sectarian conflict between believers and non-believers. The threat became known after Edinburgh University along with the Scottish Government released The “Faith and Belief Scotland” Report on June 10th. The revealing report is a first of its kind since the religious census of 1851. According to the report, those you identify as Christians are reducing in number while those who identify as atheists are increasing rapidly. Additionally, the chasm of opinion between both groups seems to be deepening as well.
“The report found that attitudes regarding the place of religion in society between those who identify as religious and those who do not ‘are becoming increasingly polarised. This runs the potential risk of a new sectarianism developing. There is a clear need for dialogue between members of these groups so mutual understanding can be built,” stated the report.
A wide range of questions on social attitudes was posed to 1,400 respondents and the results showed highly noticeable differences between believers and non-believers. The report suggests that 50 percent of council pay lip service to protected traits of religion and belief and that there is a strong feeling among individuals who do not associate themselves with any religion that secular and atheistic views are not acknowledged sufficiently at council level. One of the most important findings of the report was the need to set up a national advisory board, which will pay special attention to the voices of secular people and discuss their areas of interest and concern.
Parliamentary officer for Scotland’s bishops, John Deighan, said the threat of sectarianism may be an accurate finding but he was unsure about the percentage of active non-believers in the country.
“I think we have seen that people intolerant to Catholic views are increasingly coming not from the Protestant community but rather from more militant atheists. The answer is tolerance built of the right to manifest your belief in society but the trouble is secularists are repeatedly attempting to undermined the ability of Catholics to do that,” he said.
Anthony Allison, the lead researcher of the report at Edinburgh University, said working on it had been an honour but further and better-funded research was necessary to draw a complete picture of the religious experience in Scotland.