Wee Free clergyman brands gender and child policies “evil”.
In the run-up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections, a Free Church of Scotland minister has branded the Scottish National Party (SNP) as “Satanic” over their stance on gender fluidity and one of their key policies on children in an outspoken and strongly-worded letter to his congregation, asking them to think before voting SNP.
Reverend Paul Gibson of Knox Church in Perth, part of the “Free Kirk” or “Wee Frees” as they are known, published his letter online in the wake of the recent announcement SNP party leader and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) that if re-elected, the SNP would restructure gender recognition laws in Scotland to bring it into line with “international best practice”. This would include individuals being allowed to change their gender on their birth certificates without medical consultation or authorisation from a committee, and for non-binary people to be able to state their gender fluidity on official documentation.
Insisting that “The Scriptures plainly teach that God is the author of all life (and therefore the sole designator of each person’s sex)”, Rev Gibson, also taking a side-swipe at same-sex marriage, insists that human beings are made male and female, that God “ordained the institution of marriage between a man and woman as the pinnacle of all human relationships”, and that “He has not only enabled the biological process of procreation but also given this married partnership a divinely ordained responsibility of raising their offspring according to His precepts.”
Continuing in what can only be called a rant, Rev Gibson states “We have already seen widespread celebration of the oxymoron that is same-sex marriage… …our authoritarian “progressives” want to take us further into the darkness by effectively disregarding the God-given authority and responsibility of parents, as well as allowing – if not even encouraging – all people to choose which gender they wish to identify with. You almost have to pinch yourself each time you even think about it – so extreme is the departure, not just from biblical morality, but basic wisdom and common sense. Can a government really be this foolish and that Satanic?! The answer, tragically, is yes.”
Conceding that “there is a good degree of truth to the statement, “they’re all as bad as each other” – at least from a Christian perspective”, Rev Gibson goes onto claim that “I for one have no burning desire to champion the cause of one party over the others within the church, nor to make out that one is worse than the others purely on the basis of some long held political bias”, but then continues, “However, when you consider the massive potential there is for the Named Person Scheme to be used as a means of interfering with the role of parents who seek to raise their children according to Christian values, coupled together with our government’s plans regarding gender, you would have to conclude that true believers need to think long and hard as to whether such a political party – one which seems intent on destroying any lasting imprint of God’s design – can honestly be supported in good conscience before our Creator.”
Really, Paul dear? You are trying to say your god is the designer and creator of all life, who decides the sex of every individual, that the same god ordained marriage between a man and woman for procreation and bringing up children, you call same-sex marriage an “oxymoron”, you brand the SNP as Satanic, say you have no bias, then state that “true believers” cannot support the SNP?
A lot to get through here, but deep breath…
The SNP are Satanic, and by inference anti-Christian?
For a great many years now the SNP have been funded by the deeply religious Stagecoach buses founder and owner, Brian Souter. That is the same Brian Souter who led a campaign to retain the deeply homophobic legislation, Section 28 (in England) / 22A (in Scotland), which made it illegal to ‘promote’ homosexuality in schools. That legislation effectively made it illegal for LGBT+ young people to mention their sexuality and thus further entrenched guilt and depression in many. Although I truly admire the SNP government in Scotland and am a firm supporter of Scottish independence, that they continue to receive money from Souter is one of the main reasons I refuse to join the party.
Every Education Committee in Scotland must, by law, have a religious, i.e. Christian, representative upon it. In ten years in power, and in five years of a majority government, the SNP have done nothing to change that, despite only 39% of Scots now counting themselves as religious, and church membership and attendance in sharp decline in Scotland.
The SNP administration have built more new Roman Catholic schools than any administration previous to them.
Every school in Scotland must offer Religious and Moral Education (RME), which parents can opt their children out of. Few parents are aware of this right, and when the SNP government were petitioned by the Scottish Secular Society to change this to an “opt-in” – whereby the schools would have to ask parents if they wanted their children to receive RME – they downright refused to do so.
John Mason MSP of the SNP in 2014 tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament stating that creationism should be taught in schools as science could not disprove it (yes, dears, he really asked science to prove a negative). The motion failed, but that it got as far as being considered underlines the fact that the SNP government is in fact riddled with Christians.
The SNP candidate for Central Scotland, Sophia Coyle, is a committed Christian and ardent anti-abortionist, and is also opposed to same-sex couples adopting children.
The Scottish government has an advisory committee on religion, which secular, humanist and atheist groups were not made aware of until 24 hours before it’s first sitting. The Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, Rev David A Robertson – effectively Rev Gibson’s boss – sits upon that committee.
God designates the sex of every individual?
Well firstly, biological sex, i.e. how we are born, and psychological gender are two different things. Gender Dysphoria is a recognised medical condition, which has been deeply researched by experts in the field, not “progressives”, and the conclusion of science is that a transgender woman is a woman, a transgender man is a man, and a non-binary person is a non-binary person – which is precisely what transgender and non-binary people have been telling cisgender people since time began.
Being transgender or non-binary is no more a choice than being cisgender is. If anyone disagrees with me, then I challenge them to present me with the peer-reviewed science disproving Gender Dysphoria, or stating it is a choice. And note I said “peer-reviewed science”. Do not even try presenting that dusty old book of Bronze Age goat herders campfire tales; that is not the proof, it is the claim. And if anyone still disagrees and claims that gender is a choice, then tell me when you chose to be cisgender?
I think I speak for all transgender and non-binary people that while we are happy with who we are now, if we could have chosen to avoid the confusion with our gender identity, the mental turmoil, the mixed emotions, the depression, the ostracisation from family, friends, and society in general, the abuse, the threats and the actual violence visited upon us, we would have never opted for it. As it is we never got that choice, and all the psychological damage and abusive treatment we have suffered has been at the hands of others, not our own.
Of course the greatest place where Rev Gibson’s argument of his god designating everyone’s biological sex falls down is when intersex babies, with genitals from both sides of the gender binary are born. When an intersex baby is born, if God existed, would that then not be that God’s design? One wonders how Rev Gibson would cope were he father to such a child. Would he decide the child’s gender, and authorise surgery to assign his chosen gender? If he did so, would he not be interfering with God’s design? Or would he leave it to the child to decide when they were old enough which gender they were? If so, and surgery were carried out, would that child not then be interfering with God’s design? And would that child leaning towards one gender not then completely destroy Rev Gibson’s argument of gender being a “choice”? Or if the child grew to realise they were happly to remain intersex, which would be adhering to “God’s design”, would that not then completely destroy Rev Gibson’s arguments against gender fluidity?
If you’re reading this, Rev Gibson, I suggest you sit down and consider the above carefully – a large glass of perspective and soda may help. And while your at it, consider that the only person who is the ultimate expert on their gender is the individual concerned. And that applies to transgender, genderfluid / non-binary, and cisgender people.
Marriage was ordained by God as one man / one woman for procreation and bringing up families?
By ‘God’, Rev Gibson here of course means the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible. I can only take it by making such a statement that to add to his sins, the reverend gentleman is also a young earth creationist, who maintains that the Bible is to be taken literally as the unerring word of his God, and that the entire universe, the Earth, and all life – including mankind – were created in six days, 6000 years ago (someone forgot to tell the Egyptians, in the same region where the scriptures were written, and who have a recorded history going back 7000 years). Unfortunately for Rev Gibson, that has long been proven to be cobblers, and just as mankind long predates the Bible, so does marriage, which has been found in every culture on the face of the globe as a social contract between two people who love each other.
If Rev Gibson insists that marriage was instituted by HIS God, then I leave it to him to tell every married couple in Scotland who are Muslim, Hindu, some other non-Christian religion, or of no religion, that they are not married. And once Police Scotland are done with him for Religious Hate Speech, he may wish to look at what Scots Law has to say about marriage, and the fact that it makes little mention of religious faith.
Likewise for Rev Gibson is to claim that marriage is for one man / one woman is to be a hypocrite to his own faith. In the scriptures polygamous marriage is the most common form, with monogamous marriage being the exception rather than the rule. I often found it amusing that religious objectors claimed that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy, which they called sinful, when it is so common in the Bible; just as the same people claimed it would lead to incest, when it is equally common in the Bible, and if creationists were to be believed, then we would all ultimately be the descendants of incestuous unions of the children of Adam and Eve.
If marriage is for procreation and bringing up families alone, one has to ask if Rev Gibson has ever refused to marry an elderly couple, or a couple unable to have children due to matters of physical disability? This is another piece of hypocrisy I intensely dislike from homophobic clergy, who bang on about procreation and family, yet will happily marry elderly couples and those who cannot have children. This entire argument falls down on the fact that people marry for love, and for companionship. My own parents often stated they married for companionship, my siblings and I came along later. So if a heterosexual couple marry for love and companionship, although they be elderly, unable to have children through physical disability, or even if one or both are asexual, then exactly the same applies to same-sex couples.
Rev Gibson calls same-sex marriage an “oxymoron”. He must agree then that it makes sense? Or is he just as ignorant as many others using that word are nowadays? An oxymoron is not, as many think, a mere contradiction in terms. Rather it is a contradiction which ultimately makes sense.
The Oxford English Dictionary gives this definition of ‘oxymoron’;
“A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true).”
We can see from that example that “falsely true” whilst apparently contradictory in this instance, ultimately makes sense. Likewise, Liverpool beat poet Roger McGough made wonderful use of an oxymoron in his poem The Fallen Birdman; “People gathered round the mess, in masochistic tenderness”.
Therefore, if Rev Gibson is asserting that same-sex marriage is an oxymoron, he is essentially stating that it ultimately makes sense.
If I am wrong on this one, I am sure the lovely Clare Flourish whom I follow here on WordPress, and who is much more learned in the English language than I am, shall soon put me right.
There is “massive potential… …for the Named Person Scheme to be used as a means of interfering with the role of parents who seek to raise their children according to Christian values”?
The Named Person scheme is part of the SNP policy of Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC). It is part of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, which when going through the Scottish Parliament, had full support of almost every party, with only the Scottish Conservative Party (who are about as “Scottish” as a Wiltshire cricket pitch) opposing it. It has the full support of several children’s charities and Police Scotland, it is based on models from other countries and yet more countries are looking at GIRFEC and the Named Person scheme with views to emulating it.
GIRFEC recognises that every child is different and an individual and aims for them to achieve their best within their abilities, rather than treating all children as the same, and expecting them all to achieve the same standards. The Named Person scheme is not about interfering at all. Every child will have a Named Person within the education and / or social care systems whom the child or their parents can turn to in time of need. The Named Person equally shall be trained to look out for a child who is unhappy, failing, and how to help them, and the warning signs of abuse, and how to properly address that.
The only objectors to GIRFEC and the Named Person scheme are a tiny group of protesters, who are attempting to challenge it in court, and which is almost certain to fail.
I have to say, if Rev Gibson thinks that the Named Person scheme has the potential for interference in bringing up children, particularly in the Christian faith, then he must have a very dim view of Scotland’s educationalists and one can only wonder just how much contact he has had with Scottish teachers. It just so happens that through a job I was once in, I had quite a bit of contact with teachers in Scotland, and a surprisingly large number of them are in fact active Christians. Indeed, I find the number of Christian teachers quite disturbing and I would be more worried about them attempting to push their faith upon children irrespective of children’s wishes. These fears were realised a few years ago, when two head teachers at a South Lanarkshire primary school were dismissed after children had been presented with creationist literature at an after-school club ran by American evangelists.
If the Named Person scheme were such a worry to Scottish parents, then the tiny take up of the No To NP protest certainly does not bear that out. Likewise, the Scottish Tories have been extremely quiet about it in their campaign for the Scottish Parliamentary elections. The SNP won a majority government in the Scottish Parliament in 2011 – in a proportional representation voting system devised to make majority government ‘impossible’ – and are on track to win another majority government when Scotland goes to the polls on Thursday, 5 May, 2016. If Named Persons were really such a huge issue, then the Tories would be pushing that strongly, just about every parent in Scotland would be against it, and the SNP would be lucky to win a handful of seats. The fact that the same parents are fully intending to vote SNP tells it’s own story; that having been given the information about GIRFEC / Named Persons, they understand it, and they like it.
But then, in claiming he is not biased but given his strong opposition to Named Persons, Rev Gibson gives away that he is indeed biased, and given which party was the only one to oppose GIRFEC, it is obvious how he votes. He says it himself; “I for one have no burning desire to champion the cause of one party over the others within the church, nor to make out that one is worse than the others purely on the basis of some long held political bias.” Why even add that bit about bias unless he has one?
So what does Holy Wullie, sorry, Reverend Gibson, do? He effectively tells his congregation how to vote, stating that those “true believers need to think long and hard as to whether such a political party – one which seems intent on destroying any lasting imprint of God’s design – can honestly be supported in good conscience before our Creator.”
And goes further by calling the SNP “Satanic” and “evil”.
Want to see what a truly evil government is, Rev Gibson? It is one which tells severely disabled and terminally ill people that they are fit for work and takes benefits away from them. It is a government which seeking to make savings, goes after the poorest of the poor, while giving the obscenely rich tax breaks and incentives to make even more money. It is a government of one of the richest countries in the world which tells people who have paid into the system all their working lives that there’s no money in the pot for their pensions, and they’ll have to work for more years to come. It is a government which claims to be helping refugee children, taking only those from Syria, and turning a blind eye to the lone refugee children just across the English Channel, many of whom are at danger from trafficking and child prostitution. All that, and many other things visited upon the UK by the Tory Westminster government, are the epitome of evil.
And I personally think Rev Gibson is crediting his Wee Free parishoners with far too much intelligence; if they were at all capable of thinking long and hard, they would not be in the Free Kirk.
I am an atheist, and I am also a secularist; I believe in removing religion from politics and public life as much as possible. I fully recognise that everyone is entitled to an opinion, even the unco righteous like Reverend Gibson. I am also fully aware that for many Christians, including dear Clare Flourish, their faith is a main driving force in speaking out against all sorts of wrongs, and I admire their passion in that. The Society of Friends (Quakers), the Iona Community and St John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh are certainly no slouches at speaking out against social injustice. When any member of clergy tries to tell their congregation how to vote however, they cross the line from opinion to interference in politics, and that needs to be challenged wherever possible. I am fully aware that clergy pay taxes on their earnings, just like the rest of us, the churches as organisations however do not, and given that Reverend Gibson and his own Wee Free Moderator, Reverend David A Robertson, have both been very vocal recently about SNP policies on transgender and non-binary people, then I for one say it is time to remove tax exempt status from the Free Kirk.
As a footnote, given that Reverend Robertson has long stated his support for an independent Scotland, one wonders if he will pull Rev Gibson up for his attack upon the SNP? Given that Robertson recently published an “open letter” to Nicola Sturgeon, saying much the same as Gibson, I sincerely doubt it.
The full text of Reverend Gibson’s letter can be read here:
“Open letter” from Reverend David A Robertson, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, to Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland: