Religion in Scotland

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Religion in Scotland

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Church of Scotland
Roman Catholic Church
Associated Presbyterian Churches
Free Church of Scotland
Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland
Scottish Episcopal Church
Action of Churches Together in Scotland
Scottish Reformation
History of the Jews in Scotland

Scotland, like the other constituent countries of the United Kingdom, is traditionally a Christian state. The Church of Scotland, also known as The Kirk, is recognised in law (by the Church of Scotland Act 1921) as the national church in Scotland, but is not an established church and is independent of state control in matters spiritual. The other major faith is the Roman Catholic Church, which claims around 20 per cent of the population<ref>Cross and Livingstone (eds), "Scotland", p.1473</ref> and is especially important in West Central Scotland. In recent years other religions have established a presence in Scotland, mainly through immigration, though also partly through the attraction of converts. Those with the most adherents are Hinduism, Sikhism, and various forms of Islam (mainly among immigrants from southern Asia). Other minority faiths include Buddhism, the Baha'i Faith, and Rastafarianism. There are also small Neopagan groups, and various organisations which actively promote rationalism and secularism.


[edit] History

Early Pictish religion is presumed to have resembled Celtic polytheism in general. The date at which Pictish kings converted to Christianity is uncertain, but there are traditions which place Saint Palladius in Pictland after leaving Ireland, and link Abernethy with Saints Brigid and Darlugdach of Kildare.<ref>Clancy, "'Nennian recension'", pp. 95–96, Smyth, Warlords and Holy Men, pp. 82–83.</ref> Saint Patrick refers to "apostate Picts", while the poem Y Gododdin does not remark on the Picts as pagans.<ref>Markus, "Conversion to Christianity".</ref> Conversion of the Pictish élite seems likely to have run over a considerable period, beginning in the 5th century and not complete until the 7th. Recent archaeological work at Portmahomack places the foundation of the monastery there, an area once assumed to be among the last converted, in the late 6th century.<ref>Mentioned by Foster, but more information is available from the Tarbat Discovery Programme: see under External links.</ref> This is contemporary with Bridei mac Maelchon and Columba. The process of establishing Christianity throughout Pictland will have extended over a much longer period. Pictland was not solely influenced by Iona and Ireland. It also had ties to churches in England, as seen in the reign of Nechtan mac Der Ilei. The reported expulsion of Ionan monks and clergy by Nechtan in 717 may have been related to the controversy over the dating of Easter, and the manner of tonsure, where Nechtan appears to have supported the Roman usages, but may equally have been intended to increase royal power over the church.<ref>Bede, IV, cc. 21–22, Clancy, "Church institutions", Clancy, "Nechtan".</ref> Nonetheless, the evidence of place names suggests a wide area of Ionan influence in Pictland.<ref>Taylor, "Iona abbots".</ref> Likewise, the Cáin Adomnáin (Law of Adomnán, Lex Innocentium) counts Nechtan's brother Bridei among its guarantors.

The importance of monastic centres in Pictland was not perhaps as great as in Ireland. In areas which had been studied, such as Strathspey and Perthshire, it appears that the parochial structure of the High Middle Ages existed in early medieval times. Among the major religious sites of eastern Pictland were Portmahomack, Cennrígmonaid (later St Andrews), Dunkeld, Abernethy and Rosemarkie. It appears that these are associated with Pictish kings, which argues for a considerable degree of royal patronage and control of the church.<ref>Clancy, "Church institutions", Markus, "Religious life".</ref>

The cult of Saints was, as throughout Christian lands, of great importance in later Pictland. While kings might patronise great Saints, such as Saint Peter in the case of Nechtan, and perhaps Saint Andrew in the case of the second Óengus mac Fergusa, many lesser Saints, some now obscure, were important. The Pictish Saint Drostan appears to have had a wide following in the north in earlier times, although all but forgotten by the 12th century. Saint Serf of Culross was associated with Nechtan's brother Bridei. <ref>Clancy, "Cult of Saints", Clancy, "Nechtan", Taylor, "Iona abbots"</ref> It appears, as is well known in later times, that noble kin groups had their own patron saints, and their own churches or abbeys.<ref>Markus, "Religious life".</ref>

[edit] Christianity

Christianity probably came to Scotland around the second century, and was firmly established by the sixth and seventh centuries. However, until the eleventh century, the relationship between the Church in Scotland and the Papacy is ambigious. The Scottish 'Celtic' Church had marked liturgical and ecclesiological differences from the rest of Western Christendom. Some of these were resolved at the end of the seventh century following the Synod of Whitby and St Columba's withdrawal to Iona, however, it was not until the ecclessiastical reforms of the eleventh century that the Scottish Church became an integral part of the Roman communion.

That remained the picture until the Scottish Reformation was initiated in 1560 by John Knox, who was a Calvinist and the Church in Scotland broke with the papacy, and adopted a Calvinist confession. At that point the celebration of the Roman Mass was outlawed. When Mary Queen of Scots returned from France to rule, she found herself as a Roman Catholic in a largely Protestant state and Protestant court. For more information on the history of the Reformation in Scotland, see also Scottish Reformation, John Knox, Jenny Geddes, Book of Common Order, and Bishops' Wars

[edit] Christianity

The Church of Scotland, also known as The Kirk, is recognised in law (by the Church of Scotland Act 1921) as the national church in Scotland, but is not an established church and is independent of state control in matters spiritual. The Church of Scotland is a Reformed church, with a Presbyterian system of ecclesiastical polity as determined in 1690. Prior to this date, Episcopalian and Presbyterian parties vied for control of the church. Throughout the 18th century, the Church of Scotland maintained its reformed theology and kept a tight control over the morality of much of the population. The Kirk had a significant influence on the cultural development of Scotland in early modern times.

Although the the Queen is an ordinary member of the Church of Scotland, she is represented at the General Assembly by her Lord High Commissioner.

Following political turmoil in 1688 and 1689 (see Glorious Revolution) those adhering to an Episcopal form of church government left or were expelled from Church of Scotland congregations, leading to the formation of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which now forms part of the Anglican Communion

Divisions within Presbyterianism (see Disruption of 1843) in Scotland led to the setting up of other denominations including the Free Church of Scotland, an off-shoot from the Church of Scotland adhering to a more conservative style of Calvinism.

Other denominations in Scotland include the Methodists, the Congregationalists, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The second largest church in Scotland in terms of membership is the Roman Catholic Church which survived the Reformation, especially on islands like Uist and Barra, despite the suppression of the 16th to the late 18th centuries. Roman Catholicism in Scotland was strengthened particularly in the west of Scotland during the 19th century by immigration from Ireland. This continued for much of the 20th century, during which significant numbers of Catholics from Italy and Poland also migrated to Scotland. Much of Scotland (particularly the West Central Belt around Glasgow) has experienced problems caused by sectarianism, particularly football rivalry between the traditionally Roman Catholic team, Celtic, and the traditionally Protestant team, Rangers.

[edit] Monasticism

Ancient monasticism in the British Isles spread Christianity to the furthest parts of the archipelago, but the Reformation led to the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Catholic monastic communities have since been re-established, and there are also many Anglican communities, and some Orthodox ones. Religious communities of Hindus and Buddhists also exist.

[edit] Other faiths

Islam is the largest non-Christian religion in Scotland (estimated population, 50,000) despite accounting for less than 1% of the population.<ref name="GROSCOT">General Register Office for Scotland 2001 Census analysis</ref> T

According to the 2001 census, approximately 6,400 practicing Jews live in Scotland, most of whom are centralised in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and to a lesser extent Dundee. Scotland's Jewish population continues to be predominantly urban. Despite the small numbers, Judaism in Scotland has a long history. While England during the Middle Ages had state persecution of the Jews, culminating in the expulsion of 1290 (it has been suggested that Jews may have arrived in Scotland after this date)[citation needed], there was never a corresponding expulsion from Scotland. Evidence of Jews in medieval Scotland is fairly scanty, but in 1190, the Bishop of Glasgow forbade churchmen to "ledge their benefices for money borrowed from Jews". [1] This was around the time of the Anti-Jewish riots in England so it is possible Jewish refugees lived in Scotland for a brief time, or it may refer to English Jews' interests in Scotland. Like many Christian nations, medieval Scots believed themselves to have a Biblical connection. The Declaration of Arbroath (6 April, 1320), which was sent as an appeal to Pope John XXII, confirmed Scotland's status as an independent, sovereign state and asserted its right to use military action when considered unjustly attacked. It was sealed by fifty-one magnates and nobles. It is still periodically referenced by British Israelitists. The text asserts that in the eyes of God:

cum non sit Pondus nec distinccio Judei et Greci, Scoti aut Anglici
("there is neither bias nor difference between Jew or Greek, Scot or English")

The majority of Jewish immigration appears to have occurred post-industrialisation, and post-1707, meaning that Jews in Scotland were subject to various anti-Jewish British laws. Scotland was under the jurisdiction of the Jew Bill, enacted in 1753, but repealed the next year.

The Stone of Destiny (Lia Fáil) is also supposed to be the pillow stone said to have been used by the Biblical Jacob. In 1297 the Stone was captured by Edward I as spoils of war and taken from Scone to Westminster Abbey, where it was fitted into the old wooden chair, known as St. Edward's Chair, on which English sovereigns were crowned.

Scotland has a relatively high proportion of persons, 28% of the population, who regard themselves as belonging to 'no religion'. Indeed, this was the second most common response in the 2001 census.<ref name="GROSCOT"/>

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 that place more emphasis on occult practices (such as Wicca and Ceremonial magic) tend to fear persecution and practice more discreetly.

[edit] Religious leaders

[edit] Statistics

Religion/DenominationCurrent religion%geReligion of upbringing%ge
Church of Scotland2,146,25142.42,392,60147.3
No Religion1,394,46027.5887,22117.5
Roman Catholic803,73215.9859,50317.5
Other Christian344,5626.8424,2218.4
Religion not stated278,0615.5422,8628.4
Other Religion26,9740.58,4470.2

Source: UK 2001 census General Register Office for Scotland, The Registrar General's 2001 Census Report to the Scottish Parliament (Excel). See also Analysis of Religion in the 2001 Census: Summary Report

[edit] Notes and references


[edit] References

  • Clancy, Thomas Owen, "Church institutions: early medieval" in Lynch (2001).
  • Clancy, Thomas Owen, "Scotland, the 'Nennian' Recension of the Historia Brittonum and the Libor Bretnach in Simon Taylor (ed.), Kings, clerics and chronicles in Scotland 500–1297. Fourt Courts, Dublin, 2000. ISBN 1-85182-516-9
  • Clancy, Thomas Owen, "Nechtan son of Derile" in Lynch (2001).
  • Clancy, Thomas Owen, "Columba, Adomnán and th 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
  • Foster, Sally M., Picts, Gaels, and Scots: Early Historic Scotland. Batsford, London, 2004. ISBN 0-7134-8874-3
  • Markus, Fr. Gilbert, O.P., "Religious life: early medieval" in Lynch (2001).
  • Markus, Fr. Gilbert, O.P., "Conversion to Christianity" in Lynch (2001).
  • Taylor, Simon, "Seventh-century Iona abbots in Scottish place-names" in Broun & Clancy (1999).

[edit] External links

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