Kate Forbes MSP is answering questions about her Christian beliefs with clarity and integrity. The attacks on her from other politicians and parts of the media are unjust, says Graham Nicholls.
I’m not Scottish, and I’m also not in favour of Scottish independence. So I’m utterly unqualified to comment on the leadership contest for the Scottish National Party (SNP). But something perhaps unsurprising and yet deeply saddening is happening in Scottish politics that has implications for all of us.
Kate Forbes is one of the candidates for leader of the SNP and First Minister. By all accounts she is highly competent and a great character. She is relatively young, articulate and enthusiastic. A rising star in the party and the parliament. She ought to be one of the front runners in the race to become the next leader. She was, but now it seems she is not.
After a series of media interviews, it appears that her chances of being successful have been fatally damaged because of her culturally ‘unorthodox’ views on marriage and gender.
this is a sad and sobering milestone to pass, that ordinary Christians are considered not fit to govern
When questioned, she dared to say that in principle she disagrees with gay marriage and had she been an MSP at the time she would’ve voted against it. She was also opposed to the gender recognition act. And then in what the Daily Mail described as a "spectacular meltdown", Forbes said sex is for marriage. To make matters even worse, she could face an internal SNP disciplinary probe after telling ITV: "I believe that a trans woman is a biological male who identifies as a woman." She was also reported as having prayed against abortion at least once.
To our modern-day Spanish inquisition, with a religion of intolerance of the wrong kind of faith, she is a heretic, bang to rights.
Kate belongs to what the media is calling a strict evangelical denomination, the Free Church of Scotland. I would call the FCoS an orthodox Bible teaching denomination, they were a founding member of Affinity and continue to be active and influential members.
I’ve been inspired and roused by Ms Forbes for being so clear and open with her views.
Now there is the brutal politics of it – that political opponents will use any means to put down their opponent – but this goes beyond politics.
Are Christians not fit to govern?
There are a few non-Christian voices speaking up in her favour, defending her rights to hold and express her views, but most people seem to accept that it’s inevitable her support within the party will fall away. The essential message is that someone with views like hers should not be allowed to lead a party and especially not a country. This means that a normal regular Christian should not expect to be allowed to lead Scotland.
If you’re reading this and you’re not in Scotland you may think this doesn’t affect you but it’s really not a stretch to say that this probably applies to the rest of the United Kingdom. You might never have thought there would be a Christian Prime Minister because there hasn’t been one in living memory but nonetheless, this is a sad and sobering milestone to pass, that ordinary Christians are considered not fit to govern.
As Affinity, we have no position on the policies of Kate Forbes, or her suitability as a party leader, but we are fully in support of her speaking openly and clearly about her faith. She is a great example to all Christians in public life by not compromising for the sake of political expediency. I encourage you to pray for our sister as she receives a lot of pressure to cave in and abandon her convictions to gain power.
Stand on biblical truth
We stand with the Free Church of Scotland as they uphold biblical teaching on marriage, sexuality, gender and the right to life.
We are deeply saddened that expressing legitimate and long-held Christian teaching on sexuality and the right to life could potentially prohibit someone from leading a political party. We do not think this is good for the country or for democracy and freedom of thought and religion to exclude the views of a large section of the present population and part of our history and culture.
As Christians, "we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair…" (2 Corinthians 4:8) This is the normal Christian life – blessing, conversions but also opposition. We realise that we are living in times very similar to the New Testament when those who would not worship the gods of Rome suffered exclusion from civic life, and gladly suffered for the name of Christ. As Paul writes, "for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)