We are, of course, currently living through the run up to a vote to determine whether Scotland will remain within the United Kingdom or breakaway to form a new country.
I’ve just read the silliest and most foolish thing that I’ve ever read about Independence, published this morning in the Huffington Post.
Love America and its people though I do, I would have to say that not all of its citizens are terribly knowledgeable about other parts of the world. Very many Europeans have stories to tell of the ignorance of Americans abroad, such as the ones I met who conversed with me for half an hour in a train in France before asking me what language we speak in Scotland. (They thought it was “garlic”). When I was travelling over there recently, the kind of people I was staying with were the kind of Americans who do know a bit about the world and even they were embarrassed by the things some of their fellow citizens say.
This article in the HuffPo today tries to align progressive Christianity with Scottish Nationalism. Indeed, the headline describes this alignment as a perfect fit.
The “struggle” for independence is compared to standing in solidarity with the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, the end of apartheid and the attempt to end genocide in Darfur.
Now, I may think that the argument for Scottish Independence tends towards the fanciful sometimes but there’s no-one I know who is in that camp who would make such silly claims.
If Scotland becomes independent it is very possible that we will witness the birth of a Western democracy in which national security is achieved through education rather than by military prowess and in which the wealth of a nation is tied to the well-being of ordinary people rather than upon the solvency of financial institutions. And who among Progressive Mainline Protestants cannot support such ideals as these?
The author of this seems to have stumbled upon the SNP website and believed every word as gospel truth. He is a Presbyterian minister in California. He works at Foothill Presbyterian Church and my facebook feed is filling up with folk who think they’ve got an unusually ignorant minister, even for America.
He goes on to make a comparison between the place of Scotland in the UK to that of Tibet in relation to China. (His argument is that if “progressive” Americans don’t speak out about Scotland then they should keep quiet about Tibet).
All I can say is that the tanks are not rolling by on Great Western Road.
Scotland faces a great deal of uncertainty over this referendum. I fall into the majority of people living here who are not persuaded that Independence would be a good thing.
Just read that last sentence again if you don’t live in Scotland – yes, a majority of people who live here don’t want (or are at least not yet persuaded) that Scotland should go it alone.
There are arguments for and against Independence. It is a conversation that we need to have here. It is a matter that needs to be settled. However, there is no getting away at the moment from the fact that the majority of people here don’t want it. That may change but it does rather puncture the idea that Scotland is an oppressed minority in which mainstream religious people will automatically fight for the right to a separate future.
Scotland clearly could become Independent. The question is whether it should.
I’m not persuaded that it should at this time. That’s partly because I care about Scotland and am simply not persuaded that the bucolic future outlined by the Scottish National Party on their website would be likely to come to pass. Another reason I’m unpersuaded is that I care about the rest of the UK and wouldn’t like to condemn it to Conservative party rule for generations. (Without Scottish MPs the House of Commons would tilt even further to the right and what we’ve seen recently is more than enough to make us fear the outcome of that).
No doubt there are some who having seen the effects of Tory rule think that the answer is for Scotland to break away. I don’t think that. I think the response to poor government is to change the government not change the constitutional settlement of these islands.
The idea of Americans trying to align that with religion is chilling. The money that poured in from the USA to fund Irish terrorism should remind us of how little some folk understand about how to keep the peace.
Oh, and by the way, the argument that Christians must necessarily support independence for Scotland has nothing to do with Tibet. It is more like the idea that Christians should support the attempts to free Texas from the hegemony of the rest of the USA. There’s a minority of religious republicans think that’s a good idea after all.
Fortunately there’s a solid majority of people who think they are nuts.