2007 - 2022

Talking about anti-Catholicism in Scotland: Part Two

Pat Anderson, Up to Our Knees: Anti-Catholic Bigotry in Scotland, Snowy Publications.

Scotland’s sectarian divide has similarities to Northern Ireland’s. Indeed some argue that it is remarkable that Northern Ireland’s ‘troubles’ were not really replicated here. But the violence in N.I. was never primarily religious in nature. In all of Western Europe, interest in traditional organised religion has been in steep decline for decades. ‘The troubles’ were not a religious conflict, but a political one, about power and control. The fact that those struggling for a united Ireland were mainly Catholic, while those struggling to maintain British control over Northern Ireland were mainly Protestant, is certainly a feature of the conflict, but the IRA waged a war for a united Ireland, not for Catholicism, and Loyalist terrorist groups were loyal to Westminster, not Calvin. 

The same situation just does not obtain in Scotland. That is why, with some horrendous exceptions (the savage murder of 16-year-old Celtic fan Mark Scott in 1995 being one) Scottish sectarian violence largely consisted of, and consists of, bottles being thrown at football matches and not bombs going off in shopping centres and pubs. There was no political objective pressing enough to legitimise (in some eyes) that level of violence, and the vast majority of people are satisfied to express their tribalism by insults and songs that mock and abuse the other. Pat Anderson, however, argues that anti-Catholicism in Scotland is a virulent problem.

Anti-Catholicism and anti-Irishness 

Anderson acknowledges that it can be difficult to distinguish anti-Catholicism from anti-Irishness, but concludes that Scottish bigotry is essentially anti-Catholic rather than anti-Irish. The two keep converging though. He too struggles to keep them separate. The book’s title talks of ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’, but the cover illustration is a deeply offensive caricature of an Irishman. It looks like Irishness that is being mocked and demonised, not Catholicism, though in the eyes of the bigots the two appear to be indistinguishable. Be they Fenians, taigs, bog-wogs, micks, bead rattlers, bog trotters, or soap dodgers, they are feckless scroungers and incomers who take our charity and still complain.

Anderson finds the origins of these attitudes in the work of Max Weber, who argued in his 1905 magnum opus The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism that it was Calvinism that led to industrialisation and indeed modern civilisation. The idea that Catholics are lazy and feckless is surprisingly persistent, though Anderson mischievously points out that High Anglican quasi-Catholic England was much more economically successful than radically Calvinist Scotland, and the enormous wealth of the USA was built not on the industry and diligence of the Founding Fathers, as is commonly suggested, but on slavery.  It is not hard to see the parallels with how successive waves of immigrants have been viewed, be they Asian, African, East European or Roma.  

Anderson is particularly exercised by revisionist historians, who question the accepted narrative that Ireland and Irish people were adversely affected by first English, and later British, intervention. They go so far as to claim that imperialism was essentially a positive experience for the poor benighted natives. One such historian, Liam Kennedy, Professor of Economic History at Queen’s University Belfast, has coined the term MOPE – the ‘most oppressed people ever‘ – in an attempt to belittle and mock those who argue that Ireland’s experience of colonialism was one of dispossession and oppression.

Anderson is on to something here – there is a new bullishness around such views, and right-wing conservatives now dare to say out loud what they have always believed – that Britain has apologised for too long for having an Empire, and we need to get back to proudly proclaiming the benefits of subjugation to the Crown. To a Scot, such opinions feel eerily familiar, witness Stuart McQuarrie’s comments. The Irish should, apparently, be thankful that England deigned to drag them out of the darkness of their ignorance and indolence.

My Own Story

Not being a historian, I do not feel qualified to assess the validity of Anderson’s arguments. Individual, personal experience, however, should not necessarily be discounted, so, at that level, I feel well qualified to discuss the sectarian tensions that continue to simmer under the surface of Scottish life. It has lurked in the background of my life from the very start.

A few highlights might establish that I have some skin (or rather, skins) in this game. My dad, Davie, came from staunch Glasgow Protestant stock, some of whom might even have been what I have heard referred to as ‘bitter Orange’. He did not endear himself to the boys at the Ludge when he met and fell for my mum, Sadie, a Catholic girl from County Donegal. He was, predictably, shunned by his family, none of whom attended his wedding in the chapel in the Gorbals. (Interestingly, he appears to have been welcomed with open arms into her Irish Catholic family, even as an ex-member of the British Army.) It was only when unto them a child was born, yours truly, that some of the Protestant relations began to thaw, even if they were only curious to see what the child of such an unholy union might look like.

Yet thaw they did. Thankfully, I remember fondly some aunts and uncles from ‘his side’. Good old human and family love eventually chipped away at the sectarian walls, as it will if given half a chance (Paisley and McGuinness as the Chuckle Brothers) and I don’t remember it being an issue in the family as we grew up. On the street, yes, but in the family, we heard only occasional faint echoes.

For some reason mum and dad decided they should live in Bridgeton, presumably because their lives in Glasgow in 1959 weren’t already hard enough.  I spent the first seven years of my life in what dear old Uncle Harry described as ‘a smashin’ big single-end’ in Bridgeton, perhaps the most explicitly Protestant community in the city, epicentre of Glasgow Loyalism, and home of the Brigton Derry.  My dad opened the door one night holding baby John in his arms, to find an irate local gentleman standing there, who, without so much as a how d’you do, punched him in the face, knocking him flat on his back into the loaby. Luckily, I cushioned his fall, and family legend has it that this incident left me with the stammer that dogged much of my life.

I do know that by the time I was five or six, lines had been drawn, and I was out in the back court middens fiercely singing ‘Proddy dogs, eat the frogs, two for tuppence ha’penny’, I have no idea where I learned that. I had already been indoctrinated into ‘othering’ Protestants, but creating an identity for yourself in that setting does seem to have involved establishing who you were definitely not. Maybe it always does. Anyway, being not a Protestant was only one of the various identities I embraced. As a good French St. kid I was also keen on othering the poor buggers who had the misfortune to live in neighbouring Poplin St. I remember lines of us charging each other across the waste ground, intent on administering a right good othering to the other side.

I soon got the chance to experience Scottish sectarianism outside Glasgow. In 1967, when I was a P2 pupil at the Sacred Heart Primary in Dalmarnock, my dad was offered a job in ‘the pit’, and we made what felt like the epic 37 mile two hour bus journey down to the rural idyll that was the Ayrshire mining town of Cumnock, where I lived till I made the reverse journey back to university ten years later. At first, Cumnock felt like a rural idyll. We had a garden, and there were fields, woods and rivers. 

Now, I have many happy memories of Cumnock, but also some not so happy.  We lived in a new housing scheme, which was being added to and expanded for many years after we arrived. There was a broader social mix there than exists in council schemes now – you had teachers and everything living beside you. We were in most ways indistinguishable from our new neighbours, but we were also different to most of them, and at some level that difference mattered.

No-one was ever in any doubt which side of the line they were on. We had our own institutions – St. John’s Chapel, and St. Conval’s school – and they had theirs: Greenmill Primary, Cumnock Academy and the various churches dotted here and there. However, as far as I’m aware, just as in the 16th century, we were largely left alone to get on with it. Though the same principle applied – being a Catholic was allowed, but not aloud. We were circumspect about it. Occasional reminders of an underlying tension were given. I remember one night when the Catholic men had to stand guard outside the chapel overnight to protect the newly-built wall being built round the grounds – it had been kicked over before by drunken Protestants on their way home from the pub.

Now, looking back through my socialist telescope’s eye, our fellow Cumnockians are salt-of-the-down-to-Earth working-class folk struggling to come to terms with the ravages of post-industrial decline, Thatcher and pit closures. But when my school pals and I would meet the offspring of these self-same working class heroes, we became something called ‘Papish bastards’. We were regularly reminded that we ‘bred like rabbits’, and I was called a Fenian so often I thought it was my middle name.  After some IRA outrage in the 70s, I overheard two men in a clothes shop fitting-room talking about how ‘we’re just no’ quite as bad as they are’ and I knew we were the they. I have never forgotten that. However, casual insults were never the whole picture.

Life for a Catholic boy in Cumnock in the 1970s was a bit of a curate’s egg – many of the boys I played football with every night till darkness fell were not Catholics, and we were all great pals. I look back on the place very fondly now. Yes, there were Catholics and there were Protestants, and there was offensive name-calling and stereotyping. But I don’t think I was beaten up that often because of my religion. The real question for me is whether this childhood stuff was the younger sibling of something a bit more sinister.

Did Cumnock Catholic adults experience structural and institutional discrimination in terms of, for example, housing and employment, as they did so blatantly in Northern Ireland? Were my parents treated equitably and fairly – that is surely more important. And. as far as I’m aware, they were. Neither of them experienced any real discrimination in Cumnock. My dad held several jobs down there, in various settings, while my Irish speaking mother worked in the BATA shoe factory and became a popular figure with the rest of the women there, much mourned by them when she died at the tragically young age of 46.

Again, actual human contact with the other side makes it hard to hold on your stereotypical views of them. Now, I was a child, and my parents are long dead, but it does seem that, excepting all but the most committed zealots, our religion was no barrier to friendships and co-existence. This comes with the usual caveat – Mum and Dad never paraded around the shopping precinct singing ‘Faith of Our Fathers’ while celebrating her heritage by waving an Irish tricolour. They knew better. Minorities are generally tolerated, as long as they keep the noise, and their heads, down, sometimes in ghettoes, sometimes in private halls.

Is this really about religion?

Anderson makes the point that sectarianism is not really about religion. Most anti-Catholic bigots have no allegiance to any church, and have little interest in salvation by faith alone, or the pros and cons of pre-destination, though they can get very exercised by transubstantiation (‘They worship a buscuit’, as that nice Chuckle Brother Ian Paisley once memorably thundered – did he ever do anything else?). Anti-Catholicism is not a defence of actual beliefs, it is really just a good old-fashioned attack on the other, the stranger, the different.

Anderson deploys some diverse pieces of evidence in support of his thesis, some of them more convincing than others. He compares the treatment by Scottish judges of two sets of would-be ‘bombers’. In the first case, two men sent explosive devices through the post to Neil Lennon. The judge said the men believed the devices to be ‘capable of exploding and causing injury’. Rather puzzlingly, he went on to say that it was ‘obvious’ that he was not dealing with ‘acts of terrorism’. The men got five years each. In another case, three men plotted to kill ‘UDA kingpin’ Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair. They were convicted of terrorism charges and the leader, Antoin Duffy, went down for seventeen years. Anderson describes Duffy as ‘a fantasist’ who was addicted to Tramadol and who rather pathetically asked around the Brazen Head pub in the Gorbals if anyone could supply him with a gun. He was portrayed as a ‘brazen terrorist’, while the would-be bombers of Lennon and his family were portrayed as ‘ridiculous, irrational clowns’.

The differing media presentations of Celtic’s Anthony Stokes and Rangers’ Andy Goram is also pointed out. Goram openly associated with Ulster Loyalists but was never challenged about this, and there was no media pressure for Rangers to condemn him. He was a harmless, larger-than-life ‘character’ – ‘The Goalie’. When Anthony Stokes attended the funeral of his friend Alan Ryan, a member of the Real IRA, he was publicly castigated by Celtic and punished for bringing the club into disrepute. Yet, Anderson claims, the media was not satisfied and demanded he be sacked immediately. How are we to account for this difference in approach?

The question of the extent to which anti-Catholicism exists in Scotland is a complex and multi-faceted one that changes when viewed from different angles. Clearly, during my lifetime and before, there has been a lot of tribalism and naked hatred, leading to frequent verbal abuse and not infrequent violence. The numbers involved in this, however, represent a small proportion of the Scottish population.

The real question is, and this is one that Anderson does not pursue particularly vigorously, is whether such sectarian views translate into systematic and institutionalised discrimination, in education, employment, and before the law. It will be interesting to see whether Scottish sectarianism gradually fades away as people become even less interested in religious affiliations.

The other, more frightening, alternative is a future where, in the wake of Brexit and the UK government’s relentless promotion of xenophobia and glorification of all things imperial and British, such attitudes become increasingly normalised. It is easy to be hypnotised and horrified by an Ibrox Stadium reverberating to the Billy Boys. But most people in Scotland have little desire to be up to their knees in anybody’s blood, Fenian or otherwise.

Comments (23)

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  1. SleepingDog says:

    Interfaith and intersect marriage rates are useful indicators of the health of secular societies.

    But in this short series, I find a similar pattern to the ‘anti-Semitism deliberately confused with rational criticisms of Israeli policy and practice and extreme Judaism’ we have seen elsewhere.

    I hypothesise that religious indocrination in planetary-unrealistic ideologies from early ages can have profound negative cognitive and health impacts on a child’s psychological development (based partly on my formal studies some developmental psychology). For example, the Christian notion of hell can be terrifying for children (perhaps some Protestant sects are most keen on fire and brimstone), not just for themselves and family members, but the idea that their non-denominational classmates might burn in eternal torment just because). And if you study philosophy you may from time to time run into various forms of religious sophistry like Jesuit casuitry. However, I also agree that this applies to Empire-worship and royalism. In practice, this may mean that Protestant critiques of Catholicism, and Catholic critiques of Protestantism, may both skirt about large areas where both are wrong. And both may close ranks in the face of perceived external threats. That applies upscale to organised religions against forms of areligiosity too.

    So the series leaves us with no path to consider, for example, what harm separate Catholic education can cause, which is a political choice. We also don’t hear the voices of apostasy, of lapsed Catholics, of whistleblowers, of out-converts. As a picture, it is partial and unsatisfactory and highly anecdotal.

    1. John+McIntosh says:

      Hi Sleeping (can I call you Sleeping?) Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Agree with all your closing adjectives. A partial picture? Yep. An unsatisfactory picture? Of course. (Mind you, I can’t imagine what a picture that was satisfactory to everyone would look like). Anecdotal? See unsatisfactory. But I love anecdotes.. And anecdotal is only a criticism if it is used next to ‘evidence’ – here I am presenting no evidence , because I am not arguing a case. I am describing my own experience and wondering aloud what it all might mean. And I’m not sure where the ‘other voices’ you list might be heard . Maybe they write about their own experiences somewhere? And anyway – how do you know I’m not an apostate myself? Seriously though, this piece says nothing at all about the relative merits and demerits of religion. That was not the subject matter.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @John+McIntosh, OK, cheers for that, although ‘relative’ demerits does not seem to quite fit what I consider rational critiques, whether of organised religion in general, or those specific aspects of Catholicism which can be considered problematic (including sometimes by Catholics themselves). Perhaps you could have led with what you wished to exclude from a discussion of anti-Catholicism, which I take from your pieces to be restricted in your mind to irrational bigotry and/or obsolete stereotypes. I had hoped that some light would have been shone on that paragraph from the book’s back cover talking about poverty, serious health problems and prison, which are at least amenable to empirical investigation.

  2. Hugh McShane says:

    James MacMillan& Andrew O’Hagen seem to have had v.similar Ayrshire experiences- Sticking to football, the inconceivability of a Rangers-free Scotland 10 years ago, was evidence enough of a perceived need by both SFA+other bodies,(and politicians),to have a focal point for what old RFC was meant to represent- as if this was a necessary societal safety valve somehow. An opportunity missed.

  3. florian albert says:

    In the past forty years, a considerable amount has been written about Anti-Catholicism in Scotland by historians and sociologists. The best known are Professors
    Tom Devine, Steve Bruce, David McCrone and Tom Gallagher.
    Tom Devine and Steve Bruce have both concluded that institutional discrimination has disappeared. From my own experience, and that of Catholics I know, I would take some convincing that it is a ‘virulent problem’ as Pat Anderson claims.

    The subject of Anti-Catholicism in Scotland is contentious enough on its own without bringing Brexit, or the revisionist debate among Irish historians, into the equation.

  4. Alice says:

    There is the not inconsiderable matter of the Orange Order marches which appear to be accepted as a normal event. Today the drums were beating loudly as these people passed my home…..they are adamant they have the right to march in the public Highway preferably near a Catholic Church or school…..their applications to march are rarely challenged and thus their hatred of Catholic institutions and folk therein continues unabated and unchallenged.

    There needs to be an enquiry as to the legitimacy of these marches with full explanations required from the Orange Order as to their motives behind the drum beating.

    1. 220529 says:

      They’re at liberty to protest their ‘faith’ (in the broadest sense) as much as anyone else in a free society. However, you could challenge this liberty in court, on the grounds of the harm those protests do to others, in event of which harm the state would be justified in removing that liberty from them; though the onus would be on you to prove that harm beyond reasonable doubt.

  5. 220529 says:

    Is it significant that the cover illustration of Pat’s book is taken from a cartoon by the 19th century American caricaturist, Thomas Nash, who gave the Democrats their donkey, the Republicans their elephant, and us our Santa Claus?

    His later work focused on the exposure and subversion of political corruption. The cartoon in question depicts William Magear (‘Boss’) Tweed delivering the ‘slaughtered goose’ of the Democratic Party on a plate to the Catholic Church, with New York’s ‘golden eggs’ stacked in the background. Nash routinely depicted Tweed as a ‘brute’.

    And Tweed was a ‘brute’, an axe-wielding strike-breaker who became the political ‘boss’ of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party’s political machine that played a major role in the politics of 19th-century New York City and state. At the height of his influence, Tweed was the third-largest landowner in New York City, a director of the Erie Railroad, a director of the Tenth National Bank, a director of the New-York Printing Company, the proprietor of the Metropolitan Hotel, a significant stockholder in iron mines and gas companies, a board member of the Harlem Gas Light Company, a board member of the Third Avenue Railway Company, a board member of the Brooklyn Bridge Company, and the president of the Guardian Savings Bank. A powerful magnate, in other words. His political power came from being an appointed member of a number of boards and commissions, his control over political patronage in New York City through Tammany, and his ability to ensure the loyalty of voters through jobs he could create and dispense on city-related projects. He used that power to promote the influence of the Catholic Church over public policy in the city in return for its endorsement of Tweed among its congregations.

    The cartoon in question upset Tweed so much that he offered Nast a bribe of $500,000 (100 times Nast’s annual salary at Harper’s Weekly at the time) to leave town. Nast refused and continued to draw attention to Tweed’s misdeeds, and helped to eventually remove ‘Boss’ Tweed from power.

    Why does Pat manipulates this image in the way he does?

    1. 220530 says:

      Indeed, there’s a lot in Catholicism to be ‘anti’ about.

      But there’s a difference between being anti-Catholicism and anti-Catholic. I (for example) disagree with most of the teachings of the community that is the Catholic Church (‘Catholicism’), especially its moral teachings and its moralism generally, and reserve the right to criticise those teachings and to resist their tyranny; but I simultaneously respect the right of those who comprise that community (‘Catholics’) to identify or define themselves by that teaching and its practice and to do so at liberty.

  6. J Galt says:

    Excellent article/review.

    As a child of the 60s and of a “mixed marriage” I can relate to much of what you write

    The Rothesay that I grew up in was in many ways a gentler environment than Bridgeton or Cumnock, however I had no catholic pals until I joined the cubs – one night of the Boy’s Brigade had been enough for me! The cubs were “mixed” unlike the BBs.

    Can things change?

    Working in south Glasgow – indeed within a stone’s throw of Ibrox – I doubt it.

  7. clarkleblanc says:

    The stories of the Muslims have remained unchanged for decades.

    1. adrian rudak says:

      Well , progress requires changes , there is bo progress without it

  8. Gerry Hassan says:

    A fascinating discussion with lots of points that need aired as well as lots of difficult and IMHO problematic observations. But this subject needs to be brought into the open – like many others in Scotland.

    Two brief points.

    1. Tom Devine and Steve Bruce cannot just be cited unchallenged as cannons on this subject. They both say “institutional discrimination” has disappeared. But they go much further claiming that any attitudinal issues and legacies have also largely disappeared. This latter point is worthy of investigation and challenge: Devine having done a 180 degree somersault on his previous views where he believed there were still attitudinal issues and took exception to the Bruce et al structural line.

    2. Quick call out to Pat Anderson – and his industrious commitment to write and publish on a variety of subjects in recent times. Two dozen books; DIY publishing; giving them away free as ebooks to people who cannot afford them. That commitment to public debate & open commons has to be applauded.

    1. 220601 says:

      I’d agree with Bruce and Devine that the structural issues have all but disappeared, inasmuch as few of our civic institutions (if any) still exclude people who identify as Catholic on the basis of that identification.

      But it’s hard to agree with Devine that there’s no longer any attitudinal or ‘moral’ issue. There are still a lot of bigots out there who remain viscerally attached to beliefs and factional loyalties that are antagonistic towards those who so identify.

      I’d also agree with Bruce’s ‘structural line’ insofar as we can change our civic institutions to make them less exclusive of ‘others’ and less tolerant of bigotry, whereas we can’t change the ‘gut feelings’ that shape the attitude of bigots towards those who identify differently from them.

    2. florian albert says:

      I do not think that anyone is suggesting that Tom Devine or Steve Bruce is beyond challenge on this or any other topic. However, I would say that they speak with more authority than – say – Kevin McKenna.

      Tom Devine’s role is instructive. He is nearly universally viewed as Scotland’s leading historian. He is a member of the group who are , according to Pat Anderson, the victims. He has played a significant part in our understanding of its historical dimension; eg by demonstrating that income parity for Irish immigrants to the USA was achieved almost a century before the same thing happened in Scotland and that anti-Catholicism actually increased in Scotland in the post World War I era – seventy years after Irish immigrants became an important group in Scottish society.
      Despite this, he has concluded that anti-Catholicism is a marginal problem in Scotland today.

      Gerry Hassan says that the problem needs to be ‘brought into the open.’ It was brought into the open over 20 years ago. Today, there are more pressing issues to deal with.

      1. 220601 says:

        There’s no more ‘pressing issue’ than equality and social justice.

        If people who identify as ‘Catholic’ are disadvantaged in their life chances by the establishment (i.e. by the current matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised in Scottish society) on the basis of their Catholicism, then that injustice needs to be ‘brought into the open’ and challenged.

        Sir Tom Devine’s lived experience might tell him that anti-Catholic sectarianism is only a marginal problem nowadays. Is that the experience of everyone who identifies as ‘Catholic’?

        Marginalising a problem serves only the status quo.

        1. florian albert says:

          ‘if people who identify as ‘Catholic’ are disadvantaged in their life chances by the establishment’, then that is an injustice.

          The question is, of course, whether or not this is what is happening. Tom Devine says no. I agree with him.

          Until a few decades ago, the Scottish establishment was anti-Catholic.
          Arnold Kemp, editor of the Glasgow Herald from 1981-1994 stated that a Catholic would not have been appointed when he became editor. In the early 1970s, Archie McPherson, challenged by Jock Stein, accepted that Catholics were discriminated against by the BBC.

          In more recent decades, this anti-Catholicism has vanished. In 2014, Tom Devine pointed out that 5 university Vice Chancellors in Scotland were Catholics and that would have been unthinkable thirty years before.

          There are a number of reasons why this has happened. e.g. the collapse of traditional industries where anti-Catholicism was deeply ingrained. Education is probably the main one. Catholics have used education to break through the prejudice they faced. It was only in 1984 that a Catholic secondary opened in the prosperous area of East Renfrewshire. It is now, in terms of exam results, the second best state school in Scotland.

          There are lots of disadvantaged Catholics in Scotland but they share their disadvantage – and its causes – with their neighbours who are not Catholics. You will find them in the deprived areas of cities and towns across Scotland.

          Interestingly, the book under discussion here was published over 5 years ago and till now has made no impact.

          1. 220603 says:

            Indeed, and as I said: I agree with Bruce and Devine that the structural issues have all but disappeared, inasmuch as few of our civic institutions (if any) still exclude people who identify as ‘Catholic’ on the basis of that identification.

            Where I disagree with Devine is over his marginalisation of the attitudinal or ‘moral’ issue. There are still a lot of bigots out there who remain viscerally attached to beliefs and factional loyalties that are antagonistic towards those who identify as ‘Catholic’, though this might only be marginal to Sir Tom’s life experience as a respected academic.

      2. snowy says:

        Tom Devine has worked for many decades now as a university lecturer and I doubt whether he’d see much in the way of anti-Catholic discrimination in that environment. He also, no doubt, lives in a more salubrious area where, again, blatant discrimination is a thing of the past. Just because has moved away and no longer sees it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist anymore. Nobody is suggesting he lives in a council scheme, but he’s certainly lost touch with what goes on out in the real world. Statistics are all very well, but they don’t tell the whole story. Perhaps he should look at the opinion, shared by many, that people such as himself are only in the position they are because of anti-discrimination laws and positive discrimination. The implication in that kind of attitude is that people like Devine haven’t got their positions through merit and simply don’t deserve them!

        1. florian albert says:

          You suggest that Tom Devine may owe his position to anti-discrimination laws and positive discrimination. Have you any evidence for this ?
          I would say that he owes his position to his ability as a historian. The same would apply to Billy Connolly and Steve Clarke in their careers.

          1. snowy says:

            Perhaps if you’d actually read my comment, you’d realise that I said no such thing. I was outlining the beliefs of others in this country and these beliefs have now spread to Northern Ireland, where even some politicians are suggesting that Catholics have ‘wormed their way into’ positions of influence and power.

  9. adrian rudak says:

    I am affraid that being non religious or atheist if that’s more accurate in Catholic Poland was quite difficult also . I was told that I will burn in hell for ages , won’t be able to get married and I won’t be even buried . The simple fact that church was always close to politics or trone indicates what really ignite people to wars and hatered regardless what side we re looking at (church/religion). God and the various ways of interpreting “his wil” or “the truth” it’s a root of decline in religious practices in today’s Europe which I think it’s a good thing . I come from the place which was very multicultural and rich in different views ( before the IIWW ) since the end of the war we have in a weird way monopolised “spirituality” in Poland , we build ugly concrete churches and people tend to over use the crucifix and bible , religion was introduced to schools and church became powerful beyond recognition in a middle aged style . There is probably more churches than primary schools at the moment and I think we as a people will need to reshape that . Believe in God if you want , be religious if that helps being a good person but never force anyone to be the way you want because as we can observe being religious doesn’t really mean that you are a good person .

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