ROME — The spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Church has warned against an imposed uniformity in the name of diversity that respects sexual orientations while failing to respect “religious orientations.”
“In our pursuit of diversity we have embraced conformity,” said Catholic spokesman Peter Kearney. “There is absolutely an intolerance of certain types of difference. We are less tolerant of people’s religious orientations.”
“Some of the things that have been said about religious opinions leave a lot of Catholics and a lot of Christians feeling marginalized,” he added.
Kearney’s remarks came in response to a vicious public outlash against Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, a believing Christian who is running to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as Scottish First Minister.
Forbes, a member of the Free Church of Scotland, has been vilified for saying she believes in traditional marriage and does not support self-identification for transgender people. After saying she would not have voted for same-sex marriage had she been a member of Parliament in 2014, many of her supporters retracted their backing, while others attacked her as homophobic.
In a series of posts on social media Thursday, Forbes said she felt “greatly burdened and heartsore that some of my responses to direct questions in the media have caused hurt to friends, colleagues and fellow citizens,” noting this was “never my intention.”
Forbes further vowed to “protect the rights of everybody in Scotland, particularly minorities, to live and to love without fear or harassment in a pluralistic and tolerant society,” asserting she would “uphold the laws that have been hard won, as a servant of democracy.”
“I’ve represented my constituents for 6 years. In full knowledge of my faith, voters re-elected me with one of the biggest majorities in Scotland in 2021,” she declared. “That demonstrates that voters were comfortable knowing that I would serve them faithfully and without prejudice.”
In response to Forbes’ situation, Kearney said he feared that people’s sincerely held religious beliefs are not being defended in public life as they merit.
“Human rights law describes certain ‘protected characteristics’, among them: Race, gender and sexual orientation, which cannot be used as a basis for discrimination,” he said. “It is important that we remember religion is also a protected characteristic, deserving of respect.”
“If someone was deemed unsuited to office on the basis of any other protected characteristic there would, quite rightly, be outraged and indignant reactions,” he added. “As a society we will be guilty of hypocrisy if we don’t defend everyone’s right to freely hold, manifest and express their religious beliefs.”
“It’s difficult to imagine anyone entering elected politics who didn’t have ‘deeply held views’; whether they are economic, social, environmental or religious views shouldn’t matter. What matters is that they don’t impose those views on others, but instead respect differences,” he said.
Thomas D. Williams is Breitbart Rome Bureau Chief and the author of The Coming Christian Persecution.