Why do a majority of people in Scotland have no religion?


Church of ScotlandBefore I get to the story, following is an excerpt from The Briefing, Dr. Albert Mohler’s daily podcast. Today Dr. Mohler examined the reasons that half the people living in Scotland have no religion, and the main reason will surprise you. He writes,

In a very important book published by Banner of Truth Trust there in Scotland just last year, David J. Randall, a former minister in the Church of Scotland, in a book entitled A Sad Departure, points out that the underlying issue is and always remains the authority of Scripture. He says,

“It is this question of the position and authority of the Bible in the church that is at the heart of this present controversy. The secular press,” he writes, “often represents the dispute as a struggle over whether the church should be pro-gay or anti-gay. But the basic issue is that of the relationship of the church to the Bible.”

Pastor Randall went on to describe a parable of a multi-story office building in which cracks appeared in the wall of the 42nd floor. He went on to explain that when an architectural and engineering study was taken, it was discovered that the problem actually wasn’t on the 42nd floor at all. It was at the foundation of the building itself. Randall then writes,

“The story illustrates what has been happening in the Church of Scotland for a number of years. The crack on the 42nd floor is the crisis that has been occasioned by the question of the rightness or wrongness of inducting practicing homosexual people to the Christian ministry. But the real problem,” he says, “is down in the foundations, where liberally minded people have been chiseling away at the biblical foundations of the church for a long time.”

Mohler goes on to say that Randall’s book “tells the story of congregations and pastors who came to the conclusion that faithfulness to the Scripture, theological fidelity, required that they leave the denomination they had loved and served for so long.”

So people are not leaving the Church because of social issues.  No. The decline in Church attendance is the result of the relationship of the Church to the Bible — the authority of the Scripture.

Now to Religion News Service’s report:

More than half of the 5.4 million people living in Scotland have no religion, according to a survey published by Scottish Social Attitudes.

The 52 percent of unaffiliated Scots represents a 12 percent jump from 16 years ago, when 40 percent of survey respondents said they had no religious affiliation.

The proportion of people who say they belong to the Church of Scotland — the Presbyterian Church that for so long dominated almost every aspect of life in that country — has fallen dramatically, to just 20 percent, down from 39 percent of the population in 1999.

“The survey’s findings show that Scottish commitment to religion, both in terms of our willingness to say we belong to a religion and to attend religious services, is in decline,” said Ian Montagu, a researcher at ScotCen Social research in Edinburgh, which runs the annual surveys.

“This change doesn’t appear to be affecting all religions equally,” he added. “Affiliation with the Church of Scotland is in decline while levels of identification with other religions remains relatively unchanged.”  Continue reading




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9 Responses to Why do a majority of people in Scotland have no religion?

  1. Bonnie April 7, 2016 at 11:33 am #

    I would suggest that a number of things are happening to cause this decline:
    1. The apostasy of the age we live in – the love of many will grow cold
    2. Reformed Calvinist theology of the Church of Scotland eventually leads to apathy by its very nature (for those who are honest Calvinists)- if I am elected/preserved by God for salvation/damnation before I am born what difference does it make what I do? I should just be thankful, go to church, praise God, and carry on my merry way – no need to evangelize (no church growth)
    3. As the post suggests, the foundation of Scripture has been destroyed -the Church of Scotland has adopted the corrupt translation of the New International Version of the Bible as authoritative in the majority of its churches. The NIV casts doubt on very many dearly held Christian doctrines, including the doctrine of the Bible’s own authority, casts doubt on the Bible’s authenticity by inserting footnotes with alternative readings, containss additions, has omissions, and contains many errors. How can this bring spiritual health to a church? When people begin to doubt the Bible is God’s very Word to man, it all falls apart.
    4. John Calvin’s church/state model from its outset was faulty and was bound to be a failure. Jesus did not come to set up an earthly, physical kingdom for the Gentiles in this present age; this is a faulty reading of Scripture; rather, the church is a spiritual kingdom with earthly, physical implications. The Church of Scotland is built on church/state model, therefore it is not modeled after the true church of Jesus Christ.

    • lyn April 7, 2016 at 4:12 pm #


      I believe that God elected me unto eternal life, that doesn’t mean I follow John Calvin. I believe the doctrine of election because the Bible teaches it. Do I think I can sit back and rest on my laurels? Hardly. I must strive for holiness, mortify sin, grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, etc.
      I think you are painting with too broad a brush and lump all who hold to the biblical doctrines of grace into a certain camp. I have no knowledge of Calvin and don’t need it, Christ is who I follow.

      What has caused the decline in churches? False teachings, and an accursed gospel that says you can be saved if you invite Jesus into your heart,, accept Jesus as your savior, make a decision for Him, answer an altar call, get baptized, and any other method invented by man. Charles Finney is the culprit of the easy believism gospel, which is no gospel at all. This is worth reading concerning the faulty teachings of Finney – http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue53.htm
      Because sinners are told they are saved if they do something, we now have multitudes of professors but not true possessors of Christ. You must be born again, and that is a work of God the Spirit, not man.
      Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it very clear, salvation and faith are a gift of God by His grace, not of works, lest any man boast. This is why man cannot take part in being saved, for he would brag and boast of his ‘work’ and rob God of glory due only Him. The power of the Gospel is what saves {see Romans 1:16} and not some step by step method man spews out.

      • Friend April 11, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

        Excellent answer Bonnie…I cringe when I hear a pastor quote C. Finney from the pulpit. Jesus promises us that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church! We have to remain obedient and persevere to the end. We will see Him soon!

      • L.J. May 2, 2016 at 11:37 am #

        Where are all those wonderful arminianists to set them straight? I hope they haven’t fallen into apathy too.

      • Edwitness May 15, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

        You are confusing Calvin’s teaching that you can’t change by your choice whether you are saved or not. In it he says that if you are the elect you have no choice other than to believe. And if you are not you can never believe, no matter how much you may want to. And that God has predestined you to whatever one that is for you.

        Calvin taught that you are predestined for hell or heaven and there is not one thing you can do about it. This is the “apathy by it’s very nature” Bonnie is referring to.

        I am hoping that you are not saying you believe that which is found in Calvin’s teaching.


        • Edwitness May 15, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

          I meant “This is what creates the “apathy by it’s very nature” Bonnie is referring to.

    • Edwitness May 15, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

      Amen Bonnie. Wow! You said that very well 🙂

  2. Dawei February 27, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

    I think you all miss the point…

    • Manny1962 February 28, 2017 at 9:02 am #

      No friend you missed the point, this site is about Christians helping those that are Christians and those with honest questions regarding our faith, many are just starting out and headed for the narrow gate, we strive to encourage and to help them to stay on that very narrow path, while avoiding the pitfalls the enemy sets along the way. As for you, you’re angry and bitter at God, you shake your fist at Him as if it’s going to give you solace from your broken heart, as bitter and resentful as you are, I put this to you: come to Jesus Christ, forsake your sin He will make you a new person, with eyes to see and ears to hear. Time is running out, and His offer won’t last forever, jump on it while you have a chance, or these hollow words of yours will one day be a witness against you. God bless you Dawei, hate is not the answer, Jesus Christ the Son of God is. Remember Dawei, time is running out, and you have no excuses.