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Christian politician persists in Scotland

Kate Forbes stands up to progressive bullying

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes Getty Images/Photo by Ken Jack

Christian politician persists in Scotland

Progressives have peppered Kate Forbes with questions about her Christian faith since she first ran for Scottish Parliament in 2016. Now that she is in line to become the highest-ranking government official in Scotland, the questions have turned to attacks.

Numerous progressive Scottish politicians say Forbes’ Biblical views on marriage, sexuality, and abortion are the “polar opposite to a modern, progressive Scotland” and have no place in the country. But two weeks into her candidacy for first minister, polling puts Forbes in the lead for Scotland’s top job.

Forbes is a member of the Free Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian denomination that believes the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

“It’s a great shock to many of the progressives in Scotland, that someone so young, and in such a position of power, can be a Biblical believer,” said David Robertson, a longtime pastor in the Free Church of Scotland.

Forbes was just 29 years old when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon appointed her finance minister of Scotland. Forbes’ predecessor resigned suddenly over a scandal involving inappropriate texts to a 16-year-old.

Then Sturgeon resigned suddenly last month following a controversy over transgender policies. In December, the Scottish Parliament passed the Gender Recognition Reform Act, making it possible for people to change their legal gender based solely on self-identification. The bill has been blocked by the U.K. government. Forbes was on maternity leave at the time of the vote but said she would have voted against it.

Scottish authorities later moved two-time rapist Isla Bryson to a women’s prison after Bryson claimed to identify as a woman. Public outcry forced Sturgeon to backtrack that decision after she initially said her government had nothing to apologize for in the controversy. Bryson was returned to a men’s prison. Forbes, now 32, is running to replace Sturgeon as the leader of the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), which is known for its support of Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom.

Several of Forbes’ backers in her own party withdrew their support for her candidacy after she answered questions about her religious beliefs in press interviews.

“Marriage being between a man and a woman, that is what I practice,” Forbes said on Scotland’s STV. She said that if she had been a member of Parliament when the same-sex marriage law passed in 2014 she would have voted her conscience against the bill. But as first minister, she said, she would uphold the law and “defend to the hilt everybody’s right in a pluralistic and tolerant society to live and to love free of harassment and fear.”

She said she’s always been upfront with her views, saying, “it’s important for SNP members to vote with full knowledge of who they were voting for.” But the sheer scale of the attacks against her was surprising. After the initial outcries, Forbes told ITV News that she wanted to “unequivocally apologize for any hurt that has been caused,” adding, “I absolutely defend people’s right in this country to marry, as they’ve been able to do for the past nine years.”

Progressives’ labeling of Forbes as a bigot may have provoked a backlash. Her supporters point out that while Forbes pledged to defend the rights of those with whom she disagrees, her detractors have denied her right to have religious views, protected under the Equality Act. “I actually admire her for not being dishonest,” said U.K. Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch. “It’d be very easy for her to tell lies, just so that she could win that election, and she’s not doing that, and I think that’s something people need to take into account.”

Polls show Scots may agree with Badenoch. A poll commissioned by The Sunday Times showed 23 percent of Scots favor Forbes to replace Sturgeon, compared to 15 percent for her closest rival, Humza Yousaf, and 7 percent for a third contender, Ash Regan. A third of Scots approve of Forbes’ job performance in government, far ahead of Yousaf and Regan.

More recent Scottish media coverage has turned towards Forbes’ policy stances. She told town hall attendees that her two main goals were to eradicate poverty and to put social services on a sustainable footing. To do that, she wants to support small businesses. “In general, by default, I believe in decentralizing power,” Forbes said.

Jenny Lind Schmitt

Jenny is WORLD’s global desk chief and European reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute and Smith College graduate. She is the author of the novel Mountains of Manhattan and resides in Porrentruy, Switzerland, with her family.


These summarize the news that I could never assemble or discover by myself. —Keith

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