What is the Free Church of Scotland and what do they stand for?

The Free Church of Scotland, in Urray (Free usage)
The Free Church of Scotland, in Urray (Free usage)

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has been warned that her staunch religious beliefs could stop her from becoming the Scottish National Party’s new leader.

Nicola Sturgeon’s departure has left a vacancy for a first minister, but up-and-coming political force Ms Forbes has been told her strict views as a member of the Free Church of Scotland could be problematic.

Ms Forbes has strict views on abortion and same-sex marriage, which could be seen as unpopular with the electorate and could extinguish her career dream before they even ignite.

What is the Free Church of Scotland?

The church was originally a protest breakaway group from the mainstream Church of Scotland, formed in 1843.

It is the second-largest denomination after the national Church of Scotland and has strict conservative views on matters such as same-sex marriage and abortion. The Presbyterian group takes its teachings directly from the Bible.

On its website, it states: “We believe that the Bible is God’s Word and that it should be central in all that we do.”

What are some of their beliefs which are deemed controversial?

The church is famously anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage, believing both to contravene the strict teachings of the Bible.

Former Free Church moderator, the Reverend David Robertson, previously compared abortion to slavery.

Speaking in 2015 during a debate on abortion law, he said: “Scots will look back at the evil of terminations with the same horror as historical disgraces such as slavery.”

What does the Free Church of Scotland say about gay marriage?

The church does not recognise same-sex marriage, deeming it a sin.

On their website, it states: “This revolution has had a very destructive impact on society’s understanding of morality, love, liberty, marriage, the family, and much more that is critical to God-honouring living.

“God has appointed the marriage union between one man and one woman and protected it with the Seventh Commandment. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” includes the prohibition of “sodomy and unnatural lists”.

Kate Forbes is a follower of the Free Church of Scotland (Andrew Milligan / PA)
Kate Forbes is a follower of the Free Church of Scotland (Andrew Milligan / PA)

What has Kate Forbes said about her beliefs?

The up-and-coming MP has said she is a follower of the Free Church but has never gone into specific detail about her beliefs.

She said: I am a person before I was a politician and that person will continue to believe that I am made in the image of God,” adding: “I make my own decisions on the basis of what decision is right and wrong, according to my faith, not according to the diktat of any church.”