Neil MacLeod’s talk, Falkirk Yes event

Here is the text of the talk given by CFI member Neil MacLeod at the “Scottish Independence  –  Campaigning Ideas” event held by Falkirk Friends of Yes at the Park Hotel, Falkirk, on 24th. September 2022:

 I want to tell you a wee story, about that wonderful summer of 2014. I was staying in a guest house in Barra.  I was there campaigning for the indyref.  My pal David Kerr and I were going to hold a meeting that evening in Castlebay.  David is Roman Catholic, I am a traditional Presbyterian – and yet in the Indyref we were campaigning side by side.  Entirely by chance, staying in the same guest house was a certain Lesley Riddoch.

The Indyref had the power to draw people together, campaigning for a common purpose. Christians for Independence had been in existence for a number of years prior to the indyref, and during the campaign we sought to persuade people right across the religious spectrum.  We were able to do that because CFI is made up of people right across that spectrum.

After the referendum it became apparent that amongst Catholics there was greater support for an Independent Scotland than there was amongst Protestants. In essence, Protestants were more likely to vote against Independence.

As a consequence, CFI worked to produce the booklet “A Christian Case for Independence”. The booklet seeks to address some of the objections which Christians sceptical of independence raise, while also showing the important role the Church has played in Scotland expressing her nationhood up to and following the Union.  A copy of the booklet was sent to every single leader we could identify, regardless of denomination, together with every single Scottish MP and MSP.

Meanwhile CFI has been working across and campaigning with other ProIndy groups and bodies.  One of those areas has been with Mike Russell, SNP President, who is working on a transitional constitution for Scotland which will appear in due course for wider discussion and debate. One area in particular that CFI has advocated for is that The European Convention on Human Rights ought to be, and is likely to be, embedded into the Transitional Constitution, so that religious freedom for all, not just Christians, is protected.

You may have seen the CFI banner at various events and marches, most recently in Inverness, and at other events around the country.  If you see us, pop over and say hello, it will be lovely to meet you.

Let me close, by saying that independence is not an end in itself.  In the Gospel of Matthew we read these words, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

We believe that we are all made in the image of God, and what I mean by that is that we have value, dignity and worth; that we all seek community.  For many Social Justice is a critical part of that, because poverty robs people of their self worth.  We see that particularly in the light of the pandemic and the energy crisis.  For a nation as rich as ours, energy and resource rich and bursting with talent, we urgently need independence.  And in the meantime Churches and Christian groups, along with others, will continue to supply food and warmth banks (I hate that these are a necessity), will give debt counselling support, will work in prisons and with the homeless as we seek to build a better nation.

The Scottish Independence movement will be built by reaching out, pulling together and working hard.  Back in Barra in 2014 we did that, as we all did across the country, and this meeting today is further evidence of that happening again.

Within the booklet, I have a short introductory piece.  At the conclusion I have the following:

My desire for my country is that it may reflect the Character of God: compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.  A country with those characteristics is one that I want to live in. 

I hope you do too.

So I thank you for your invitation today, for your friendship and for your encouragement.”