Sectarianism in modern Scottish Society. Religion Based, or Football based?

According to James MacMillan in his Telegraph blog, modern Scotland is tolerant…. ( )

Please… what part of Scotland do you live in? modern Scotland is NOT tolerant. The sectarianism is just as rife (if not more so) than it has ever been.  Before i get into this highly complex story, i must first state that i am neither Catholic nor Protestant, in fact I am an Atheist. Ergo, my opinions are based on fact and not religious doctrine/teachings (call it what you will, its all brainwashing in my view)

The Crown has admitted to destroying data that proves the majority of sectarian crimes are anti-Catholic, but It appears to me, that Amongst the Scottish based media, and even some of the English based media, there IS a Catholic bias with regards to sectarianism and the sectarian crimes that have been committed.

So the Protestants are all bigots and zealots who abuse Catholics then are they? Wrong, well, HALF wrong anyway. It is true the majority of Protestants are zealots, who are proud to be Orange, and the majority are vocal about it, some TOO vocal in my opinion. Its one thing to be a “Proud Proddy” to quote one of my friends, but drawing attention to yourself in the current climate seems to me to just leave yourself open to attack. Odd behaviour when you take into account it is the Protestants moaning the loudest about having their human rights put upon by Catholics, although understandable as i have never heard a Protestant publicly denounce the Catholic religion or try to convert them. Whereas the Catholic church, in Particular the ROMAN Catholic church, seem to have the opinion that Protestants are dirty and have no right to practise such a heretical religion.

Personally, i have never heard a Catholic moaning about being abused by “Proddy’s” face to face, but google the term “protestant sectarian abuse towards catholics in Scotland” and the result is pages and pages on high profile sectarian abuse by Protestants, with the most common name appearing being Celtic Manager, Neil Lennon, who was famously sent bullets through the post.

Why is it then, that the media represents sectarian attacks on Catholics more than it does on Protestants? Statistics show that Catholics are six times more likely to be a victim of sectarian abuse than Protestants, yet all i hear is Protestants complaining that the Catholic church is denouncing their religion, the British institutions are forbidding them to march, and that they are being persecuted for their views and beliefs.

Its a strange bias, bearing mind that Britain’s official church is the Church Of England, as set down by Henry VIII, which anyone who is theologically minded will tell you is closer to Protestantism than Catholicism, so the bias towards Catholics being persecuted as being worse than Protestants being persecuted is baffling, and to say the least, unfair, especially when you take into account that, in my experience, it is the Protestants who get the worse end of the deal.

Attacks on the Protestants go unreported, whilst if a Protestant farts in front of a church, its headline news. Now, I am not saying for one moment that the statistics are wrong, and that there are as many attacks on Protestants as there are Catholics, just that the majority of the press is biased towards reporting the incidences towards Catholics.

The press are hot on using the word “Bigot” when reporting sectarian abuse, i wonder how many of them know that the word is a derivative of “Bigodite” a word used by Catholics towards Protestants as an insult, although I am sure that this is something they have researched right? wrong.

Speaking as an atheist, The Catholic Church, to me is repugnant. It subverts people and is a completely hypocritical, indoctrinated, evil religion which has no right to associate itself with Christianity. do not get me wrong, i do not hate Catholics, or the Catholic religion, I however do hate the way it is governed and operates. Pope Pious XII‘s silence over the holocaust, its prolonged history of global child abuse, and its refusal to report cases at the time, and its strict adherence to outdated religious doctrine and views, which quite frankly, border on the antiquated and insane (I am, of course referring to its views on homosexuality, contraception and abortion here) make me believe it is one of the most badly run organisations in the world.

The Old Firm (for those unfamiliar with Scottish football, its the name given to Celtic FC and Rangers FC (Now “The Rangers FC” after they recently went into administration and reformed as a NEWCO)) are synonymous with sectarianism, as are, albeit to a lesser extent Hearts, Hibernian and a few other clubs.

Both teams using football to further their own religious intolerance and claiming the other side started it, or to put it in Scottish vernacular “it wisnae us, it wis them”. Predominantly, it is these sets of fans who continue the hatred and bigotry, which sadly has been passed down from generation to generation.

So, is it just about William of Orange and the battle of the Boyne, or is it deeper than that?

I suppose, for the most part, its mostly human nature (ask the average Rangers fan about religion and why they hate Catholics, i bet you only the most fervent Protestants/Orange-men could tell you any of the differences between the religions doctrines, where as the majority will probably answer “because they support Celtic”.

Theologically though, many of the disagreements between a Catholic and a Protestant will revolve around interpretation of the bible, the Catholic choosing to rely on the traditions taught by the Catholic church, opposed to the Protestants personal interpretations on the bibles teachings.

But, and this is a big but, the hatred accumulated over the centuries have served to detract from the real reason for the Protestant/Catholic divide. The Reformation. John Knox and his “thou shalt not” ideals (who to me seems more akin to a Methodist or Quaker than he does a Protestant, but thats just my opinion) and the failed Jacobite rebellion, in the second war of Independence, and also the Catholic’s persecution of Protestants, and their right to practice their religion.

“The Reformation movement of the 15th century saw Protestantism, a new type of Christianity, sweep across western Europe. The various leaders of these emerging groups had beliefs and ideals which were not in keeping with the practices and belief systems of the traditional Catholic Church of Rome. There was considerable public support for this movement in Scotland, once a predominantly Catholic country. Protestantism was later adopted by the state as Scotland’s national religion with various strands and movements emerging over time .

The 17th and 18th century saw conflict between the Jacobite followers of Catholic King James VII and the forces of King William and Queen Mary, who took the throne in 1688 and were not Roman Catholics. In the 19th century the prospect of Jacobite invasion declined, yet sectarian conflict continued as a result of immigration of those who later fled famine in Ireland (a traditionally Catholic country) and sought to live and work in Scotland.” Source –

The majority of the Catholic community hail from Irish roots, from the mass influx during the Irish potato famine, where as the majority of the Protestants are from Scottish roots and are unionists. This of course adds to the tension between the two groups (dating from the Crowns occupation of Ireland) and it seems to me, in an age where religion is no longer as popular and more relaxed that football is the only forum in which to express this hatred.

Of course, the rivalry between the old firm has always existed, as derby clubs, but it really rose to the forefront in the 1980 Scottish cup final, when Celtic fans rushed the pitch to congratulate their players on winning, and the Rangers fans took exception to this, rushed the pitch and violence ensued.

Its not just the supporters who have shown these colours either, Scottish referee, Hugh Dallas, sent an email on the day of the Popes visit last year, insinuating that His Holiness was a danger to children. This in turn prompted the Catholic Church in Scotland to write to Stewart Regan insisting on his dismissal.

Interestingly, he quoted in the letter the current sectarian crime rate figures. Of the 450 charges brought, 108 were analysed by the Crown office. 29% were anti-Protestant related, 63% were anti-Catholic. A further 14% were football related incidents and 15% related to parades or marches.

So, what the Catholic church in Scotland just admitted to was that, in actuality, 44% of sectarian crimes were anti-Protestant (the 29% added to the 15% related to marches or parades) not the 29% it first claimed.

More instances of Catholic bias, but before you say “but you just said it was more to do with football than religion” bear in mind these are just figures and do not relate to the REASONS behind the sectarianism, which i still firmly believe is being accelerated by football.

But is it even about religion any more? is it more about football hooliganism masquerading behind the face of religion, and using as a vehicle to continue the violence?

there is no doubt that the majority of sectarian crimes are perpetrated by people who claim to follow either Rangers Or Celtic, so is this growing trend more football related than religion based now? or is it still just the only forum the sectarianism can publicly show its evil face?

The Scottish Government clearly think so, as has been seen with the new anti-sectarian laws, which even outlaws some of the songs the old firm and a few other clubs sung, songs like, Celtic’s “Up the ‘RA” a pro IRA song, or Rangers “famine song” which parody’s the Irish potato famine and “big Jock knew” which is aimed a Jock Stein, who allegedly knew that members of his staff at Celtic were abusing youth team members.

In truth, a lot of the Catholic bias may be attributed to the fact Rangers fans, DO seem to be worse with the sectarian singing than the Celtic fans, as do the Hearts fans (attributed as being a traditionally protestant team) seem worse than the Hibernian fans, so perhaps the anti-Protestant bias stems from this.   In a Glasgow based media, which CLEARLY has demonstrated a bias toward Catholicism and the Glasgow football teams in general, its hard to say.

Or maybe its just simply tit-for-tat? To quote the great Billy Connolly “we’ll keep pissing in their bovril, while they keep shitting in our shoes”



  1. stood at bus stop, spat at,crime i was in my new catholic school uniform. went home after school,went outside played football with my protestant pals. UNREAL eh.

    1. Yeah. It still knocks me sick all the bigotry from both sides. To say its unnecessary if an understatement, but try telling the knuckle draggers who practice it on the streets and terraces of Scotland…

  2. joe bloggs · · Reply

    People stand up for what they fear not what they love
    That is the problem

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