Scottish Religion


Figure 1.--These Scottish boys are doing their First Communion in 2004. Rather than a special suit they are wearing their school uniforms, except the boy wearing a kilt. The boys in the middle attend a prominant Glasgoe private school. The biys wearing long pants attend a state Catholic school.

Christianity was first brought to Scotland by the Celtic Church, but as in England was evetually overwealmed by the Roman Church. The Reformation converted the vast mahority of Scotts, but Catholcism survived in isolated northern areas, especially the islands like Uist and Barr. Scotland is a largely Protestant country. The Scottish Reformation and Kirk had had a major influence on Western thought. The Scottish Reformsation played an impprtant role in English Reformation. The Scottish enlightment through men like John Locke and Adam Smith had a powerful impact oin both England and America, a remarable development for such a small country. There were a few isolated areas of Scotland that remained Catholic. And in the 19th century Irish emigration brought many Irish Catholics to Scotland, many went to Glasgow where there were industrial jobs.

Religious Groups

The most important religion in Scotland id the Church of Scotland (The Kirk). It is the national church of Scotland dating from the Reformation.. The Kirk is the established church, but It differs from the Church of England, the established Anglican Church in England which retained many Catholic features. Although it is the established church, it is not controlled by the statem but rather influences the state. The Kirk has a Presbyterian form of church governance and is close in theology to the American Presbyterian Church. One important theologicl tennent is predestination. The Kirk preached a strict moralist theology and maintained a kept a tight hold on the loyalties of the Scottish people. Scottish emigrants founded the Presbyterian Church in America. The Kirk played a huge role in daily Scottish life. Calvanists do not accept the more Catholic-influenced Liturgical Year, Scotts did not celebrated Christmas to any extent until after World War II when modern media became more culturally important. Scotland as a result of the intelectual discourse of promoted by Calvinism played an important part in the Englightenment. This was a development of enormous consequence and notably achieved by such a small country. Out of the Kirk and Scottish Enlightenment came perhaps the most important politicalm philospher of modern times--John Locke (1632-1704). The American Constitution is essentially a Lockian document. Another influence coming out of Scotland and the Kirk was Adam Smith (1723-90), the first author to describe the functioning of capitalism--the "hidden hand". Despite the huge influence of Scoltand in political and economic thouht, the rather austere philosophy of the Kirk restrained Scottish contributions tothe arts until the 19th century. The direction of the Kirk shifted remarakably in the 19th century, becoming increasingly tolerant with a growing interest in ecumenism. The Kirk continues to be Scotland's most important religious denomination (42 percent, 2001). There are, however, many other denominations active in Scotland. The most important is Roman Catholcism (16 percent, 2001). Christianity was first brought to Scotland by the Celtic Church, but as in England was evetually overwealmed by the Roman Church. The Reformation converted the vast mahority of Scotts, but Catholcism survived in isolated northern areas, especially the islands like Uist and Barr. More importantly, the 19th century Potato Famine that drove the Catholic Irish to America also drove them across the Irish Sea to England and Scotland. Thus a number of Scottish boys do First Communions, but only a few do it wearing kilts. These Scottish boys are doing their First Communion in 2004. Rather than a special suit they are wearing their school uniforms, except the boy wearing a kilt (figure 1). We note an unidentified Scottish boy doing his First Communion, we think in the 1960s. Many Irish immigrants settled in Glasgow, a large industrial city which offered jobs. Thus Catholcism is now strongest in western Scotland. One result has been some of the same sectarian divide as sennin Ulster although on a less intense and violent line. They were notable most prominantely in job discrimination and football fanaticism, but have declined in recent years. Other Protestant demominations are present in smaller numbers. The Scottish Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion. The Free Church of Scotland brokeaway from the Kirk. Islam in recent years has become the largest non-Christian religion in Scotland, although the numbers are much smaller than in England (1 percent, 2001). There are Jewish and Sikh communities, mostly in Glasgow. Many Scotts identify themselves in the Census as having no religion (28 percent, 2001). They were the largest groupin the 2001 Census after the Kirk.

The Reformation

While the Reformation in England was initaited by the monarchy, in Scotland in occurred in spite of the opposition of the monarchy, although supported by the English. The Scottish Reformation was a grassroots mocement which undercut the reigning, Mary Queen of Scotts. The Reformation was preceeded by a rising sence of popular disatisgaction with the Catholic clergy. Both Lollardy and Wycliffe in England had influenced some. Merchants and the minor nobility were the first to embrace the Reformation, not only for religius reasons, but as a vehicle for independece from both Catholic England and France. Protestant teaching reached Scotland only a few years after Martin Lurther launched the Reformation. As early as 1522 the Royal Government was attempting to stop the circulation of Luthern books. Early Reformation leaders like Patrick Hamilton were adherents of Luther, but John Knox led the Scottish Reformation to a Calvinist confession. John Knox lived for a time in Geneva and was influenced by John Calvin. He became the driving force of the Reformation in Scotland. Know was the first spokesman for Presbyterianism. Knox persuaded the Scottish Parliament to adopt a confession and book of discipline modeled on those develooped by Calvin in Geneva (1560). Parliament created the Scottish Presbyterian Church governed by local kirks and thus came to be called the Kirk. This was a major shift from the Catholic Church which was goiverned by the pope and church hierarchy rather than local chuches. Mary Queen of Scotts attempted to attempted to reinstate the Catholic Church, but was driven to exile in England. Her infant son James, the future James I of England, was kept in Scotland and eventually tutored by Presbyterian scholars. The Catholic Church was reduced to minor importance, except for a few distiricts in the north.

Clothing

Some Scottish boys also used to wear kilts for church, but this is now less common except for boys at private schools. Some Scottish boys wear kilts for religious services and special events like weddings.







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Created: 7:14 AM 6/22/2004
Last updated: 4:19 PM 2/7/2010