A senior church figure has said in his Christmas message that freedom of speech will be damaged by the "mob mentality" of social media.

Free Church of Scotland Moderator Rev David Robertson claimed restraints on people voicing their thoughts has created a "monochrome society" where diverse views may be stifled by broad public opinion.

The Dundee minister said the message was one of "equality, diversity and freedom to set people free from such tyranny".

Mr Robertson said in the annual message: “As I listen to the same opinions, delivered by the same people with the same certainty, in their own media ‘safe spaces’, I cannot but wonder how monochrome we are becoming as a society.

"Just as the ‘free market’ has meant the devastation of our high streets and the removal of diverse local shops, so the need to instil the new morality in our schools is reducing them to a monochrome dullness.

“Social media combined with the increasing power of the rich has resulted in a mob mentality which threatens anyone who dares to be against the ‘equality and diversity’ agenda, thus ironically seeking to prevent any real diversity from the social and moral mores handed down from those who govern us."

He said that faith in Jesus Christ was different because there is 'real and genuine diversity' among his followers.

Mr Robertson said: "Because we are in him we don’t have to be all the same.

“Equality is one of the great mantras of our society – and yet the more we shout about it, the less it happens.

“The gap between rich and poor increases and as this is accompanied by a decline in public services it means that for the poor it is even worse. "

He added that poorer education, healthcare and job opportunities were not "good news" for those living in poverty.

The minister added: "Our liberal elites talk about equality, but have failed to deliver it.

"So why does Christ deliver equality?

“Because all human beings are made in the image of God, all are created by him and for him, and all have the potential to be redeemed and renewed creatures fit for eternity.”

Mr Robertson added that he was praying the people of Scotland receive God's gifts and that in a year's time the country would be in a better and happier place.

He added: “Of course all the gifts are dependent on the greatest gift of all – Christ himself. That is what Christmas is all about.

“Whatever other gifts we receive let us pray that we will all receive Him in all his beauty, gentleness and glory.

“As the carol says ‘where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in’.”

The church leader also said that Christmas at one time had either been banned or hardly celebrated in Scotland.

He referred to the late writer and religious critic Christopher Hitchens, who had argued that this was because Scots Presbyterians were against partying and drinking.

Mr Robertson added: "He clearly had never been here on Hogmanay.

"I remember as a child thinking that New Year was far more important and exciting.

"Sometimes when I see the exploitation and farce of much of today’s Christmas celebrations I am tempted to think that our forefathers had a point."