IN many Catholic households in the West of Scotland, Socialism and faith were the twin guarantors of a family’s security at a time when money was unreliable. Each of them nourished the other: your faith was empty and arid if it wasn’t underpinned by a desire to oppose injustice and inequality and your Socialism was a hollow thing without the desire to protect human dignity from the moment of conception until death.

In politics, the Labour Party was our natural home. For the tens of thousands of Catholic men who faced discrimination in the workplace after the war there was no time to weep over this or to protest. Taking to the streets on a Saturday afternoon to march against religious apartheid was a luxury you couldn’t afford when you had children to feed. Yelling slogans and painting banners was no substitute for trying to help oneself.

A powerful Labour Party in government was the quickest route to ending discrimination and the more working class Catholics who accepted this the quicker this might happen.

The Labour movement, though, began to weary of troublesome Catholics active in the trade unions or in its branch constituencies. From the outset there was a barely discernible tension between a body that worshipped at the secular altar of universal justice and members whose primary allegiance was to Rome and a tabernacle of saints you couldn’t see. And when abortion rights became a line in the sand in the modern Labour Party, Catholics who argued that all lives, including those of unborn children, were sacred soon began to feel they were becoming an inconvenience. When some foolish but influential voices in Labour also began to question the continued existence of Catholic schools it became clear that while the party boasted of being a broad church it was having trouble accommodating some of its members who were confessing Christians.

At least, though, you could still have a debate about these things in the old Labour Party. Those who supported a woman’s right to choose to abort her baby might disagree intensely with your pro-life sentiments but they would appreciate the sincerity of your position. In modern Scotland though, which strives to be the world’s most enlightened and inclusive wee country there is a campaign afoot to shut down all debate on those issues which Scotland’s social Sanhedrin considers sacrosanct and beyond dispute.

Thus, if you sincerely believe that a human life in the womb is deserving of as much protection as any other human life you are considered an extremist and obviously (if you are male) a sexist who is guilty of crimes against feminism. If you sincerely believe that the sacrament of marriage is “a covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” then there are people in Scotland who would wish to have you jailed for homophobic hate crime. And if you support the concept of faith schools then you are fuelling sectarianism, despite there never having been a scintilla of evidence to support such a specious claim.

It’s this insidious campaign of intolerance against Christians in Scotland that Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia sought to address in a recent essay for the US online publication Crux which is influential in Vatican circles. The archbishop claimed too many Catholics had become “wishy-washy” about their faith. They were being challenged by robust secularism, according to the archbishop, which was hostile to believing “in anything supernatural; in anything they can’t see or touch or experience; or in anything beyond modelling and encouraging decent behaviour”.

I always have a wee chuckle with my atheist chums when they deride the mere concept of spirituality yet have no problems with the cost of an international space programme looking for life beyond the stars. Or when they stress the random nature of creation and everything in it but can’t explain why the seasons fall in the same order year after year (but that’s another debate for another time).

The Reverend David Robertson, former moderator of the Free Church of Scotland and perhaps the most influential Christian thinker in Scotland today, knows what the archbishop is talking about. The Rev Robertson has been the victim of a sustained campaign of abuse for many years now simply for re-emphasising Christian teaching on the sanctity of life and the meaning of marriage. One of the big lies that have been allowed to take shape in modern, diverse Scotland where all are apparently welcome is that failure to sign up to the mainstream view of society and what it means to be human is evidence of hate.

If you are anti-abortion you must hate women; if you are against same-sex marriage then you must be homophobic. It’s a falsehood and a pernicious one at that. Hatred of gay, lesbian and trans-gender people and hate crimes against women are serious and ugly issues. But knowingly to manipulate ignorance around these issues to make false accusations against people whose religion you resent is an equally serious and ugly matter.

In this climate only a kind of state-sponsored Christianity is permitted of the kind which the Communist authorities have imposed on Christians in China. In Scotland this embraces the warm and cuddly aspects of the life of Jesus and rejects anything considered a bit too demanding.

John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy at St Andrews University put it far more efficiently. “Catholicism has been weakened by a substitution of belief by social action, with the replacement of rigorous moral thinking by sentimentality”.

The Professor I fear is already slightly behind the times here. Already there have been moves to force Churches by state decree to bow to the new moral totalitarianism. Last week it was revealed that Ben Thomson, who is Chairman of Creative Scotland, has advised the Scottish Government to change the law to force Catholic and Muslim leaders to permit female priests and mullahs. Effectively, this individual, a member of the influential Edinburgh establishment, is seeking to bring about state-sponsored religion. Other groups are trying to persuade the government faith schools are hotbeds of anti-gay propaganda and must be shut. It’s another lie.

Not so very long ago the Catholic Church viewed the Orange Order in Scotland with a degree of fear and suspicion. The two institutions might soon find themselves uniting under one banner. Their common enemy is now an illiberal and feral anti-religious movement which wants to criminalise faith.