LIKE many others who seek social redemption in the ideas of the left, my socialism was formed by my Catholic faith. This was accelerated by a succession of teachers who, looking back, were somewhat selective in choosing appropriate Bible stories. Thus, the parables of the widow’s mite and Jesus’s rage at the money-changers and the challenges that would be faced by rich men seeking ingress to paradise all helped plant the seeds of activism in youthful minds. Jesus was on the side of the poor and the dispossessed and wanted his followers to be there too.

It’s why the overwhelming bulk of Christian social outreach is to be found in relieving famine and helping the victims of war and why care of the elderly and the mentally and physically infirm is intrinsic to its mission in the world. Human life in all its forms is held to be sacred and in those places where its sanctity is threatened the Christian churches will not be far away. This extends also to the unborn child whom we consider to be the most vulnerable and fragile of God’s creations. That the saviour’s first recorded miracle was to help get everyone at the wedding feast of Cana howling with the wine also proved to be a wee Brucie Bonus amidst the detritus of many alcoholic shenanigans.

In the treacherous and twisted cultural landscape of Donald Trump’s America the places where faith and politics intersect have become crucibles. In them are the keys to the president’s hopes of securing a second term in office. Here too traditional ideas of Christian faith are being weaponised by shadowy forces connected to Mr Trump.

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Many of those whose left-wing and liberal politics were formed by faith have found it astonishing how many others who profess to be Christians view Mr Trump as their champion. This seems to be based almost exclusively on his stated opposition to abortion and the number of religiously-conservative judges he has managed to insinuate into key positions on the US Supreme Court and the federal government. Thus their concern for the unborn child seems not to extend to the children of Mexican immigrants who are held in border detention centres and treated like animals.

It also seems impervious to Mr Trump’s megaphone support for the forces of racism and his deliberate alienation of politicians of non-US ethnicity. It laughs in the face of the increasing number of independent allegations of criminal sexual misconduct and his recorded view of women as mere objects of sexual gratification and entitlement. “That which you do unto the least of my brethren so you do unto me,” has been twisted into the Godless Trumpian dogma of; “That which harms the least of my brethren is perfectly acceptable to me.” This is an evil dogma propagated by the forces of darkness and once foreseen by the Saviour of the world: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” To uphold the sanctity of the unborn child is meaningless if such compassion doesn’t extend to the entire human race who were also created in the image of God.

Steve Bannon, the master strategist behind Mr Trump’s election, has also been roaming the world. This clever and wily individual who seeks out ignorance and prejudice where he can find it before fashioning it into something he can use in the eternal service of his master has spotted an opportunity he can exploit within the worldwide Catholic Church. In this he is deploying a two-pronged line of attack. He is sewing dissent against Pope Francis’s attempts to reform a broken church by ending its alienation of gay people and relaxing restrictions on divorce and re-marriage. How much Mr Bannon and his acolytes care about these issues is debatable but the Pope’s agenda has enraged a powerful right-wing lobby in the Vatican.

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His strong support for immigrants and refugees and his warnings about climate change have led to unprecedented opposition and criticism from within Rome of a sitting pope. Mr Bannon’s acolytes include several influential and very rich members of the Catholic right-wing establishment in the UK and the US. Their resources and connections may yet prove crucial in bringing Catholics towards Mr Trump in an election race whose outcome looks like resting once more on a handful of swing states.

Alarmingly, the numbers justify this strategy. According to recent US polls, around 44 per cent of Catholics support Mr Trump, a figure which climbs amidst affluent white ones. In a deleted segment of Brink, the cinematic docudrama about Mr Bannon, he discusses the use of analytics to target Catholic mass-goers through their smart devices.

There’s a warning in reverse in all of this for the SNP and some in the scarecrow wing of the wider Yes movement whose enthusiasm for progressive and inclusive politics doesn’t extend to permitting Christians to profess their faith without being subject to abuse and intimidation. This alienation of Christian members may yet have damaging and far-reaching consequences.

The Labour Party in Scotland found this to its cost when Christian pro-life supporters who had voted Labour all their lives began to encounter threats and harassment when they attempted to set up stalls at annual conferences. Many of them migrated to the SNP under the astute stewardship of former leader Alex Salmond who realised that a key to unseating Labour as the Party of Government lay in breaking the traditional bonds between the party and its West of Scotland Catholic strongholds.

Following the 2014 referendum on independence it was revealed that support for Yes amongst Scotland’s faith groups was highest among the Catholic community. They had increasingly become alarmed at the Gospel of ‘me first’ and ‘survival of the strongest’ being preached by the disciples of the far right who had increasingly begun to exert control of the UK Government. This has since found its apotheosis in the DUP’s influence and the rise in a Tommy Robinson-inspired English nationalism.

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It would be a tragedy for the SNP and the wider Yes movement if, just at the moment they got to within touching distance of independence, many of its newest supporters felt unable to continue the journey owing to the hostility they have encountered simply for expressing their deeply-held religious convictions. Our politics may have been formed by our faith but it comes a distant second to it in our lives.