A NEW fundamentalism is emerging which threatens our political system. Politics is oppositional, but political parties are supposed to bring together those of different ethnicities, classes and religion around a common cause. But in today’s fragmented culture, driven by identity politics and intersectionality, this is becoming increasingly difficult.

The American right is often accused on engaging in single issue politics – only voting for pro-life candidates. But fundamentalism seems to be contagious. On Sunday, The Times covered a story in which the Catholic church accused the SNP of trying to prevent individuals who oppose abortion and gender reform plans from being selected for next year’s Holyrood election.

Dr Lisa Cameron, an SNP MP, voted against imposing radical new abortion laws on the people of Northern Ireland. The consultant clinical psychologist explained that her stance was partly the result of two miscarriages. However, her personal story was not enough to save her from online hostility and calls for the SNP to deselect her.

The Catholic church also noted that SNP politicians face online threats for opposing legislation which would allow people to self-identify their gender without medical involvement. J K Rowling has boldly declared that biological sex is real to the surprise and relief of many; but Scotland seems determined to push ahead with redefining that reality.

The SNP response will not fill those of any religious belief with confidence – “We are proud of the diversity in our party and no one is failed at assessment because of their religious views.” So religious beliefs are relegated to mere views and protected only during assessment, not the whole selection process.

Political opinions and religious freedom have come into conflict before. Tim Farron stood down as leader of the liberal Democrats saying he was “torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.”

Farron argued that liberalism is founded on religious liberty and that Christianity provides the values that permit it to flourish. As society discards Christianity, we kick away the foundations of liberalism and democracy and so we cannot be surprised when liberalism stops being liberal.

In his book Dominion, Tom Holland argues that the Christian story shapes our basic view of the human person, liberal democracy and freedom of thought. Human rights don’t just hang in the ether waiting to be discovered he says – they are fruit grown on the tree of Christian faith.

There is a Victorian cartoon of a man taking an axe to a fruit tree with the caption – “Tis madness – yet how often we, To gain the fruit, cut down the tree.” To switch metaphors, we are running off the last fumes of our Judeo-Christian principles, and as the tank empties, we risk collapse from within.

For a party focused on independence, the SNP seems to hold freedom lightly. It chops down the tree at its peril. Like other parties, it declare tolerance, while being intolerant of certain views. It proclaims freedom, whilst dismissing freedom of conscience for those who disagree. The new fundamentalism demands strict adherence to the new social orthodoxy – grabbing the fruit while chopping down the tree. It leaves no common cause around which to unite.

Without the tree there will be no more fruit. Without the Christian story, there is a danger that ideas around freedom, forgiveness and even the very notion of what it is to be human will wither and die. If we as a society want the fruit, we must protect the tree.

Peter Lynas is a former barrister and UK Director of the Evangelical Alliance