KENNY MacAskill in his very interesting and stimulating article (“I might not ‘do religion’ but I praise the work of our faiths”, The Herald, February 16) speaks of the "the stultification and suffocation brought about by undiluted Calvinism". I wonder what he means by "undiluted Calvinism"?

Is he aware of what Calvinism actually is? Of course there was some "suffocation" but I suspect it has been greatly exaggerated ... and pales into insignificance compared with the suffocation caused by undiluted nationalism and statism.

Perhaps we should ask: what have the Calvinists ever done for us? Apart from being catalysts for education, democracy and the Enlightenment?

I suspect that Mr MacAskill is just indulging in a few prejudices of his own, safe in the knowledge that very few people "who matter" would claim to be Calvinists in todays "progressive" Scotland.

I realise that the soft cuddly version of Christianity which he praises in his article is precisely what the politicians want to see – churches which act solely as glorified social work agencies and social clubs for OAPs, and so diminish the responsibility of governments to provide for the poor; but forget their call to be a prophetic witness to Jesus and his Word. When the church just becomes a "spiritual" arm of the state, then it will inevitably decline. I like my Christianity in the same way I like my whisky, undiluted.

Watered-down Christianity is weak, insipid and tasteless. Politicians will love it, but when the salt loses its saltiness, nothing remains for it except to be thrown out. What Scotland needs is not a church patronised by politicians who don't understand what the Gospel is, but churches where the Word of God is honoured and Christ is proclaimed. A radical renewal and revival of the church in Scotland will be a challenge to the powers that be, and a blessing to all the people of Scotland.

David A Robertson,

Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland,

St Peters Free Church,

4 St Peter Street,


IT is really sad to read Kenny MacAskill’s essay that further closure of churches will be a loss to community in so many ways; that “the loss of a church can leave an empty building.

In America, churches are popping up like mushrooms (contributions are tax-exempt). Bible colleges prepare pastors to admonish their flocks that what counts is “faith”. Young couples with children prefer to attend non-denominational places of worship where they can “dress-down” (jeans and sneakers) so that after services they can go straight to a sports event. Evangelical Christian cChurches are thriving because they offer community services (volunteer work is de rigueur) to fulfill the needs of the congregations.

In New Hope, where I live, the small Methodist church has become our popular free library. The Presbyterian church on Main Street (with gorgeous stained-glass windows) is a well-known steak house. The Catholic church became too small and the diocese built a large one on the outskirts of town. The old one now houses Borough Hall and the police department. The abandoned two-room school house has become a Jewish “shul” (meeting house).

Americans are very inventive. Real estate motto: Location location.

Olga Pitcairn,

29 Arden Way, New Hope, Pennsylvania 18938, United States.