IN the new politics of Scotland an infantile state of permanent empathy is valued above all else.

It travels on a fear of being insufficiently chi-chi by the current arbiters of healthy thought. This season it’s the backlash against Rangers and the Orange Order and a contrived eagerness to stand with the Irish. Yet many who consider themselves to be savants in the Scottish empathy-state privately revile Irish Catholicism and its chief means of reinforcement: Catholic schools.

In Holyrood today sit two new ministers representing a party which for many years denigrated Catholic education. Among its most intolerant supporters are people who have questioned the right of Christians to hold public office. They seek validation in a Twitter posse and screech “Unclean! Unclean!” at all those they consider to be social lepers.

Today, the lepers are feminists who, until recently, were society’s most radical and successful agents for fundamental change. In the course of a few years, though, that’s been dismantled.

In Scotland, to be a woman is now an off-the-peg choice, where all the sacred and protected characteristics of womanhood are twisted into something else. And where the old words indicating distinctive sexuality and femininity are now redundant and rendered something regressive.

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In Scotland, Irish Catholics have long been mocked by these group-think progressives for their large families and portrayed as socially backward for emphasising the role of motherhood.

Yet, these faux-liberal critics did nothing to alter the state’s reactionary model of work which made it impossible for women to have careers and raise families at the same time. Instead, they were forced to sub-contract parenting to outside agencies because of workplace inflexibility and low wages.

They sought to bring the Irish into a homogenised sense of Britishness reinforced by an old, Scottish middle-class subservience to the Empire. “Ah, see those Irish with their separate religion and culture and language and family traditions. How can we make them bend the knee to the British way, especially when there are wars to be fought and lands to be conquered? We must quash their separateness.”

The great American historian and social philosopher, Christopher Lasch talked about this in his book Haven in a Heartless World: “Educators and social reformers saw that the family, especially the immigrant family, stood as an obstacle to what they conceived as social progress – in other words to homogenization and “Americanization”. The family preserved separatist religious traditions, alien languages and dialects, local lore and other traditions that retarded the growth of the political community and the national state.”

At the heart of the Scottish Government and among the political elites lurk influential people who mean to do great harm to the practice of the Catholic faith in this country. This is most often manifest in hostility to Catholic schools. Many of them rushed to condemn 100 comic-book black-shirts as they walked along Argyle Street on Sunday morning.

Yet, many of these also subscribe to the view – still prevalent in civic Scotland – that the very existence of Catholic schools contributes to anti-Catholicism. This was espoused in The Times this week by one of its columnists. The writer is not alone in this view. Similar opinions are expressed from time to time in this paper (though they at least have the advantage of being well-written) and by senior politicians.

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We know this because Catholic politicians and others who share their views about the family are routinely abused by these progressives for being the wrong sort of Christians. Just ask Lisa Cameron and Kate Forbes and Chris McEleny.

The Catholic Church currently reserves the right not to abide by recent government guidelines advising that parents aren’t informed if their child expresses a desire to change sex. Thus Catholic schools will increasingly be regarded as a place of refuge for parents of all faiths and none who don’t wish to see government interfering in the formation of their children. So what then? It’s beyond reasonable doubt that those who still believe Catholic schools to be a problem will move to force them into line.

The Catholic Church is the largest NGO (non-government organisation) provider of education in the world, according to statistics compiled last month by the St Andrews Foundation for Catholic Teacher Education. It educates 30% of the planet’s children. In Scotland, 17% of our children are Catholic, yet 24% of the nation’s children attend a Catholic school.

There’s a reason for this that goes beyond their records of excellence in disadvantaged communities. Catholic schools seek to focus on the dignity of the whole human person, a mission which is especially crucial at a time when many in government, the media and industry perceive education to be little more than a commodity to equip children for life in a capitalist society.

In a recent lecture the Catholic academic, Roisin Coll said: “This is a restricted vision of education that is not Catholic. Our schools encourage children to pursue a deeper understanding of life and with this a commitment to social justice. Their contribution to society is a positive one and should be celebrated.”

The Scottish trade union leader and political activist, Cat Boyd tweeted her disdain for this tendency to blame Catholic schools for anti-Catholicism. “I have so much more compassion and find it far easier to forgive Rangers fans singing the Famine Song than I do for unthinking attacks on faith schools by the Scottish, pearl-clutching middle classes. They’re the real root of this problem; not bloody St John’s primary up the road.”

You might even venture to suggest that the Orange Order and its sympathisers are at least honest and open about their desire to defend Protestantism and in some of their valid criticisms of what they see as theological unorthodoxy in the Church of Rome. In a diverse and enlightened society such views ought to be freely expressed without fear of prosecution, even if done so unpleasantly.

Much more sinister are Holyrood’s militant atheists who have the power to legislate not merely upon the right way of acting but on what they consider to be the right way of learning and thinking.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald