By PETER F. ANSON
No annual event in Scotland arouses quite the same interest or obtains such extensive publicity in our newspapers as the General Assembly of the Established Kirk in Edinburgh. Even the War in Spain was given a back place last month; the news value of the long, and it must be confessed, often extremely tedious, deliberations of Presbyterian ministers being considered more important.
Lord Kinnaird was the High Commissioner this year, and the opening ceremony, broadcast by the B.B.C. on all Scottish stations, was carried out with full traditional pomp and pageantry.
But once the delegates had settled down to their deliberations the atmosphere seems to have changed to one of uneasineas, not to say depression—the general feeling expressed being that the Established Church in Scotland is becoming increasingly alienated from the everyday life of the nation, and that it is high time that active steps are taken to deal with the problem of leakage.
So it was insisted that the only way to win back young people is for the Church to go after them; to " hike with the hikers, and to bike with bikers." There must be an increased use made of the cinema aS a means for imparting religious instruction.
it cannot be said that the Established .Kirk is not anxious to keep abreast of modern civilisation (so called); in fact the general tendency would seem to favour a gradual relaxation of moral obligations, e.g.. in approving of greater facilities for divorce.
Practical questions were not ignored in this year's Assembly, including the attitude of the Church towards Peace and War, better and increased housing accommodation in industrial areas, and the provision
of new churches in the suburbs of cities and towns, The Free Kirk
Very different in tone was the General Assembly of the Free Church, which takes place in Edinburgh simultaneously with the deliberations of the Established Church.
Here, as usual, the old-fashioned Calvinism and hatred of Rome appeared again and again. We were informed by one speaker that the " biggest enemy of Bible service and evangelical work today. was not materialism. or even paganism, but ROMANISM " and that the Church of Rome has the "strength of cunning" and is now taking " full advantage of broadcast facilities in this country," as well as having "won over to its side a large section of the public Press."
"Rather an Atheist Than a Papist"
Another delegate went so far as to confess that he himself " would rather be an atheist playing with childish trifles than a member of that Church which was the only enemy that must be taken in all seriousness."
Industrial development in the Highlands was also looked upon with disapproval by certain Free Kirk ministers. since it would probably be a means of introducing an alien (i.e., Catholic) population with disastrous consequences to many things which were held dear in the religious life of the Highlands.
Only a few weeks ago these same Free Kirk ministers agreed to do all in their power to stop recruiting if Sunday games were allowed by the Army.
So it will be realised that the spirit of Knox and Calvin still prevails in certain sections of Scottish Presbyterians, and what antagonism Catholics in this country have to put up with in their relations with fellow citizens.