Alex Salmond: I ‘prefer’ people of faith

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

Scotland’s former First Minister Alex Salmond is under fire – after claiming he “prefers” religious people to “people of no faith”.

The Scottish National Party MP for Gordon, who stepped down as First Minister last year following the independence referendum, made the claims on a video with a Church of Scotland chaplain, Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie.

Asked about the role of the Church in society, he said: “I am biased of course because I am a Church of Scotland adherent and I prefer people of faith to people of no faith or people who have lost their faith.

“All denominations have a key role to play in society and we are very fortunate in Scotland because we have a tremendous ability, among religions and denominations, to come together and support good causes.”

One atheist Twitter critic hit back: “I prefer people who aren’t Alex Salmond to Alex Salmond”.

He did also pay tribute to humanists for their work around the Glasgow Commonwealth Games – though it’s unclear how they qualify as “people of faith”.

The Church of Scotland has been increasingly bitterly divided in recent years on the issues of same-sex marriage and gay clergy.

The Kirk’s General Assembly formally approved plans earlier this year to allow gay clergy, voting by 309 to 182 in favour of the proposals.

However, following the decision a number of churches have split away or disaffiliated – while a group of 74 ministers and elders in the Church of Scotland have formally dissented from the decision.

While First Minister, Alex Salmond oversaw the passage of same-sex marriage into law – though it was opposed by his own local vicar and many religious figures.

Writing for PinkNews after the equal marriage bill passed, he wrote: “I believe that Tuesday 4th February 2014 will be remembered as one of the proudest days in the history of Scotland.

“It was a day we took an enormous step towards being the kind of country we want to be – a country that not only believes in equality and fairness, but one in which those values are weaved into the very fabric of our society.

“This is a bill about equality, but perhaps more importantly than that it is about love – the love between a couple, regardless of sexuality, belief or background.

“It cannot be right that two people are denied the right to have their love enshrined in the institution of marriage, purely on the basis of their gender or their sexuality. That is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand in a truly tolerant society.”