Scotland's First Minister candidate has always been public about her faith. She is clear, thoughtful, kind in her articulation. And she understands the consequences.
Kate Forbes is both next level and just like many other Jesus followers, navigating faith in a world that has less understanding of what is means to be a Christian.
Her views are in line with the majority of Christians globally and historically. She has always been public about her Christian faith.
She is clear, thoughtful, gracious and kind in her articulation and understands the consequences.
She learned from Tim Farron to engage head on. She was honest and articulate. She was nuanced about personal beliefs and their impact on policy, things she would try to change (gender reform), things she wouldn’t (redef of marriage) and conscience issues (assisted suicide).
Responses vary. Some see no place for her views in a “progressive society” (whatever that means). Some in this camp are blatantly intolerant, some subtly intolerant (she can have her views but keep them private) and some religiously illiterate (surprised her faith impacts her life)
But media coverage has been interesting. Kate doesn’t fit their mould so while some are hostile quite a lot seem intrigued.
She has responded directly and as some of the initial social media response to her was so harsh, she is actually getting a hearing.
There is lots more to say but how do we respond.
First, please pray for Kate. She is doing what lots of Christians do every day, but the spotlight on her is a little more intense. She’s also a new mum, still supposed to be on maternity leave. Pray for protection, peace and wisdom.
Second, pray for Scotland. This has sparked a national conversation. Pray for individuals and church leaders that this will open up spaces to talk more openly about Jesus and faith. Pray for courage as people are asked or see opportunities to follow Kate’s lead.
Third, I pray this will be an opportunity for all of us to be inspired by Kate to speak openly about the most important relationship in our lives. To talk about Jesus and what it means to follow him. To be braver and kinder as we like to say at the UK Evangelical Alliance.
Neutrality is a myth. Everyone has a worldview and every politician is guided by something: faith, progressive ideas, the markets, nationalism etc.
Our society claims to want honesty and integrity from our politicians, but when we get it, we aren’t so sure.
Can a Hindu or atheist PM represent a largely (48%) Christian country, can a gay MP represent Christian constituents, can a Christian MP represent gay constituents, can a Muslim MP represent Jewish constituents etc? Of course.
Is there a glass ceiling for those of faith? In the minds of some yes. That is in part their problem, they are being intolerant.
But we also need to do a better job explaining what we believe. Sometimes we make it easy by using clumsy language or ignoring the context.
We are living in an exciting missional moment, there is real openness in this chaotic and contested moment, in part because capitalism, progressivism, nominal Christianity and a default agnosticism aren’t working. Coherence and a shared social conscience are at risk.
But we are also living in a challenging discipleship moment, we have been weak on formation, and frankly, culture has to often been better.
As the questions continue, we have a better story, but if we don’t know it and live into and out of it, then its not much use to us. A thin faith won’t survive.
We need a living relationship with Jesus, church communities of conviction that welcome and shape and form us, leaders who model faithfulness, language that provokes, art and music that inspires and the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Peter Lynas is Director of the UK Evangelical Alliance.