A Scottish lawmaker is being applauded by Christian leaders in Scotland for bringing awareness to the plight of children who are being bullied for their religious beliefs there, including saying grace.
Kate Forbes said her constituents in the cities of Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch brought cases of religious bullying to her attention.
Forbes told the story of a five-year-old who would say grace before lunchtime and “was getting questioned by other people” and staff for the habit.
“She was just replicating what she would normally do at home and I think it’s right that children are allowed to express their faith in that way,” Forbes told Premier U.K., a Christian radio program.
She added that the child was made to feel uncomfortable for expressing her faith.
“A five-year-old saying grace before lunch is not hurting anyone and she should be free to do that,” she said before the Scottish Parliament.
“There is a perception that Christianity is a dominant group in Scotland so therefore there is probably little sympathy for my suggestion that people are bullied for their faith,” Forbes added. “But while there may once have been institutionalized Christianity, that has since disappeared. Church attendance is declining and it is unusual for young people to express a Christian faith.”
Forbes presented the example of two teenage boys who were being bullied and called “Bible bashers.”
“People should be allowed to be themselves in school,” she told Premier.
“I do think it is becoming more difficult for people with faith and that means that the schools and authorities have to do more to make sure schools are an inclusive environment,” she said.
Forbes challenged Parliament to protect religious liberty.
“What we need is to create environments where there is no hostility to people who are different but an understanding and welcome of difference,” she said. “Five-year-olds should be allowed to say a wee quick grace before lunch if they want to.”
“Freedom of religious belief is an important feature of Scottish life that must also apply in schools,” John Swinney, the deputy first minister of Scotland said in a statement.