Moderator meets First Minister and calls for end of the term ‘Wee Frees’


The Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, Rev Dr Iain D Campbell, met with First Minister Alex Salmond at a meeting of Scotland’s religious leaders and continued to voice his concern about the redefinition of marriage.

At the meeting in Edinburgh Dr Campbell vigorously opposed any potential redefinition of marriage reaffirming his view that the nature of marriage as between a man and a woman.

He commented: “It was helpful to have this opportunity to meet with the First Minister to talk about different issues facing the nation, and he listened with great interest to what the Churches had to say.

“While welcoming the safeguards of conscience promised to churches and marriage celebrants, I remain deeply concerned at the Scottish Government’s proposals to redefine marriage and the impact this will have on the social fabric of our country.

“I would continue to urge Mr Salmond to drop these plans which the consultation process has shown to be deeply divisive and unpopular.

“Whatever the resultant union when two men or two women live together, it is not a marriage.”

Discussions also focussed on the role of Scotland’s churches in communities, and the Free Church Moderator shared news of various projects across the denomination – including the Road to Recovery programme across the Highlands and Islands and the Seeds for Hope project at Rosskeen.

The final item on the agenda was the independence referendum, and the First Minister pledged that Scots would have freedom of religion in an independent nation, adding that more concrete proposals would be forthcoming.

Dr Campbell commented: “The Free Church awaits with great interest further detail about the place of religion in an independent Scotland.”

He added: “The prospect of a wholly secular Scotland, where Christianity is simply tolerated and not foundational to the good of society, would be one of grave concern.”

Meanwhile Dr Campbell has also called for a freeze on the use of the term ‘Wee Frees’,  which he branded an “unnecessary slur” on the denomination.

The minister of Point Free Church on the Isle of Lewis said: “I’m not so sure that ‘Wee’ is a suitable nickname for a denomination that is represented throughout Scotland, has its main offices in Scotland’s capital, maintains a consistent presence on the mission field, and organises camps for hundreds of children each year.”

The Moderator continued: “It seems that once you put the label ‘Wee Free’ onto something, it can justifiably be the butt of any joke, and truth doesn’t come into it.

“It’s a bit frustrating when the wider media churns out the most ridiculous and meaningless names for a church; I can’t imagine any other religious body receiving the kind of treatment with which the Free Church has had to put up for years.”

The term was coined in 1900 in reference to the Free Church members who chose not to merge with the United Free Church of Scotland.