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REX/Ray Tang
UK News

Christian elected leader of Scottish Labour

He took 55.77 per cent of the vote in the contest against MSPs Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack.

Mr Murphy has been vocal about his Catholic belief and his support for faith schools in Scotland.

In the past he's spoke about the abuse he's received for his religion: "The only abuse I've ever had in elections isn't about my policy, isn't about the Labour Party's record.

"Just in the last few weeks, there's something particular going on when I got assaulted because of my faith and because I'm pretty public about my faith; it's not a secret.

"So for people to shout at you in the street, simply because of the faith that you follow, I think it's a throwback to a dark period. Scotland should be pretty clear this is a shameful, dark underbelly of our culture."

Last week the Free Church of Scotland condemned the Scottish Secular Society (SSS) for what it called 'disturbing' comments in relation to Mr Murphy's faith.

The moderator-elect of the Free Church Rev David Robertson said: "The Scottish Secular Society have posted several stories about 'Catholic fanatic/extremist/Pope Benedict fan' Jim Murphy over the past few days.

"I find it particularly disturbing this constant referral to Jim Murphy as Roman Catholic - what does that have to do with anything? It comes worryingly close to the kind of anti-Catholic sectarianism that plagued the West of Scotland - perhaps it still does.

"It is of no relevance or interest to me that a particular political candidate is Roman Catholic or not. Mr Murphy should be judged on his political views and abilities, not what church he belongs to. It is ironic that of all groups the Scottish Secular Society continues to highlight religious affiliation as though this were somehow a disqualifying factor."

The SSS said it had no problem with Mr Murphy's beliefs "but a very great problem with the way in which we fear they will influence his political decisions."

It added: "In particular, we don't approve of support for the idea that bishops can be put in charge of sex education in Catholic schools.

"We are also concerned that he will defend privileges for organised religion, segregating children on the basis of their parents' religion in denominational schools with separate staff rooms and entrances. We are utterly opposed to sectarianism in any shape or form. "

Mr Murphy said: "I believe that people should be allowed to celebrate their faith free from harassment and that those who don't follow any religion or religious faith should also have that right to express their views openly.

"No-one should be singled out because of their attitude to faith."

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