Scotland's Finance Secretary has faced down claims that a Bible-believing Christian can’t become First Minister by announcing she is entering the race to succeed Nicola Sturgeon. The decision by Kate Forbes follows weekend criticism by some political activists of the beliefs of the Free Church of Scotland, of which she is a member.
It means there are now three candidates vying for the top job.
Following the shock announcement from Ms Sturgeon last week that she is stepping down after eight years, Ms Forbes said both Scotland and the SNP were "at a major crossroads".
Announcing her decision in a video on Twitter, Ms Forbes insisted she has the "vision, experience and competence to inspire voters across Scotland".
She said: "More than anything we need a leader who is bold, brave and energised, fresh-faced and ready for new challenges.
Saying someone is needed who can "unite" the SNP - which has been split recently by the controversy over reforms to the gender recognition process - she pledged to "reach out and listen".
Ms Forbes added:"Somebody who inspires your confidence as an SNP member and who inspires the confidence of the people of Scotland to vote for a better future.
"I am that leader and I want to lead our party into better days with integrity and commitment for the sake of your children and my children."
Ms Forbes is up against Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, and the former community safety minister Ash Regan, who resigned from her ministerial position in protest at the Scottish Government's gender reform legislation.
The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, Kate Forbes is at odds with others in the party - and current policy - on some social issues, including the hotly-debated gender reforms blocked by the UK Government.
Such stances could also make it difficult for the Greens, who are part of the Scottish Government after the party signed a co-operation agreement with the SNP, to work with Ms Forbes.
But there has been a backlash on social media following the targeting of Kate Forbes’ declared faith in Jesus Christ.
Prominent SNP MP and barrister Joanna Cherry KC tweeted “I wish people would stop attacking Kate Forbes for her religious faith”, while another SNP MP Carol Monaghan issued a statement saying: “Substitute a different faith into the comments about Kate online and the issue becomes clear: Kate cannot hold this position because she is Muslim. Kate cannot hold this position because she is a Jew. We are entering dark territory here.”