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Christian light of hope can overcome toxic politics says MSP Kate Forbes

by Donna Birrell

Senior Member of the Scottish Parliament Kate Forbes has been speaking to Premier, about the main issues affecting politics today and how her Christian faith informs her decision-making. 

This week the Scottish Parliament condemned unreservedly Russia's violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.

At a debate- after President Putin launched military action against the country- members called for the strongest, most punitive and severe actions to be taken by the international community, against President Putin and Russia.

Kate Forbes, who is Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy told Premier: “These developments are absolutely horrific and appalling.

"If we don't stop him now, as an international community, then I think the implications not just for Ukraine, but for elsewhere in that area are quite concerning.”

All legal Covid restrictions in Scotland are being lifted on March 21, in a move that is being welcomed by Ms Forbes: “There are a lot of challenges now, but also a lot of hope and optimism.

"Alongside the lifting of restrictions, businesses are feeling a lot more optimistic about their future.

"GDP stats confirm that our growth is still above pre-pandemic levels.

"But that forgets the new challenges - the cost of living crisis, the pressures on households, the pressures on families.

"We’ve got some very stark figures, in terms of the number of families who could end up in extreme fuel poverty in Scotland, as a result of the price cap being increased on the first of April.

"So there is a cumulative impact, of increasing costs, inflation, energy pricing, and geopolitics.”

Ms Forbes, who is a member of the Free Church of Scotland says churches are providing valuable support across the country: “Churches are already at the forefront when it comes to food banks, supporting families in need and being welcoming communities.

"At a time like this, the church needs to step up and stand up even more visibly than ever before.

"Many households, particularly an older generation who are fuel poor, are generally not inclined to raise their hand and raise their head above the parapet to look for help.

"So it's our responsibility to go and find them and offer that support.”

In 2018 she called on the government to let children practise religious belief in school without mockery, saying: "I wanted to note that pupils should be allowed to explore, develop and understand the diversity of religious faith in Scotland, because if they can understand it in school, you will hope that as they go through the rest of their life, they will be tolerant of people who believe that things are different to them.” 

Asked by Premier this week, whether there are challenges being a Christian in politics, the MSP who has represented Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch since 2016 said: “I think all of us as Christians in our particular lines of work, will have to contend with areas where our own personal views are odds.

"But I'm absolutely and totally persuaded by the need for Christians to be in the political square.

"We know that in politics – and I don't think it's just unique to Scotland -  the political environment and political discourse has become more toxic than ever before.

“It's bleak.

"People are in despair, people are demoralised.

"What a time to offer hope.

"What a time to be a light.

"What a time to try and point to an alternative, than just this never-ending toxic discourse that drags people down and is fuelled by anger and vitriol.

"We need people who have a hope and a confidence and an identity that's bigger than just the immediate political debates of the day.” 

Ms Forbes says she is inspired by the courage of Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6:22): “We all know how difficult it is politically at the moment and how toxic the discourse, so I try to  demonstrate that there's a different way of doing things.

"But I need help and wisdom and courage to do that.”

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