Following a press and online social media frenzy about the Bible-based beliefs of SNP leadership hopeful, Kate Forbes, the head of her church general assembly in Scotland has pushed back on what he called "a baying mob".
Speaking to Premier Christian News, the Moderator-designate of the Free Church of Scotland, Rev Iver Martin, renewed his church's criticism of 'anti-Christian intolerance' since Ms Forbes announced her hopes to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister.
Rev Martin told Premier that people of principle could be deterred from entering politics.
"You have a real danger here of excluding people who have enormous talent and ability and who could play a vital role in public life." He added: "They'll be scared off because of the fact that their personal religious views are not acceptable to a baying mob. And that's what it is. "
Ms Forbes lost several high-profile supporters earlier this week after she revealed she would have voted against same-sex marriage if she had been an MSP when the legislation went through Holyrood.
She went on to say that having a child outside of marriage is "wrong". And said she didn't agree with aspects of the SNP's gender recognition bill.
Many MSPs and Scottish ministers then withdrew their support for her leadership bid, while Deputy First Minister John Swinney stated that as a "man of deep Christian faith" himself, he couldn't share her views.
The row over Ms Forbes's views has dominated the early days of the leadership campaign.
In a published statement, the Free Church of Scotland declared: "Kate Forbes is standing on the basis of her policies - the fact that she is being criticised for her Christian convictions shows a level of bigotry that has no place in a pluralistic and diverse society."
The statement also confirmed the church's "historic Biblical position on marriage" that it should only be between a man and woman.
Rev Martin is the Principal of Edinburgh Theological Seminary, where he teaches Scottish Church History. He told Premier Christian News that an independent Scotland must reflect the nation's story: "The last thing we want is a Scotland that we don't recognise as Scotland, a clean sheet of paper which essentially would amount to a brand new country that's not Scotland at all."
He said Scotland is a product of its Christian heritage, which Kate Forbes reflects: "The Scotland that I grew up in is a Scotland that espouses common sense values, which are based on the Bible, or laws are grounded on the ten commandments, or a judicial system is all is built on a morality and an ethic, which essentially is Judeo Christian. Everybody recognises that."
He continued: "And what she's been castigated for is, is the fact that she's holding on to something which is traditional, and which is part of our culture, and has been for centuries."
Ms Forbes is running against Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and former community safety minister Ash Regan for the leadership.