Jim McHarg, Grand Master of the Orange Order in Scotland, recently said: “Nobody can put their finger on what sectarianism actually means.”
Well, let’s direct that finger to the Orange walk as it streamed past Catholic churches in Glasgow at the weekend with no other motive than menace.
Last week, one of Scotland’s top police officers said that it is time our country dealt with sectarianism – and given he worked in Northern Ireland for 27 years, he knows it when he sees it.
Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said he was surprised at the level of religious hatred in this country, which paints a grim picture of how low we have stooped.
There was more than a hint of frustration in his voice, when he said we were too immersed in trying to define sectarianism, instead of concentrating on tackling it.
We know what sectarianism is because an intransigent and vocal minority are still shoving it down our throats in parochial patches of Scotland’s towns and cities.
What is mystifying is why we still tolerate its manifestation each year in an Orange jamboree of bowler hats and cacophonous drumming.
For a city in the international spotlight with COP26 it is, as Glaswegians would say, a pure riddy.
McHarg says the marches aren’t anti-Catholic and the flute band played: Believe it if you like.
We can’t ban the marches but Glasgow City Council could and should have them redirected away from Catholic churches, which they walk past only to intimidate.
Glasgow City Council has argued that redirecting the marches would be a greater inconvenience to city dwellers but if the alt-right were parading past mosques, they would have acted long before now.
On Saturday, police condemned “outbreaks of racist and sectarian singing” at the march which 800 expensive police officers had to man, mid-pandemic.
We have had priests spat on, parts of the city set ablaze, so it was comparatively tame.
But Orange marches are only part of the problem, the rest being anti-protestant hate, Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism.
It’s all the more nonsensical given that the number of people who regularly attend church services in Scotland has fallen by more than half over the last 30 years. Our country has outgrown religion faster than the intolerance it can breed.
It is absurd to suggest that sectarianism in Scotland has anything to do with genuine loyalty to religion any more, and there was probably only a handful of regular churchgoers at Saturday’s parade.
They might know the words of The Sash but don’t ask them to quote the Bible. Religious bigotry has been taught at the knee in Scotland for centuries and the cycle spins on, unbroken.
Did you know you can keep up to date with the latest news by signing up to our daily newsletter?
We send a morning and lunchtime newsletter covering the latest headlines every day.
We also send coronavirus updates at 5pm on weekdays, and a round up of the week's must-read stories on Sunday afternoons.
Signing up is simple, easy and free.
You can pop your email address into the sign up box above, hit Subscribe and we'll do the rest.
Alternatively, you can sign up and check out the rest of our newsletters here.
The influx of large numbers of Irish immigrants in the 19th century led to the establishment of Catholic schools, and the religious divide is still entrenched by them.
The majority of the kids being taught in Catholic schools will turn their back on the church in adulthood or, at best, attend chapel only for weddings, christenings and funerals.
The Catholic Church doesn’t even have a hold in Ireland and Italy any more.
Scotland’s children should all attend secular schools, where they can study the history of all religions and practise the one of their choosing beyond the school gates.
When I was a kid, I was told I could practise whichever religion I chose, which went awry in my born-again, evangelical six months when I was convinced my heathen family were going to burn in hell.
Sectarianism is born out of ignorance and fear of the other, which is an issue tackled very effectively in the playground if
adults would allow it.
If we really are a multi-cultural and tolerant nation, our schools should be the melting pots from which tolerance bubbles up naturally.
Separating our children on religious grounds is primitive in a little country which prides itself on being progressive.
If we really want to rid Scotland of sectarianism, education is the place to start.
I've had my Phil of the royal sycophants
Set your alarm for 9pm tonight to ensure you are not watching BBC1 where the Royals will be brown-nosing the late Prince Philip.
The documentary was filmed originally as a tribute for Philip’s 100th birthday and has insights from royals and a variety of sycophants. Expect great revelations about how Philip used to get his grandchildren to squirt mustard all over the ceiling, but prepare for amnesia over his racism and bigotry.
We can only sympathise with the poor skivvy who must have been scrubbing mustard from ceilings while perched on a wobbly ladder. What a jolly jape.
The Queen has released personal cine films of the royals, but any photographs of Philip with his Nazi sisters will remain firmly in the album.
Peter Phillips recalls how his grandfather used to get frustrated by technology, denouncing various machinery as “bloody stupid”, which must have given any nearby foreigners a break. The BBC should remember it isn’t under the yoke of the royals and the aristocracy any more and it really shouldn’t be a platform for the deification of an ignorant bigot. Philip was an embarrassment, who is best forgotten so thank heavens for Netflix.
Trunks and temptation
Daniel Craig is right – a woman shouldn’t play Bond.
Surely there must be strong roles for women without slipping into Bond’s sexy wee trunks.
Tempting a thought though that is.
Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond. Sign up to our daily newsletterhere.