The secularization of Scotland

Steve Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The history of religion in Scotland is interesting for the light it casts on the links between secularisation and secularism. The creation of secular social institutions was not the work of secularists but was an unanticipated result of Protestant schisms originally intended to purify the dominant religion so as to justify its imposition. The diversity thus created forced the growth of a secular public sphere. It also prevented a coherent nativist response to Irish Catholic immigration and thus encouraged Catholic integration. Over the twentieth century, Scotland changed from being a country in which most people had some association with organised religion into one in which the population divided radically into small groups of religious people and a majority who had no association at all with organised religion. Neither the new religions of the 1960s, nor New Age spirituality, nor the charismatic movement have made any significant inroads. Prospects for the conversion of the non-religious seem remote, when religion is now carried primarily by demographically or ethnically distinct populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-206
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal for the Study of the Christian Church
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • secularisation
  • schism
  • anti-Catholicism
  • conversion


Dive into the research topics of 'The secularization of Scotland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this