Catholics suffer more religious hate crimes in Scotland, says politician pushing government intervention

A member of the Scottish Parliament is calling on her fellow politicians to recognize that there is a growing anti-Catholic problem in the country and she is also urging them to draw out proposals to address these hate crimes.

(REUTERS/Russell Cheyne)Anti-Catholic sentiments are reportedly rising in Scotland, hence a politician is calling for action.

Speaking at Scotland's parliament in Holyrood, Elaine Smith pointed out that recent incidents of hate crimes aren't sectarian-related but rather directed against Catholics. The MP also cited a government report stating 57 percent of religious hate crimes victimized Catholics more than any other religious groups.

As Smith questioned her fellow members at the Parliament about targeted actions to combat this rising trend, Peter Kearney of the Scottish Catholic Media Office analyzed the situation and concluded that politicians won't likely see the issue as anti-Catholicism, thus it won't receive specific actions.

He stated that while the Scottish government usually establishes laws to affect public behavior, such as banning texting while driving to curb traffic accidents, religious hate crimes wouldn't receive the same concern. The government still regards these crimes as a sectarian issue.

Besides, churchgoers in Scotland comprise just 7.2 percent of the population and majority is above 65 years of age. The figures suggested to Kearney that non-churchgoers instigate the animosity against Catholics but then their motivations aren't clear.

Catholics comprise just 15 percent of Scotland's population. The anti-Catholicism sentiment might have stemmed from centuries of old beliefs and practices since the religious group has been largely marginalized against Protestants in Scotland since the 16th century.

Media practitioners in Scotland concur that the animosity between Protestants and Catholics still exist today, despite reformative laws created in the late 1700s. They continue to report various problems on Catholic discrimination. Annabelle Ewing of the Ministry of Safety and Community Affairs, however, digressed and stated that her agency looks into these religious hate crimes seriously and has been working with different churches to deal with the problems.