Posted Friday 17 October 2008
In an interview for the September/October 2008 edition of inspires (the magazine of the Scottish Episcopal Church) Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, speaks about his faith and describes what he sees as the role of churches in Scottish society.
He suggests that the work of inter-faith communities is helping to tackle the issue of an increasingly secular society “where the intricacies of different denominations are lost to the vast bulk of the population” and praises the Scottish Episcopal Church’s role in inter-faith relations saying “I think the Scottish Episcopal Church plays a positive, beneficial and helpful role in inter-church and inter-faith relations and that there is great solidarity developing between the faith communities in Scotland, and I’m delighted that our inter-faith structures are becoming a model for elsewhere in the world.”
In explaining what inspires him he says: “Faith inspires me. People believing in things beyond what they can touch and see seems to me to be hugely important. Also faith in extremity of people facing up to challenges, that also inspires me.
“I watched Senator Obama being interviewed recently when I was in Virginia. He was asked in the middle of an interview what it was his grandmother had taught him and he answered one brilliant word, he said ‘empathy’. So I admire empathy, I admire the ability to see beyond your own circumstances. To touch other people and to look at the world through somebody else’s point of view - to associate, to be in communion, if you like, with somebody from a different circumstance, a different background, a different point of view. I admire and am inspired by empathy and the people that have it, even if they have nothing else, they have something intensely valuable. So I admire faith and I admire empathy because that is what allows people to get through the difficult times.”