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Scottish Gods

Religion in Modern Scotland 1900-2012

Steve Bruce

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How much has Scotland’s religious landscape changed in the last century, and why?

Steve Bruce here presents a highly readable account of the changing nature and place of religion in Scotland in an increasingly irreligious society. In 1900 Scotland was a largely Presbyterian country and the Christian churches were a major social force. Now less than 10 per cent of Scots attend church. As religion has declined, it has become more varied: Catholicism has grown as have Charismatic Christian fellowships; Buddhist and Hindu themes have ‘easternised’ our religious vocabulary; a significant Muslim population has become established; and a notable number of Scots now pursue personal spiritual interests in forms which would once have been dismissed as pagan. Both this decline and the diversification deserve explanation.

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List of Tables
1. The Cast List
2. Three Islands Compared
3. Scots Catholic Growth
4. The Irony of Catholic Success
5. Scotland Orange and Protestant
6. The Post-War Kirk
7. Serious Religion in a Secular Culture
8. From Community to Association: the New Churches
9. Tibetans in a Shooting Lodge
10. The English on the Moray Riviera
11. Scots Muslims
12. Sex and Politics
Statistical Appendix.

About the Author

Steve Bruce was born in Edinburgh and educated at the Queen Victoria School, Dunblane. He studied sociology and religious studies at the University of Stirling. He taught at The Queen’s University, Belfast, from 1978 to 1991 when he became Professor of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.


Whilst the author’s arguments on sectarianism should be familiar to any well-informed reader, the originality of this book lies in melding such material with the breadth of the historical perspective and the range of topics. This gives a very original mix, from sectarianism to shamanism, from the Auld Licht Anti-Burghers to Findhorn’s fairies . . . this book represents ‘the latest word’ in the critical study of religion in Scotland.

- Michael Rosie, University of Edinburgh