Religion in The Outer Hebrides

Religion In The Outer Hebrides

From the introduction of Christianity to the Outer Hebrides to the present day, the Christian religion (in its various denominations) has been central to island life. Prior to Christianity's arrival, several sites around the islands have been conjectured to be linked with pagan worship, such as the Callanish Stones.

The Christian religion has deep roots in the Outer Hebrides, but owing mainly to the different allegiances of the clans in the past, the people in the northern islands (Lewis, Harris, North Uist) have historically been predominantly Protestant, and those of the southern islands (Benbecula, South Uist, Barra) predominantly Roman Catholic. There are also small Episcopalian congregations in Lewis, though many of their members originate outside the islands.

The northern parts of the Outer Hebrides (particularly Lewis and Harris) have been described as the last bastion of fundamentalist Calvinism in Britain with large numbers of inhabitants belonging to the Free Church of Scotland or the still more conservative Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Services in the Free Church, the Free Presbyterian Church and some congregations of the Church of Scotland do not use instrumental music or any songs other than the metrical psalms.

It has also generally been considered unacceptable for people to appear in church improperly dressed, although this is slowly changing. Violations of this nature might include the failure by women to wear a hat, or trousers being worn instead of a skirt, or the wearing of informal clothing such as jeans. In December 2005 the local council refused to conduct ceremonies for same-sex couples wishing to register under the Civil Partnerships Act 2004.

Read more about Religion In The Outer Hebrides:  Catholicism in The Hebrides, Religion in Lewis, Religion in Harris

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