The long-term rivalry between Celtic and Rangers is further dismantling a cherished atheist belief in real time:
Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, who is facing a difficult election next month, blamed the violence narrowly on what he called a “lunatic element,” but Devine, the historian, sees a more sinister threat.
“I think it’s ironic that in a post-Christian, secular society, the problem seems to be intensifying,” he said, adding: “What’s happened over the last few days is unprecedented. There have been riots, but sectarianism in Scotland has never had this violence and criminality.”
Of course, the situation is only ironic if you still subscribe to the inaccurate notion that religion is a primary cause of group conflict and war. Even when religion happens to serve as the marker for the inter-tribal violence, that doesn’t mean it can’t be mitigating the situation.