Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland
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The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is one of Scotland's more extreme Protestant Christian denominations, known to its enemies as the Wee Wee Frees to distinguish themselves from the slightly less extreme Free Church of Scotland (Wee Frees). They don't really like anything, and they're not shy of saying that.
Doctrinally they are opposed to Christmas, Easter, Roman Catholics, music in church, any Bible except the King James Version, hymns other than the Psalms, written prayer books, church choirs, religious art, crucifixes, crosses, and either working or having fun on Sunday.
The history of Christianity in Scotland is a bewildering list of schisms and mergers. The origin of the Wee Wee Frees goes back to reformist efforts in a 19th century denomination, the Free Church of Scotland, which had split from the established Church of Scotland in 1843. In 1892 the Free Church began to relax their adherence to the Calvinist Westminster Confession, as a move towards merging with the United Presbyterian Church (at the time the third largest Presbyterian church, whose history went back to earlier schisms).
This did not go down well with a few Highlanders who were perfectly happy with all the insane contradictions about predestination and God choosing who went to Heaven no matter what they did. In 1893, Reverend Donald MacFarlane from the island of Raasay and Reverend Donald MacDonald from the remote fishing village of Shieldaig left the Free Church to form the new Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which would be doctrinally pure and properly Calvinist with no backsliding. In the years that followed they were joined by a few other congregations. Meanwhile most of the Free Church merged with the United Presbyterian Church to form the United Free Church of Scotland. However this time a relatively large minority, basically consisting of most of its Highland congregations, stayed out and became the Wee Frees. The Free Presbyterian Church considering but ultimately declining a merger with the Wee Frees.
So the Free Presbyterian Church trundled along on its own until 1989. Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who was Lord Advocate, one of the most senior figures in the Scottish legal system, was for some reason a member of the church (maybe he really liked laws no matter who was imposing them). In 1988 he made an unfortunate decision that made God really angry: he went to the funeral of a Catholic judge, Lord Wheatley. Since this was only one step away from stripping naked at a Satanic mass, and wasn't a first offence as he had attended another Catholic funeral two years previously, Mackay was suspended from the Wee Wee Frees. He had several supporters in the Church, who were generally upset with excessively strict church governance, and they split from the Wee Wee Frees and formed the Associated Presbyterian Churches.
The Church has inexplicably still not exploded under the weight of 21st century life. As well as congregations in Scotland (mainly in the Highlands), it has a number of congregations internationally:
- Several in that beacon of tolerance, Zimbabwe
- A few in New Zealand
- Two in Australia, in Grafton and Sydney
- Chesley, Ontario, Canada, the modestly self-described "Nicest Town Around"
- Santa Fe, Texas, USA
- Odessa, Ukraine
- Broadstairs, Kent, England, an otherwise pleasant seaside resort
It has 45 congregations worldwide and an estimated 1200 members.
They are Presbyterian and strictly Calvinist, adhering to the full Westminster Confession of Faith. They don't celebrate Christmas or Easter, because the Bible doesn't mention them. Standing for prayer is really important, and the Sabbath should be used exclusively for worship and contemplating God, not for work (except the necessary or merciful) or fun (in accordance with the 4th commandment).
Their worship involves unaccompanied singing of psalms only, without hymns, without organs or piano, and certainly no contemporary Christian music with guitars, ugh… we can all agree that sucks. They explain this: "we meet first and foremost to glorify God, not primarily to meet with one another, and not at all to entertain the congregation"; instead worship should be orderly and based in scripture. They're also opposed to charismatic practices like Pentecostalism, and rather than following a written liturgy they believe prayer should be extemporised and come from the heart. They exclusively use the King James Version of the Bible in church. They also take very seriously the prohibition of graven images, even banning crosses from church, let alone pictures.
As events in 1989 show, they are really opposed to Roman Catholicism (they hold the doctrine of Papacy as Antichrist). They write regular letters to the British Royal Family telling them off for going to Catholic masses.
However they have never condemned the use of contraceptives by married couples, they were one of the first churches to condemn apartheid, and they elected a black moderator back in 1963.