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Faiths that can shake the world

Duncan Forrester, vice-convener of the Kirk's education committee and a former divinity lecturer, said young Scots had to understand the role of religion in the wider world. Outside north-western Europe it was highly significant.

"We have to understand and respect people who are very different in their beliefs and we have to experience the worship which is at the heart of other faiths. We have to expose children to Islam and Buddhism and so on," Professor Forrester said.

He was surprised year after year that some divinity students were "amazed and disturbed" by what they found on attending Catholic mass as part of their studies. It did not fit the stereotype of mature, experienced people.

Mr Aitken emphasised that the leaders of Israel and Palestine both practise their faith, "as does Osama bin Laden, theologically from another planet". Each of them acknowledged the influence of divinity in their lives and took part in worship.

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