Looking at the news headlines, you could be forgiven for thinking that Scotland is in the grip of an outbreak of sectarianism of truly epidemic proportions. Last year, the number of religious hate-crimes in Scotland rose by 10% – with offences against Catholics and Protestants accounting for a staggering 95% of all incidents.

Meanwhile, both Celtic and Rangers have been hauled over the coals by Uefa for sectarian chanting by their supporters while the pipe-bombs posted to Celtic manager Neil Lennon are still fresh in the memory.

But the relationship between column centimetres and reality is seldom a one-to-one correspondence.

Scotland’s religious strife looks so great largely because the country’s authorities have radically shifted their approach to sectarianism in recent years.

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