An island minister has caused controversy after suggesting that the 201 sailors who died in the Iolaire disaster were “sinners”.
The Reverend Alasdair J. Macleod minister at Knock and Point Free Church (Continuing) on Lewis made the remarks in a piece published in the local Rudhach newsletter.
In the article ‘Rescued from the Iolaire’, Mr Macleod – whose grandfather Donald Macleod survived the horrific ordeal – said the tragedy was “deserved”.
He wrote: “We do not deserve to escape judgment; we have no right to expect deliverance. We have sinned continually and repeatedly against God, and earned His wrath. Tragedies like the loss of the Iolaire are nothing less than we deserve as sinners against a Holy God. We have no excuse, no defence, no answer to the judgement of God.”
More than 900 copies of this newsletter have since been distributed across the community, not far from where the boat went down.
Matt Bruce, a member of the magazine’s editorial committee said he could understand why individuals had taken exception to the comments.
He said: “I can understand why people are upset.
“There is huge public involvement in commemorating the event which shows what a massive impact it would have had 100 years ago.
But he added: “I don’t condemn it. It reflects one of the churches here.”
Reflecting on his remarks, Rev Macleod told the Sun newspaper he was not referring directly to those onboard the stricken vessel but to humanity in its entirety.
He said: “I think it’s just a misunderstanding.
“I’m not intending to speak about the people on the Iolaire as individuals — I’m speaking about all humanity.”