I HAVE never really been a fan of Tim Farron. There is something about his churlish Remoaning that annoys me. He can’t seem to accept that he has lost his battle over Europe and the British people have spoken.
Yet, during the recent election, I began to sympathise with him. What I hadn’t realised was that he had a deeply held Christian faith. An inner belief system that he held very dear and on which his life was based, unusual for a “right on” Liberal and even more so for a politician.
Faith and politics are never a good mix and the words of Alistair Campbell that “we don’t do God”, when talking of New Labour, are still very true. Unlike America, the Christian vote in Britain is not something chased after. Being a Christian isn’t a ticket for a few more million votes.
Yes, some politicians will hint about a personal faith or, like Theresa May, will admit to going to church, but this faith never intrudes on their politics or their policies. It is worn like a cheap pearl necklace hidden under an M&S twinset. Politicians hate talking about faith. It is seen as divisive and a vote loser and, as Tim Farron has found out, can even lose you your job.
His crime was to want to keep his views on abortion and homosexuality to himself. However, this isn’t something you can do in politics, especially when there is such an intrusive media.
It was fascinating to watch the way Farron was set up. A seemingly typical interview in an election campaign soon switched to what were his thoughts on homosexuality and whether it was or was not a sin. Farron stupidly answered that we were all sinners.
As a priest, I have found out to my cost that the public do not like the word ‘sinner’. It is a red rag to a bull and loaded with self-righteous criticism and condemnation.
People do not regard themselves as sinners and cannot grasp the theological nuance of the word.
From my perspective, ‘sin’ is a falling short of the perfect ideal of God. In a broken world, everything and everyone falls short of that and nothing is perfect.
In the hands of the Rottweilers of Channel Four and the BBC, it was soon twisted to make out that sinners were bad and that Farron was condemning the world in general, and gay people in particular. This was not a good soundbite coming from the leader of a progressive, metropolitan party.
As a Christian, I cannot see anything wrong with being gay and worshipping God. I would certainly never use a few archaic Old Testament verses to condemn people for falling in love. I cannot understand why gay people cannot marry in church.
Jesus never mentions homosexuality. He speaks of the greatest evil as being money and greed. His words advocate equal rights and the position of women, as well as the love of our neighbours and never criticising others before we look at ourselves. His words read like a far-left manifesto that would make Jeremy Corbyn look like a Tory. Jesus famously led an attack on the banks of the Jerusalem temple, smashing up the place single-handed, for which he paid the ultimate price.
What Tim Farron should have realised is that his faith would also be his downfall.
I believe it was odious the way in which he was pursued by the media over his beliefs. Even if he did have an issue with homosexuality, he has every right to hold that belief. I could never agree with him, but would not think less of him for it. We all have the right to freedom of thought and speech.
The issue is that we have a media that is utterly biased against Christianity. The faith of the nation has been sacrificed on the altar of multi-culturalism.
Would Cathy Newman of Channel Four News chase down a Muslim with the same questions? Would she dare ask Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, why gay people are regularly convicted of a crime for their sexuality and put to death in several Islamic countries? I think not.
I admire Tim Farron for resigning, that takes guts. It shows he is a man of principle. I am saddened that Christians should be scrutinised and demonised for holding beliefs that are contrary to a liberal viewpoint and, if they are to be pursued, then those of other faiths should come under the same watchful and accusatory eye.
GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster and can be followed @GPTaylorauthor.