Tim Farron, the leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrat Party, stepped down from his position yesterday saying he was unable to reconcile his party’s progressive views with his evangelical Christian beliefs.
He came under fire recently for refusing to answer a question about whether gay sex was a sin. He eventually said it wasn’t, which was both too little too late and hard to align with his evangelical views.
All of this constituted a scandal in Britain. (Which sounds downright quaint coming from a guy writing in the U.S.)
Needless to say, Farron didn’t want to deal with that kind of controversy again and opted to step down after the recent elections.
“The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader,” he said.
“A better, wiser person may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to remain faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.
“To be a leader, particularly of a progressive liberal party in 2017 and to live as a committed Christian and to hold faithful to the Bible’s teaching has felt impossible for me.”
I can take him at his word here, but this doesn’t have to be this difficult. You can believe homosexual acts and abortion are sins while still believing the government should play no role in preventing people from their civil rights — something Farron attempted to argue this past April. Religious Democrats do it all the time in the U.S. But if Farron can’t do it with complete conviction, it’s better for everyone for him to leave his post. The Party had already lost Shadow Home Secretary Brian Paddick, an openly gay leader who resigned this week due to Farron’s allegedly anti-gay views.
New blood might be good for the party, anyway. The Lib Dems had 57 (of 650) seats in the House of Commons in 2010, forming part of a coalition government under leader Nick Clegg, but their numbers shrank down to 8 in 2015 and Clegg resigned, paving the way for Farron. Last week’s snap election resulted in a modest gain to 12 seats.
John Sargeant, an atheist writer, has another theory. The party was already in a free-fall and this was Farron’s way to back out with respect.
Tim Farron suggesting he has been crucified for his Christian faith, is how he can forgive his own sins while leading the Liberal Democrats. After the 2015 General Election there was to be no resurrection this time. Perhaps more a stone has been rolled away.
That makes a lot more sense than saying his religion was incompatible with the Party, especially when there are plenty of Lib Dem voters who would disagree.