Faith, politics and salvation by Christ alone
Thu, 15/06/2017 - 15:39 | Andrew Perriman
Tim Farron resigned yesterday as leader of the Liberal Democrats because the conflict between his evangelical faith and the values of a progressive liberal party had become unmanageable. His official statement can be read here.
During the election campaign he had struggled in particular to explain his position on gay rights. Under media interrogation he insisted that he supported “equality under law, equal dignity and that includes people whatever their sexuality”. But he clearly also felt bound to maintain some awkward private religious opinions that were at odds with his political convictions.
It’s perhaps not surprising that people concluded that he was “out of step with his own party”—and indeed with the prevailing moral mood of British society.
Some have argued in the aftermath that British liberalism is not nearly as fair-minded and tolerant as it thinks it is. The director of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum said that “his resignation reflects the fact we live in a society that is still illiberal in many ways and is intolerant of political leaders having a faith”.
Farron appears to agree. If he has become the subject of suspicion because of his beliefs, then “we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society”.
But the strategic quarantining of personal faith from public policy was surely unworkable, especially for a party leader. We can regard it as a brave experiment in Christian political engagement, but I think in the end it’s evidence that the church in the post-Christian West has not yet worked out where and how it fits in.