It is impossible to be a committed Christian and a national politician, according to leading British politician Tim Farron, who has faced repeated hostile questioning over his views on homosexuality and abortion.
Mr Farron has resigned after less than two years as leader of Britain’s third political party the Liberal Democrats. He said that recent questioning about his views made him feel “guilty that this focus was distracting attention… obscuring our message.”
The Liberal Democrat Party won only four new Parliamentary seats in last week’s General Election and was expected to do much better.
Mr Farrron conceded that journalists have the right to ask such questions but argued: “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 that from the earliest days of his leader ship he had been asked questions about his faith. “I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience. Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.”
But he said he had found a tension in “remaining faithful to Christ” while leading a political party in the current environment”.
In particular, Mr Farron has faced repeated questioning over his views on ‘gay sex’. As a liberal, he has said that he does not seek to impose his faith on other people and has voted in favour of recent developments such as same-sex marriage. Yet in spite of this has been criticised for privately holding what many people suspect are traditional or ‘socially-conservative’ and ‘Biblical’ views of ‘marriage’ and sexuality.
“I’m a liberal to my finger tips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me,” Mr Farron declared in his statement announcing his resignation.
“There are Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society, but I have not taken that approach because I disagree with it – it’s not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel.”
He said that the controversy had made it clear that “we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant liberal society”.