Saturday, January 11, 2020

Passionate Protestantism and The Lib Dems

In adulthood politics, supporting the Liberal  (now called the LibDems) Party has been anathema to me since the days of Jeremy Thorpe  and the Liberal Party support of the rights of a mother to be over the rights of her baby human to be.

Tim Farron, the former leader of the LibDem party is a man whose Christian religious beliefs seem to have cost him his role of leader of the LibDem Party in the House of Commons. LibDem oncerns about his religious beliefs began soon after his election as the LibDem leader in the House of Commons in 2015. For example as  then reported on the BBC:

It has never been more politically fashionable, or mainstream, to be socially liberal - particularly around the subject of homosexuality.So little wonder the new leader of the only party in Parliament with the word "liberal" in its title, who also happens to be a Christian, faces a few questions about how his politics and faith interact.Appearing on Channel 4 News, Tim Farron was asked three times if he believes homosexual sex is a sin.Three times, he didn't give a direct answer, instead choosing to say "my firm belief is we are all sinners".

Plenty of Liberal Democrats who actively campaign for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have sought to offer Mr Farron their support.But others are worried.Still bruised by its crushing losses at the general election, Mr Farron's critics don't want to publicly clash with him just hours into his leadership.But those critics are there."I was quite taken aback when I watched the interview, given he must have known he would be asked about it," a former Lib Dem MP told me."The fact that he thinks we are all sinners isn't much comfort to those of us who firmly believe there's nothing wrong whatsoever with homosexuality," they said."He needs to be honest about his Christian convictions, instead of trying to be too much like a politician about it. There are those of his faith and others that would agree with him, that it is a sin. He should say it. At least that would have the benefit of him being honest."

Tim Farron in 2017 according to the Guardian resigned his leadership of the LibDem Party:

In the crucial first week of the general election campaign however, Farron’s real chance to make an impression on the public was dogged with questions over his attitude to gay sex. Initially he attempted to deflect the question by insisting he was not a religious philosopher. When he finally sat down with the BBC’s Eleanor Garnier in an intervention to clarify he did not believe gay sex was a sin, the damage had been done.He later faced questions too on his attitude to abortion, faced with a copy of an old interview he gave with a Salvation army magazine where he said the procedure was “wrong”. He acted far more decisively, insisting he was “pro-choice” and the time limit on abortion should be set by science.Pundits predicted a gloomy night for the Lib Dems but on Thursday 8 June Farron defied low expectations after a marathon campaign across the country, covering thousands of miles. He won back seats in south west London, Scotland, Bath and Oxford, as well as Eurosceptic Eastbourne, but two of his MPs, Nick Clegg and Greg Mullholland, lost their seats to Labour.Allies were defiantly predicting his leadership was safe but party grandees began mulling a challenge over the weekend, concerned he would never be able to fully put concerns about his views behind him. Lib Dem peer Brian Paddick, once the country’s most senior gay police officer, expressed concerns about Farron’s views and then quit his role as frontbench spokesman.In a resignation speech he had not expected to give, Farron was defiant that he could not compromise his faith, even for the party he loved. “I joined our party when I was 16, it is in my blood, I love our history, our people, I thoroughly love my party,” he said.“Imagine how proud I am to lead this party. And then imagine what would lead me to voluntarily relinquish that honour. In the words of Isaac Watts it would have to be something ‘so amazing, so divine, (it) demands my heart, my life, my all’.”

Yet Tim Farron's article in the Credo section of the Times today provides in my view an impressive upbeat view of Christianity generally.  The initial part of his  concluding paragraph reads:
The Gospel teaches us to forgive others because we have been forgiven. We are to seek justice with love an compassion and to let go of our bitterness.

The paragraph then turns to the UK in particular where he states:
If we want to heal the Brexit divisions, we must be willing to give up our anger and to offer and receive forgiveness. We do this in the hope that one day our world will be restored, and in the strength of the God who offers us his unconditional love. At the Start of the new year, surely these are gifts worth opening?

Tim Farron's Christian beliefs are I understand derived from passionate Protestantism whereas my own are  Roman Catholic but his Credo article in Today's Times newspaper illustrates that many of our beliefs are identical.

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