The leader of the UK Liberal Democratic Party Tim Farron has become the latest casualty of the election and resigned, saying that it appears that you cannot be its party leader and a Christian anymore.
Tim Farron has announced his resignation as Liberal Democrat leader after he was repeatedly pressed during the general election over his personal beliefs on issues including homosexuality.
Farron issued a statement on Wednesday night saying he felt “remaining faithful to Christ” was incompatible with leading his party. It is understood several senior figures in the party had visited Farron in recent days to attempt to persuade him to step down, though he was initially reluctant.
Throughout the election campaign, Farron was questioned over his attitude to homosexuality and abortion, though he insisted he did not believe gay sex was a sin and has said he was pro-choice.
This raises the perennial issue of how much we should weigh people’s personal opinions when evaluating their public positions. It is hard to know what the ‘true’ beliefs of public figures are and trying to unearth them can be a waste of time and effort. Focusing on their public positions and actions seems more fruitful
It is not clear to me why he felt that he had to resign his leadership post if he had said that he agreed with the party’s positions of being pro-choice and not viewing homosexuality as a sin. If that was the case, then there should be no conflict. There is a conflict only if he felt that his personal views were in conflict with the party platform.
Farron seemed to feel that being repeatedly questioned about his faith was the problem. Maybe it is the case that in the UK, unlike in the US, saying that one is a committed believing Christian is a liability whatever one’s policy stances, because of suspicions that one has a secret religious agenda.