It’s a statement we hear a lot coming from conservatives: “I don’t understand how a person can be a Christian and be a liberal.” Between remaining faithful to policies on abortion, transgenderism, and the size of government that fly in the face of Biblical beliefs and the general hostility toward faith on the Left, political liberalism is becoming increasingly less of a place for a Christian to feel at home.
The latest example has happened across the pond, where Tim Farron, once the leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrat Party, has stepped down from that position because he found it difficult to reconcile his party loyalty and his faith in Jesus Christ.
“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 in a televised statement.
“To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”
It’s easy to leave a party whose numbers in Parliament paled in comparison to the giant Tory and Labour parties, but Farron – whose record included support for gay rights and a pro-choice position on abortion – found himself repeatedly grilled about his Christian faith in television interviews, largely hounded about whether he thinks homosexuality is a sin. He addressed this treatment in his statement (including an admission that he hadn’t always handled himself well in those interviews).
“From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith. I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience. Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.”
He also said:
“I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in. In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.”
Part of the problem with Farron’s party is that its leader was forced to spend too much time in interviews debating the religiosity of his political positions. This wasn’t so much Farron’s fault as it is the fault of contemporary liberalism. The secular Left (a term which is becoming increasingly redundant) views faithful Christianity as something to be ignored at best and stamped out at worst.
Over at National Review, Michael Brendan Dougherty put it this way:
The entire elite culture and much of the popular culture is secular in a quite specific way. It is not a secularism that encourages public neutrality while maintaining a generous social pluralism. It’s a secularism that demands the humiliation of religion, specifically Christianity. And in Britain it has a decidedly classist flavor, one that holds it impossible for an Evangelical like Farron — one of those people — to represent the better sort of person.
In supremely secular Britain, Farron’s Christianity was seen as more of a freak show than a valid system of belief. It stood to reason that he would one day have to choose between his faith in Jesus Christ and his devotion to political party.
In a uniquely British way, Tim Farron was made to care. Good for him for choosing to care about the right things in life.