Concern is growing among British Christians about their place in the country’s public life after Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, resigned over his religious beliefs, RNS reports.
Mr Farron, who led his party for two years, cited the difficulties he faced squaring his Christianity with his political leadership.
“I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe in and whom my faith is in,” he said in a statement released on Wednesday. “In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we are living in a tolerant liberal society.”
Mr Farron’s religious beliefs emerged as an issue early on in the recent British general election when he was challenged on his attitude toward same-sex marriage in a TV interview and was asked whether he thought homosexuality was a sin.
His first reply was to say that “to understand sexuality is to understand we are all sinners,” but it only spurred more criticism, despite Mr Farron’s eventually saying he accepted same-sex marriage.
Mr Farron led the Liberal Democrats in June 9’s election from nine seats to 12, but his leadership was called into question after Lord Brian Paddick – a well-known gay activist – said he was quitting the party because of the leadership’s views during the election.
Party members are said to have then acted against Mr Farron, indicating he had to go.
One of the notable Christian politicians in Britain, Lord David Alton, was among those who expressed dismay at Mr Farron’s quitting.
“The old Liberal Party was a party of conscience and proud of its Christian foundations,” he said. “That Christian tradition was subsequently ridiculed by many Liberal Democrats, implacable in their hostility to faith schools and insistent on imposing policies, such as abortion, on their members. Inevitably, this has made it a hostile place for people of faith.”