Former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, says Christians are often misunderstood and marginalised, and there is growing illiberalism in the West today.
In a wide-ranging interview with Premier Christianity, Farron was speaking two years after the media relentlessly quizzed him about whether he believed ‘gay sex is a sin’.
He admits he didn’t handle that pressure or that question as wisely as he could have at the time, and later resigned as leader.
Farron was asked by Premier Christianity, ‘It has been said before that Catholics are always quizzed by journalists on abortion, Muslims on terrorism and evangelicals on homosexuality. Do you blame the media for the way you were treated?’
He answered, ‘Any politician who complains about the media is like a sailor complaining about the sea – it is what it is.
‘I think there is a broader issue in society, where there is a failure to understand faith, and a creeping lack of liberalism in quarters that would call themselves liberal.
‘The assumption in 2019 appears to be that the absence of faith is neutral; that the holding of a faith is a wacky eccentricity that we’ll just about tolerate – but only just.
‘And I would say that’s illiberal and silly – because there is no such thing as a neutral point of view.
‘I’m somebody who believes in a secular society; I’m very much strongly opposed to a clerical state – I even think the Church of England should be disestablished.
‘But just as I oppose Christianity being the State faith, I also 100 per cent oppose atheism as the State faith, and that appears to be where we’ve got to in reality.
‘A real liberal society is one where different worldviews hold together in the same space. Not one dominant one telling all the other ones they’ve got to genuflect towards them’.
Farron was also asked, ‘People have looked at what happened to you and said this means it’s no longer possible to be a Christian with traditional biblical views on sexuality and hold high public office. Are they right?’
He answered, ‘I’ve served as an MP for 14 years; I was president of the party; I was leader of the party.
‘So if there’s a glass ceiling for Christians in politics, it’s reasonably high. And someone wiser than me could have navigated a path through it.
‘There is this notion of Christians in the West being persecuted. I think we are misunderstood, and we are marginalised to a degree, but it’s nothing compared to the real persecution elsewhere.
‘How should Christians respond to that marginalisation? It’s not to be tetchy and whiny and ratty; it’s to be gracious, it’s to turn the other cheek, it’s to model the forgiveness towards others and the grace towards others that they don’t show to us’.
The full interview with Tim Farron is available at premierchristianity.com