MDI Comment: Although Muslims face increasing pressure against their theological beliefs and opinions in a predominantly Secular Liberal society, the UK is fast turning into an intolerant society which polices thought. With pressure by the UK government, and active programs (and possibly new laws) to outlaw and marginalise Muslims vocal about their belief – it comes as no surprise that other similar theologies are feeling the pressure too. The prospective head of the Liberal Democrats party had to evade questions against his personal Christian morality, which was brought up and questioned in UK media, despite these having nothing to do with his political ideology (which is Liberal). Of course, Secular Liberalism isn’t content for people to merely practice it politically but then hold opinions that are contrary to its criteria for values. A Christian advocating Political Liberalism, no matter how hard they try, will always be scrutinised for their non-Liberal theological opinions, even personal ones. It’s high time Christians in the UK and Muslims in the UK make common cause to demand the right to hold and publicly profess their beliefs without facing social stigma, media smear or negative effects upon our professional lives. However, we would disagree with Tim Farron argument, that he wouldn’t receive the same scrutiny if he was Muslim, as unfortunately, all evidence from the UK media is to the contrary. Tim’s comment is unhelpful and fans the flames of Islamophobia. Tim could easily disabuse himself of this misconception by going to a number of media websites and typing the word ‘Muslims’.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron accused of ‘illiberal’ approach to gay rights
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw says Farron is out of step with own party after he repeatedly avoided answering whether he thought gay sex was a sin
Published in Guardian Newspaper 19th July 2015
Labour deputy-leadership hopeful Ben Bradshaw has condemned new Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron’s approach to gay rights as illiberal.
Just one day into his role as leader, Farron on Friday night repeatedly avoidedanswering whether he regarded gay sex as a sin during a live television interview with Channel 4 News, saying that to “understand Christianity is to understand that we are all sinners”.
“For a Liberal, I thought his position seemed incredibly illiberal,” Bradshaw told Sky News. “Look, I don’t think you should condemn someone or feel they’re not fit for office just because they have religious faith. I’m a practising Anglican. I happen to be a liberal kind of Anglican, rather than a conservative evangelical, which it appears Tim Farron is.”
“It seems to me he’s pretty out of step with his own party even though they’ve just elected him leader,” the MP for Exeter added, “but that doesn’t mean to say he’s not going to be able to do a good job.”
Farron – who replaced Nick Clegg as leader of the party on Thursday – was pushed on the issue again in three broadcast interviews on Sunday morning and again avoided expressing whether or not he thought gay sex was a sin.
“I think you should have every right to love who you love, marry who you wish,” he told Sky News. “I believe and support equality under law, equal dignity and that includes people, whatever their sexuality. So, I’m a liberal to my fingertips.”
“I am not the archbishop of Canterbury and I do not go around making religious or theological announcements,” said Farron.
“I am not a religious leader. I am the leader of the Liberal Democrats,” he said. “If I go around making religious announcements then the next five years will be spent making much more religious announcements.”
“The reality is, I am a Christian – yep, absolutely that is my private faith – but I have just been elected to lead the Liberal fightback and what I would like to talk to you about is David Cameron’s very worrying comments about Syria overnight, about the attack on freedom of information, the selling off of housing association properties. That’s what I’ve been elected to talk to you about.”
Farron was among nine Lib Dem MPs to abstain at a third reading of the marriage (same-sex couples) bill, which was passed with 366 yes votes to 161 no votes in May 2013.
He has said he regrets abstaining because it has given people the wrong idea about his views. Farron explained that he had concerns about aspects of the bill relating to “protecting people’s right to conscience” and that it did not sufficiently protect the rights of transgender people, but said he was a firm believer in same-sex marriage.
Farron told the Guardian during the campaign that he did not think he would be receiving the same level of scrutiny for his religious beliefs if he were Jewish or Muslim, and that people who were concerned his faith would affect his ability to lead a liberal party should “look more carefully into what liberalism really is”.
Speaking to Sky on Sunday, Farron said he did not consider himself in “a persecuted minority”, but said: “I am a member of a minority and it gives me all the more respect for those people who belong to other minorities.”