I’m aware that my signing of a letter to the ASA about the power of prayer has caused a stir. I thought I should just clarify what I actually think on this.
I completely understand why some of you are concerned. It’s not a well-worded letter – the reference to the ASA providing indisputable evidence is silly, and the implication that people should seek faith healing at the expense of medical intervention is something that I just don’t believe in. For what it’s worth, I also think that the Fabrice Muamba reference is crass. So on all those fronts, I should just say sorry and not bother defending myself. I shouldn’t have signed that letter as it was written, so I apologise for putting some of you in quite a difficult position.
However, my reasons for agreeing to raise a concern with the ASA are simply these:
a) The ASA genuinely do a brilliant job, but they really aren’t appointed to be the arbiter of theological matters, I think they’ve overstepped their remit
b) As a Christian I believe that prayer helps – although my belief is that God mostly heals through medicine, surgery and human compassion and ingenuity.
c) Freedom of speech – an organisation that makes a faith based claim that is clearly subjective (in the same way that a political party makes subjective claims) should be able to make those claims within reason.
To be honest with you, the ASA decision offends my Liberalism far more than it bothers me from a Christian perspective.
As always I am happy to answer any question and talk through any concerns – please email me at [email protected]
* Tim Farron is President of the Liberal Democrats.