In full: Tim Farron’s interview on Premier Radio

Tim has spoken at length on Premier Radio, including remarks on his faith and his role as leader of the Liberal Democrats:

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • So basically from 5 min 20 secs Tim Farron admits that there was a General Election coming up, it was a great opportunity for the Liberal Democrats and so he lied when he asked if he thought gay sex was a sin.
    Now, I take issue not with the fact whether he believes gay sex is a sin or not (everyone is entitled to their faith and beliefs), but I do take issue with a leader of political party lying

  • paul barker 10th Jan '18 - 4:18pm

    The Root of Tims problem is that most of us arent Christians & have a very poor understanding of what they actually believe. All the hoo-haa round Xmas & Easter give a very false impression, as do Christian Weddings & Funerals & those four together probably make up most of the average Non-Christians interaction with The Faith.
    Its very hard to think of anything Tim could have said that would have been short enough, comprehensible & accurate.

  • Helen Dudden 10th Jan '18 - 5:42pm

    Having a belief is never easy. When I was a member of the Party, I found Tim very entertaining at conference.I
    I do think it must have been difficult for him.

  • Why does anyone care if he thinks gay sex is a sin or not? Nobody badgered practising Anglicans David Cameron or Theresa May with such questions. It seems irrelevant to me.

    I feel sorry for Tim; with a longer amount of time before the election i.e. if it had been held in 2020, he could have made a real impact, especially as Brexit dragged on. I feel like he wanted to run Lib Dems to the radical left of a Cooper/Burnham led Labour party, and obviously the rise of Corbyn prevented that, leaving Tim without much of a niche beyond Brexit (partly denied as the LDs voted in parliament to hold the referendum!).

  • I groaned when I saw this. I have no problem with Tim holding his religious beliefs. The problem is Tim talking about his religious beliefs. The simple fact is that is in the 21st Century the teachings of the bible, in some areas, particularly with regards to homosexuality are completely out of step with modern progressive political sentiment. By putting his faith it into the public realm it opened him upto defending texts that are incompatible with the sentiments of most potential Lib Dem voters. He should (and all our MPs who are religious) should answer questions about faith with the simple answer “My faith is a private matter” the British public accepts and understand this and wants to here their views on their own political policies and the critiques of the other major parties rather an in-depth theological debate.
    Hopefully Tim will stop focussing on this as it makes him sound, frankly, a bit fruitcakey and focus on issues that actually help the party.

  • OnceALibDem 10th Jan '18 - 7:20pm

    “Nobody badgered practising Anglicans David Cameron or Theresa May with such questions.”

    Apart from this you mean:

    ‘The political show host asked: “You’re also a Christian. Do you think that gay sex is a sin?”
    “No,” May abruptly replied.’

  • Well isn’t this latest revelation just what a party on a 7% polling needs…?!

    I find Tim views on this issue utterly repugnant. What kind of message does it send to the LGBT+young people of 2018 when a senior politician in a national party essentially says to them that whilst he believes what are doing is morally wrong, he will fight for’ tolerance’ of it.

    The most disappointed Ive ever been by a politician, ever. I think his leadership of the party it’s very lowest ebb.

  • I’ve known lots of Christian Lib Dems.

    Some think gay sex is sinful.
    Some think alcohol is sinful.
    Some think abortion is sinful.
    Some think gambling is sinful.

    None – to the best of my knowledge – want to stop the rest of us doing any of those things so does it really matter?

    Since I’m not a Christian I’m really not bothered by what people consider as sins under Christian thought. So long as they’re liberal enough to allow others to follow their own beliefs is it really important?

  • Am not sure that Cameron was suspected of being half-hearted in his support of modern marriage equality – didn’t TF have a record that wasn’t exactly 100# before he became leader?
    Anyway, Cameron and May lead the CONSERVATIVE party, and TF was leading the LIBERAL party.

    And now, it seems, he wants to bear witness publically, drag the whole sorry thing up again, make the LDs look ridiculous again – and … what? Repent, say gay aex is a sin and save his seat or his soul?

    Argh! Worse, his argument on Christian FM seems to be that only Christ is capable of being sin free – so is he equating gay sec with straight sex?

    Finally, Tim, you love Jesus and that’s fine – tell me though please, what did Jesus say about homosexuality? Am not interested in the OT or Paul, just Jesus. The OT didn’t like menstruating women, or prawns either, and Paul doesn’t seem a good model for anyone … Lots of Jesus’ thoughts are recorded though in the Gospel, about anything that mattered to Him, so just remind us what he had to say.

    And then Tim pleaae, in the nicest way, do what you say you have always wanted and just keep your faith to yourself. Thanknyou.

  • Dave Orbison 10th Jan '18 - 8:23pm

    Poor Tim? He chose to believe his version of Christianity on this issue. He chose to be a politician. He chose to stand as leader of a ‘liberal’ party. Whereas gay people who face hate and homophobic comments daily are what? How should gays feel about the Leader of the party that says we are sinners, then to deflect a few ‘awkward’ questions lies?

    I apologised earlier this year when challenged here after criticising him over just comments when he then stated it was not a sin. Though I didn’t believe him, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Of course he is entitled to his belief. But when ‘private’ beliefs are made public and those beliefs are harmful to a section of society I am bound to say now that is really poor and not especially liberal.

  • I am deeply disappointed in this.

    He is, of course, entitled to his views and his interpretation of the Christian faith. As a Christian myself, his interpretation is completely at odds with mine. I would have answered as quickly as May, I would have followed it with an explanation that, in my view, any loving relationship is a gift from a loving God and therefore to be cherished. I could add that I was dismayed by the CofE’s approach to equal marriage. In other words, in spite of being a committed Christian my views on sexuality are entirely in line with most atheist / agnostic liberally minded people.

    The biggest problem is that Nick Clegg was seen as having lied during the 2010 campaign and his successor has now confessed to having lied during the 2017 campaign.

  • I’ve never known a political leader (even Christian leaders) to be questioned in such a way. Over the years many leading politicians have been Christians. Christianity is not an obscure sect. The Lib dems led the way on equal marriage so one has to ask why these questions were being made. Politically the last thing the left or the right wanted was a resurgence of the lib dems, and this was an angle to attack Farron. His failure to deal with this line of questioning led to it being an issue and his political opponents smelt a weakness and exploited it.

  • Geoffrey Payne 10th Jan '18 - 9:17pm

    I think a lot of people completely misunderstand Tim on this issue. The question about whether he thinks gay sex is a sin or not is one he would prefer NOT to talk about. For that reason, the media have become obsessed with it. It is they who want to put him on the spot about it and have decided they will not leave him alone until he finally answers. He has finally done so having lost his dream job because of it. I suspect he is hoping he can just get on with the rest of his life now.
    It was Cathy Newman who asked the question that Tim found impossible to answer. It is her job to find questions that politicians would rather not answer. She found one here and although it seriously damaged Tim and to some extent our party we should not begrudge her for doing so.
    Tim was an excellent leader in all other respects it is such a shame he was brought down by what seemed like a technicality. Tim made clear in his leadership election that he would wholeheartedly support LGBT+ rights and what this says to me is that it is perfectly possible to believe that you can believe gay sex is sinful and not at the same time be a homophobe.
    He did not want to answer Cathy’s question because if he answered yes, gay sex is sinful, that he would offend the LGBT+ community and Labour would exploit the issue. If he answered no he would be lying. So he tried not to answer the question, but lets be honest we all knew there was only one reason why he could not answer the question, because the answer was yes.
    The question we all have to face up to as Liberals is how we work together in a pluralistic fashion. In my opinion being pluralistic means working with people that you sometimes disagree with for the general good. Tim was happy to work with us knowing we support LGBT+ rights, and he would even vote with us where applicable in doing so. For all the critics of Tim, would you nonetheless give your right arm to have someone with his energy and work rate as an activist in your constituency? What about the other issues he is passionate about such is campaigning for the refugees for example? Our Liberalism if it is to thrive in the future has to encompass a spectrum of opinions. if it is too narrow we will remain stuck where we are now.

  • John Chandler 10th Jan '18 - 9:19pm

    Argh. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, as he (quite rightly) felt his religious beliefs were something private and shouldn’t be the focus of attention when the campaign was about the good of the country.

    Now this. Clearly, keeping his religious beliefs private and personal is no longer an issue, and his public views are at odds with a party that has a very strong commitment to LGBT+ rights.

  • Graham Evans 10th Jan '18 - 9:34pm

    I see this post is being pre moderated. I just hope it’s not being done by someone who still thinks that Farron is “liberal to the core”. If we were still in the 1950s that might have been a reasonable comment in respect of liberalism. In the 21st century it seems badly out of touch with progressive thought. The sort of self indulgence now exhibited by Farron in reopening the issue of homosexuality and sin raises serious issues regarding Farron’s judgement.

  • I thought Tim gave a pretty good account of himself here. A nice bloke.

  • There’s a new policy of pre-moderation for all comments (see another thread from earlier this week), so its not specific to this article Graham.

    Personally, its annoying to see this come up again – I wish Tim Farron just had the political sense to just bite his tongue and deal with whatever issues he has silently.

    However, I find it almost equally annoying just how outraged some people seem to be getting about it again – like Geoffrey said, I think some are misunderstanding what he actually means. Tim Farron does not have a duty of care to anyone who may or may not be questioning their sexuality – I wish we’d stop treating him like he does.

  • @Geoffrey Payne
    But he did answer the question when it was put to him again by the BBC and then he said he DID NOT believe gay sex was a sin. He has now since said in an interview with Christian Radio that he actually lied during that interview and he does believe it is a sin
    The fundamental point surely is not what he believes, but the fact that he openly lied in order to garner votes

    As a gay man, I really do not care if someone of religious belief believes gay sex is a sin or not, everybody has the freedom to believe in whatever they choose.

    Tim had the choice to either refuse to answer the question and state that he keeps his personal held religious views to himself and separate from his politics and left it at that, or, he should tell the truth.
    Tim was not singled out on this issue, other political leaders have been asked exactly the same question, indeed Theresa May was asked exactly the same question as a practising Christian herself, difference was Theresa May answered swiftly and honestly when asked.

    What is not acceptable is to lie and excuse that lie with a lame explanation that he believed the media outlets would not publish his entire response and so therefore he decided to lie.
    Could you imagine if David Davis blatantly lied about something and used the excuse, well I believed the BBC would not broadcast my full response, therefore I decided to lie. Or if Phillip Hammond did the same at the treasury, or any time a minister is questioned on policy. People would be rightly calling for their resignation.

    The first and foremost quality needed of all public servants, is integrity.

    It is simply not acceptable for any politician to lie, but for a leader / former leader of a political party to admit to lying and doing so because it was during an election campaign and there were opportunities to be had ahead……

    I really do not see how this can be defended by anyone

  • I’m saddened that we’re seeing such nuanced criticism of public homophobic statements by a senior politician. I’m sorry, if a prominent politician expressed white supremacist views, I don’t think people would be lining up to justify that the politician has the right to their personal opinion (while, of course, going out of their way to point out that they disagree with that opinion). Why is this case different?

    Homophobia has no place in public life, and religion must not be allowed to be used an excuse to minimise that fact.

  • Liberal neil 10th Jan '18 - 10:47pm

    A few of the comments here illustrate the point Tim was trying to make in this issue. The meaning of ‘sin’ is different for different people. That left him finding it very difficult to give a straight answer to the original question, because a short and straightforward answer would have been completely misinterpreted.

    For example, @Mr Libby, at no point does he say that what young LGBT+ people are doing is ‘morally wrong’, and his explanation of what he means by ‘sin’ makes that clear.

    And @Steve Way, he hasn’t said anything to suggest that he doesn’t think loving relationships are a good thing.

  • “It is simply not acceptable for any politician to lie”, If we took that literally, then the House of Commons would be empty.

  • Graham Evans 10th Jan '18 - 11:24pm

    Surely the most important lesson to be learned from Farron’s views on homosexuality, as indeed was also the case in respect of Toby Young, is that anyone putting themselves forward for prominent public office should ask themselves the question “Is there anything in my past or in my current views which might cause embarrassment to the organisation?” Similarly those who are responsible for assisting in a selection process should ask the same question. During the leadership election in 2015 it was known by some that Norman Lamb might have a problem with a possible Brexit referendum because of the attitudes of voters in his own constituency, but perhaps this should have been more widely known to ordinary members. It now seems that many at the top of the Party were aware that Farron’s views on homosexuality did not sit easily in a party which prided itself on LGBTI issues. Unfortunately this too was not communicated to ordinary members. Had Farron been questioned on this issue in the hustings meetings the result of the leadership election might have been very different. Moreover, even had Farron still won, the Party would have been better prepared for the mine put down by a journalist in the middle of an election campaign.

  • @liberal Neil
    It can’t be a sin and a good thing…

    A Sin is to knowingly do something that is wrong in the eyes of God. I agree with TIm that we all Sin. I disagree with Tim that a homosexual person having sex is a sin. Even if we take God out of it, sin is not hard to explain, from the minor examples of say taking out our own bad day on our partner, to the major such as Murder.

    Sadly this really is that black and white. If he had said that he felt some activity was a sin but as a liberal he did not feel his place to judge or try to curtail such activity then he would have been honest.

  • @LiberalNeil – well if you want to take a theological position then you seem to be saying that Tim’s biblical interpretation is better than the man who said this.

    “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place. I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”

    I mean Desmond Tutu was only an Archbishop after all.

  • The question of what is a sin is not one that exercises most people in Britain, Tim clearly did not handle the question concerning gays well. It is a theological question primary concerning private behavior. It seems we are now bombarded in the media with allegations concerning famous people of sexual misconduct. The reality is people need to adopt high moral standards which clearly many do not whatever their sexuality.

  • Let’s be honest with ourselves – the Lib Dems were seduced by a travelling showman with the gift of the gab. The problem was that they turned a blind eye to the question that obviously conflicted him – that of Gay sex and love. Thus Kathy Newman pounced (that’s her job) after he got the job and the rest, as they say, is history. One PPC, at the time, said `he might be a God-botherer but he’s what we need right now!`

    The fact that he hadn’t formulated an answer to this question when he had years to do so speaks volumes.

    When I was a member of the Party I voted Norman Lamb. I did so because I could see a gap between the showman Tim and the real TIm.

    That Tim should call Brexiteers `ignorant, narrow-minded and bigoted` is disgusting considering his own views.

    Don’t you see – it’s quite frankly ridiculous for a LIBERAL party to have had as a leader in 2017 that believed being Gay is a sin. Neither May nor Farage (to my knowledge) believes that!

  • Dave Orbison 11th Jan '18 - 6:38am

    i am amazed and saddened that some LibDems are willing to go through all sorts of contortions to defend Tim Farron on this issue.

    To be clear, we are entitled to freely think and hold whatever views we come too. However, if we chose to allow our views to become public then such views are open to debate.

    It is offensive for gays to be told we are sinners. Please don’t try and cover this with ‘we are all sinners’. If that is what he meant to say he could have said that gays are no more or less sinful than anyone else. But he chooses to make clear that he believes gay sex is sinful.

    To the free speech argument…. if he said Asians are sinful because they are not white would we still defend his comments by referring to some text in a book? Would we tell Asian people not to get too upset afterall Tim is entitled to say what he thinks?

    Free speech is not an open invitation to say things that are hurtful or offensive to any section of society.

  • John Probert 11th Jan '18 - 9:43am

    @Dave Orbison:
    “The classical liberal interpretation of free speech – see JS Mill ‘On Liberty’ – is the ability to say things that some people will find offensive.”

    Yes, or as Voltaire reputedly said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

  • Peter Watson 11th Jan '18 - 9:55am

    @Rob “He should (and all our MPs who are religious) should answer questions about faith with the simple answer “My faith is a private matter””
    I do not believe it as clear-cut as that.
    There is a difference between refusing to discuss the details of one’s faith (which could be considered private), and a politician refusing to discuss how their faith influences the decisions that they make (which could be considered to be in the public interest). It is very difficult (impossible?) for a politician to address the public consequences of their faith without getting drawn into discussing more private subjects, and given the role of all politicians as public figures who influence the direction of the country, perhaps it would be wrong for them to try to do so.
    Homosexuality/homophobia is a huge part of this, but it is not the only important issue. I am reminded of Corbyn (an atheist) being strongly criticised by his opponents, including Lib Dems, for stating that as a PM he would not authorise the launch of Trident missiles. This topic is less of a liberal touchstone, but as a Christian, would Tim Farron have pressed the button and killed millions of innocent people? Would Cameron or May?

  • Jayne mansfield 11th Jan '18 - 10:09am

    @ Dave Orbison,

    The pain you and others feel comes through even in short posts. Most people use secular reasoning, and the whole idea of ‘sin’ is a nonsense.

    I no more think of homosexual love as a ‘sin’ than I thought that my having sex before marriage was a ‘sin’, although there were those who chose to call it that.

    I am utterly committed to the idea of free speech within the law. I am afraid that we all have to face comments that we find offensive and hurtful.

    It is through free speech that one gets the measure of a person, and I am shocked that there are those who consider the problem to be that a belief should have remained private and hidden, even if the belief was deeply held. Beliefs openly expressed can be challenged.

    Free speech is an idea that is easy to agree with, when one only allows free speech that one agrees with.

  • When Tim was leader I had sympathy for him personally (rather than on his view of gay sex)…He was clearly uncomfortable with the issue and he was being badgered at every turn to give a ‘Yes/No’ answer…

    However, now, I have absolutely no such sympathy…When he stepped down as leader his view, and the issue itself, ‘died a death’…This latest interview was not forced on Tim; he chose to give it and, as such has deliberately re-introduced the controversy…

    I am amazed that there are still some who will turn verbal cartwheels to defend Tim’s actions….

  • Richard- you’ve gone to the heart of this. The belief that gay sex was sinful was what triggered centuries of oppression, execution and imprisonment. ‘Sin’ was bigotry’s figleaf. Americans call gay men ‘faggots’ to this day because righteous Christians used to burn them, to cleanse their sin.
    By going on and on about this, TF has (i) worse than offended, I think betrayed, Judas-style, many members – hence the heat in the issue (Ii) highlighted LD lies (just what we need as we try to recover from fees) and (iii) shown just how unsuited he was to be leader. little wonder he nearly lost Westmoreland too – what must his constituents make of this endless tortured soul bearing??

    The worst headlines today for a party that needs to reidenrify itself. I’ll repeat one …. ‘Toby Little apologises for being sexist; Tim Farron apologises for not being homophobic enough’.

    I almost despair – but isn’t that a sin too?

  • Tim Farron is very clearly a decent man and I have no problem with his Christianity or the ‘devoutness’ of his beliefs, but I suspect the clue to where he went wrong comes around 13.26 in the interview when he acknowledges that his friends at University advised him NOT to go into politics. I think he should have listened to them more closely.

    His desire to improve the lot of society is not in doubt, but if I were his careers adviser back at Uni, I would have looked at his passion to help people and his passion to effectively ‘roll up his sleeves’ as he did in Greece helping desperate people out of flimsy boats, plus the good advice of his Uni friends who must have had a good insight into his personality and style, might cumulatively, have pointed me to advise him to pursue his career in what is considered ‘the Charity industry’, such as the Red Cross or similar?

    Quite simply, Tim is a decent bloke and a devout Christian, who took a wrong career turn in his youth. And on a positive note, it’s probably not too late for him to career shift if he were motivated to do so.

  • Dave Orbison 11th Jan '18 - 10:40am

    John and Richard – I don’t disagree with ‘the right to say’ argument as you pu it. I perhaps didn’t make my point very clearly.

    But I don’t think the right to ‘say what you want’ can be totally unfettered – is it OK for somebody to hurl racist abuse at someone because that’s how they feel? Do we put their right to free speech over the harm that causes?

    I didn’t say that Tim Farron should not be able to speak freely. I said that anyone, Tim Farron included, who does speak publicly can’t complain if their comments are the subject of scrutiny and criticism.

    As for a leading liberal espousing prejudice I find it disheartening. I do not see this as a free speech issue and an attack on Tim Farron’s rights but rather that his views will cause harm and offence.

  • @Paul Walter

    You are quite correct to list the other items the Bible considers a Sin. However with the Bible Context is all. I read a fantastic piece by Giles Fraser once where he put forward the notion that Chapter and Verse numbering was a huge problem in the Bible. It allows single verses or groups of verses to be taken out of context.

    I would further contend as a fellow Christian that many of those ‘sins’ listed were not obligations on non-Jewish after the Jerusalem meeting where it was decided that not all tenants of the Jewish faith needed to be followed by gentile converts.

    But mainly I would put my agreement with your use of Desmond Tutu. Overly literal reading of the Bible, as with overly literal reading of other religious texts, leads to overly simple interpretations of it’s teachings.

  • Laurence Cox 11th Jan '18 - 12:58pm

    While I am grateful to Paul Walter for posting this and for his BTL comment, it seems to me that most of the commenters do not show any understanding of Tim’s faith or the position in which he found himself. I do not think that he handled that position well, but we should not be expecting our leaders to be saints. We only have to think back to the three leaders who preceded Tim and what brought them down: Charles Kennedy (alcoholism), Menzies Campell (ageism), and Nick Clegg (bad decisions); the other potential leader in this period, Chris Huhne, was imprisoned for perverting the course of justice.

    Theologically, sin has a very specific meaning. St Augustine described it as “a word, deed, or desire in opposition to the eternal law of God.” There is no hierarchy of sin, coveting your neighbour’s new car is just as much a sin as murdering them. This is why Farron said “we are all sinners” because we have all fallen short of God’s law.

    Unfortunately, what this country has lost over the last two generations is a common understanding of Christianity where someone like Tim could make the statements that he did and be understood. Alastair Campbell famously said “We don’t do God” when Blair was asked a question about his faith, a position Tim referenced when he spoke about British politicians minimising their faith while American politicians emphasised it.

    I listened to the whole of the interview and considered it to be well-balanced. The interviewers did not shy away from asking the question, but did not devote much of the interview to it either. Perhaps we should be looking at some of the more political interviewers in the media and questioning whether their combatative style is really beneficial as it reduces politics to pre-prepared soundbites. There is no room for the politicians to develop their arguments coherently and we are all the poorer for it.

  • “”I would say foolishly and wrongly, [I] attempted to push it away by giving an answer that, frankly, was not right.”” in other words, he lied

    “”There are things – including that – that I said that I regret. There was a sense I felt I had to get this off my table: here’s a general election, a great opportunity for the Liberal Democrats.” in other words, it was an opportunity for Liberal Democrats and so he lied to garner votes

    Tim said he had felt “isolated” and under pressure from his party to say gay sex was not sinful, suggesting he ended up misleading the public about his views.

    I have a question for all you people rushing to defend Tim, as though the lie does not matter.
    What does it say about this party when the leader of the party feels he has to “mislead” the public on his personal views in order to conform to the wider parties views / policies.

    Wow this could mean that Tim or any number of MP’s are secretly in favour of Brexit, but feel as though they have to lie in order to conform to the wider party faithful.

    Don’t you see the problem with integrity?

  • Dave Orbison 11th Jan '18 - 2:43pm

    Jayne Mansfield – thanks for your comments.

    Laurence – With the greatest of respect once again you are looking at this as some theological debate. It is not because it affects the lives of many gay people who have to live with prejudice all their lives.

    I respect anyone’s right to follow their religion, but I really couldn’t care less what anyone chooses to believe if they keep it private. But I do care if they decide to publicly label gays in a negative way. It is harmful. Many young gay people feel isolated and marginalised. Homophobia within families and communities takes a terrible toll on young gay people.

    Many years ago, when I struggled with coming to terms with being gay and the homophobia that was everywhere around me I was fortunate to find a Support Group. Ironically the person who offered most help was a staunch member of the Liberal Party. Yet 40 years on and I wonder what he would make of the ex-Leader of the LibDems telling us that gays are sinners. Words almost fail me.

    I cannot begin to think how let down they must feel when members of the LGBT community hear this from a ‘liberal’ politician, often described as a ‘nice man’. I once used to travel to the Bible Belt in North Carolina with work. One year I found that a beautiful gay bookstore and community centre that I had visited many times before had been burned to the ground. People I knew in work over there were afraid to come out and afraid of losing their jobs. Yet their managers went to church and bible school holidays and waxed lyrical about how Christian they were. There were vehemently homophobic – we are sinners, we’ll burn in hell etc etc. Still no doubt they were only expressing their opinion and of course relied on selected quotes to justify their position. So that’s OK then?

    If there ever there is such a thing as Judgement Day then I’d rather hear the verdict direct from the source than rely on an agonising intermediary who, by the way, chooses to ignore the positive view many Christians have of gays.

  • I am frankly shocked by the lengths that some are prepared to go to defend downright homophobic opinions, just because of who in this particular instance is expressing them in that we consider him ‘a good liberal’. Those defending this, should ask themselves in good conscience if they would react in the same way if it was a right wing, Tory brexiteer who had deceided to share this? Expressing homophobic views under the ‘safety blanket’ of a religious belief doesn’t make it them any more acceptable or palatable! We would rightly be appalled by someone trying to defend their racist or misogynistic opinions through the justification of religious beliefs. Why therefore is it any different when it comes to matters of sexuality?

    It was right that Tim resigned the leadership and perhaps a shame that he ever assumed it in the first place.

  • Laurence Cox 11th Jan '18 - 4:50pm

    @Dave Orbison

    Tim did not say that only gays are sinners; he said that we all are sinners. This is an important distinction. Matthew Chapter 7 starts with the words “Judge not, that you be not judged” and Jesus goes on to tell the parable about the speck in your brother’s eye and the log in your own (in the ESV translation). John Chapter 8 contains the story of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus challenges her accusers by saying “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” and when they all depart, he says to her “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

    Jesus does not deny the existence of sin, but he tells us that we have no right to judge other people, and refuses to judge the woman.

    Your bad experiences with some people who call themselves Christians should not blind you to Jesus’ teachings.

  • Opinions on morality usually reflect the fashionable consensus of the times. If we were Victorians, we would probably not discuss such matters. Belief systems such as those associated with religion, tend to survive changes in fashion as do cultural beliefs which means that across our planet, there are people horrified by views of the type being expressed by comments here.

    My point is that describing Tim’s views as disgraceful is political correctness and intolerance. He may not have managed the conflict with his role as leader in the best way, but being hounded by the press seeking a story is not helpful.

    Homosexuality was a criminal offence when I was young. This illustrates the extent to which society has changed its view in a relatively short time. The perception of right and wrong is defined by society at the time, which is why tolerance is more important than righteous indignation.

  • Dave Orbison 11th Jan '18 - 5:56pm

    Laurence – I disagree. If, as you say, Tim Farron was merely stating that ‘we are all sinners’ and that he intended that there should be no distinction attributed to gay sex then there would be nothing for him to agonise or lie about. He could easily have said each and every time when asked, “we are all sinners it matters not if you are gay etc.” But he didn’t. He says it’s difficult for him, why if it is a simple blanked statement that we are all sinners? He is clearly exorcised about the gay sex matter and the various journalists are fully entitled to questions of him on this.

    Having ‘confessed’ to being an atheist there is no point quoting the bible at me. Why should I have to take any note about something written thousands of years ago?

    You are free to believe what you want and equally I should be free not to believe what I want. You choose to believe, entirely your free choice of course, but why should I have to put up with, or have to accept, the judgement of those who choose to believe. Why on earth do they think their interpretation of scripture is in anyway of interest to me? If it were of interest I would go to church and listen to sermons etc.

    I have met a lot of people who were screwed up over their sexuality as a result of religious indoctrination and homophobia. I don’t walk into church spouting my views as to the many dubious activities that have been done over the centenaries in the name of a religion. Why should I accept religion stepping ‘outside of the church’ and spreading guilt and prejudice towards the LGBT community? As for the teachings of Christ since you raise it, what about ‘love thy neighbour’ judge not’ etc etc.

  • The idea that we are all sinners before the majesty of God is a hard political sell, but I don’t for one minute think Tim would not support LGBT+ rights or defend those who identify that way; his voting history almost always shows that he does. Compare to Theresa may who has a less perfect record when voting on LGBT rights – who would you rather was prime minister?

    Perhaps we need someone to say and do the right thing because of the way LGBT people are still treated, and that will be the bottom line, but I imagine those with contrasting political views will try to make tim a deep-south loon when that is far from the case. I would be disappointed if the lib Dems didn’t defend his record even with him talking from a very different viewpoint.

  • Dave Orbison 11th Jan '18 - 8:00pm

    Paul – I am happy to take a lesson on vocabulary, thank you.

    “So why are you getting so wound up?” Because, I know from first hand Paul how unhelpful it is when people in the public add negative comments about gays. I’m not bothered for myself but for young LGBT people who can do without this sort of unhelpful nonsense.

    “As for the teachings of Christ since you raise it” I didn’t, Laurence did. I know you are not trying to make light of a serious issue but as with Peter’s comment ‘it’s been decriminalised’ he may as well say well slavery has been abolished, so what’ s the problem? Is this the limit of our fight for human rights and dignity?

    All this matters very much to many people up and down the UK, it is much more serious than some theological debate. There are young gays living in ‘Christian homes’ where they are taught that gay sex is sinful and live in fear of being discovered or outed. It is those vulnerable people that I fear for and I would have hoped that Tim Farron could have just stopped the outpouring of his public agony for once and think of the damage his views can cause.

  • Laurence Cox 11th Jan '18 - 9:13pm

    @Dave Orbison

    I raised Jesus’ teachings because Paul Walter’s original posting was about Tim Farron’s interview on Premier Christian Radio (the only Christian radio station in the UK). Being an atheist does not give you a free pass to criticise Christians as you have done in the comments; yet this is exactly what Tim was complaining about in his resignation speech. It seems to me that there are too many people here ready to rush to judgement and far from all of them are Christians.

  • To put this in a different context. Had Tim said that he believed inter-racial marriages were sinful but it was a matter of individual freedom so he would always vote in favour of allowing mixed race marriages and for racial equality laws I doubt he would have made it through approval as a Parish Council candidate.

  • @Dave Orbison

    You are making assumptions about Christian households.

    I am in agreement with with Tim, however I have told my children that the worst thing about them being gay is them not telling me. Being their Dad they should accept some ribald humour for a while but life will return to normal. In the some way we have told our adult children that our preference is that they do not share a bed but it is their choice.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd May '18 - 5:13pm

    The simple fact is that in this party the Leader leads, but does not and cannot command.
    Labour is tearing itself apart over anti-Semitism, which the current UKIP leader defended on the Daily Politics on 1/5/2018 with a quote from the Koran. Ken Livingstone awaits a hearing.
    The Tories are trying to whip their MPs over Brexit, while senior and well informed elected members, such as Ken Clarke, continue to defend their rights to free speech and the national interest.

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