UK Lib Dem Leader Resigns: Impossible to Live as Faithful Evangelical, Society Intolerant

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron speaks during their General Election campaign launch in Manchester, Britain April 21, 2017.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron speaks during their General Election campaign launch in Manchester, Britain April 21, 2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo)

Tim Farron, the head of the Liberal Democrats party in the U.K., has resigned from his position, admitting he has been "torn" between politics and remaining faithful to Jesus Christ.

"The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader," Farron, who is an evangelical, said in his speech to staff at the party's London headquarters on Wednesday, as reported by Sky News.

"A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment," he continued.

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"To be a political leader — especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 — and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me."

As Premier pointed out, Farron faced a number of questions surrounding his stance on social issues throughout the 2017 General Election campaign, particularly on his views on homosexuality.

In interviews he first declined to answer whether he believes gay sex is a sin, though later suggested that he does not believe it to be a sin.

Questions concerning his feelings on the issue lingered on, however.

In his Wednesday speech, he accused his critics of intolerance for being unaccepting of his Christian beliefs. 

"In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society," his statement concluded. 

Farron also said, "I'm a liberal to my finger tips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me."

"There are Christians in politics who take the view that they should impose the tenets of faith on society, but I have not taken that approach because I disagree with it — it's not liberal and it is counterproductive when it comes to advancing the gospel," he added.

"Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in."

In the past Farron has also said that abortion, which is legal in the U.K., is "wrong."

"Abortion is wrong ... Society has to climb down from the position that says there is nothing objectionable about abortion before a certain time," he said back in 2017.

A senior Liberal Democrat official, who wasn't named, called Farron a "great guy," according to The Telegraph, but added:

"His views are not compatible with being the leader of the Liberal Democrats, he was — on balance — unhelpful during the campaign."

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Church of England, wrote a Tweet in support of the politician, where he said: "Tim Farron honorable & decent. Regardless of party if he can't be in politics media & politicians have questions."

Farron's resignation comes at a time when the Church of England and the Anglican Communion face significant internal debates over their stance on gay marriage.

Liberal-leaning churches, such as the Scottish Episcopal Church and the U.S. Episcopal Church, have embraced gay marriage, despite Welby defending the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Conservatives within the Communion, however, have also moved against Welby, because of his perceived weakness in defending the traditional definition of marriage. GAFCON, a worldwide group of conservative Anglicans, elected last week its own bishop to serve believers.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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