Tim Farron resigned as leader of the U.K.’s Liberal Democrat party Wednesday, saying it was impossible to both follow Christ and lead his political party.
Farron announced his resignation in a televised address, a day after a gay Liberal Democrat leader resigned allegedly over Farron’s personal views on homosexuality. Questions about whether Farron thought homosexuality was a sin mired his campaign in controversy for several months before and during the U.K.’s latest general election. Farron said the ordeal made him feel torn between his faith and his politics, and took attention away from his party’s message.
“From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith,” Farron said. “I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience. Sometimes my answers could have been wiser. At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again, asked about matters to do with my faith. I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.”
British media questioned Farron several times about his views on homosexuality. Farron initially answered “We’re all sinners,” and then refused to clarify his position. Farron later said he did not view homosexuality as a sin.
“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 said.
Farron clarified that he did not believe in imposing his Christian views on the public and that, as “A liberal to (his) fingertips,” he strives to protect the liberties of those who believe differently than he does. Despite the friction, Farron also said his own beliefs have not been tolerated.
“Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in,” Farron said. “In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society. That’s why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.”
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