What do Jacob Rees-Mogg and Tim Farron have in common? This might sound like the start to a bad joke but bear with me for a moment. Two vastly different individuals, from two opposing political parties, but they do share one increasingly rare characteristic. Farron and Rees-Mogg are practising Christians who also hold public office; making them ripe targets for cheap shots and unrelenting scrutiny from the media.
In the case of Tim Farron you might have thought that as the leader of the Lib Dems, a party founded in liberalism, that his own right to religious freedom would be challenged. This could not be any further from the reality. We saw the prolonged media campaign during the election period that was waged against Farron regarding his personal views on issues. Note that Farron had stated repeatedly that he had and would continue to distinguish between his own beliefs with the beliefs held by his party.
Farron’s voting record indicates that his claim about how he separates his private beliefs when it comes to voting on legislation is founded in truth. In 2013 he voted for Same-Sex Marriage, in 2014 he voted to extend this to military personnel serving outside of the U.K, and his overall ‘rating’ for being in favour of legislation for homosexual citizens sat at a mark of 90.4%. Although he had in 2007 voted against a bill that would have restricted the rights of a business to reject customers on religious grounds, in 2015 Farron expressed his strong support of a court ruling that suggested a bakery had acted unlawfully for not baking a cake for a homosexual couple. Reading this voting record you could easily make the mistake of thinking that he’d be darling of the British Left.
But despite this squeaky clean Leftist voting record, for seemingly all of the 2017 election campaign Farron was constantly peppered by questions about his own personal views on homosexuality and abortion. Farron responded by stating his belief that ‘gay sex’ is not a sin and that he is pro-choice. But even this was not enough as even his own party began turning on him; with the Lib Dem life peer to the House of Lords Brian Paddick resigning from his role as the party’s home affairs spokesperson. Not soon after Farron tended his resignation as leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Take a read of some excerpts from his resignation speech:
‘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.‘
‘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.’
‘I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in. In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.‘
The hounding of Jacob Rees-Mogg and his religious views began after an interview on Good Morning Britain. Despite reminding the hosts that matters such as abortion and same sex marriage are not determined by the party and are conscience votes, they continually suggested that if able to Rees-Mogg had an intention to change the law to reflect his beliefs on these issues. But why should we be at all surprised? Tim Farron made every conceivable to pander to the far-Left in his party, and still he was punished for the crime of holding personal Christian beliefs.
Why should we be at all surprised that the same treatment has begun to be applied to Jacob Rees-Mogg?