CHRISTIANS can be members of the Liberal Democrats, not least
because God is a "liberal", a new book, published by the Liberal
Democrat Christian Forum (LDCF), argues.
Liberal Democrats Do God, published last week by LDCF,
contains a series of essays by Christian Liberal Democrat MPs. In
the introduction to the book, the Minister for Pensions, Steve
Webb, says: "The most fundamental reason why Christians should feel
at home in the Liberal Democrats is that the character of God, as
revealed in the Christian Gospel, would suggest that God must be a
liberal! This assertion will shock or offend some, but I believe
that there is no other conclusion that can be drawn from a reading
of the New Testament. . . The Gospel makes it clear that human
beings have freedom. . . There must be something very precious
about freedom, a value dear to the heart of every liberal."
A chapter written by the president of the Liberal Democrats, Tim
Back Page Interview, 20 May 2011), makes a case for the
intellectual credibility of Christianity. If the stories in the
Gospels weren't true, he says, "there were hundreds of people to
contradict them - but they did not do so." If an account of the
1987 General Election said that "David Owen had come out in favour
of unilateral nuclear disarmament", there would still be
eye-witnesses around who "would have contradicted this".
In another chapter, the MP for Leeds North West, Gregh
Mulholland, warns that "a dangerous and almost imperceptible drift"
has taken place in the Liberal Democrats in recent years: "a drift
away from tolerance [of religion] . . . towards a moral
conformity", which views religious beliefs as "something to be
reserved for private worship that should be kept firmly out of the
political arena. . .
"The received wisdom amongst too many Liberal Democrats, from
MPs and peers to the wider membership, seems to be this: believe
what we believe when it comes to 'moral' issues or issues of
conscience, or you are not a Liberal Democrat. The trouble with
that view is that it is not only illiberal, it is the very
antithesis of liberalism."
This became evident during the debate on the Marriage (Same Sex
Couples) Bill, he says, when "freedom of conscience seemed to be
pushed out of the debate, and anyone who dared to do or say
anything but wave a simplistic 'pro equal marriage' banner was
deemed to be intolerant, 'against' gay rights, and actually
therefore against the party and 'liberalism'."