Why has being Christian become so controversial in this election?

Twitter / Jesus HouseTheresa May was interviewed on stage by Pastor Agu, head of Jesus House, last weekend.

Perhaps it is a sign of the increasingly secular times, at least in the political world, that religion appears to have become a running theme in the current general election – and not in a good way.

In the latest of a series of stories relating to the faith of various candidates, the Conservative MP for Lewes Maria Caulfield, who is a practising Christian, was targeted by 'Progressive Alliance' campaigners dressed in nun costumes and singing 'How do you solve a problem like Maria?'

In a bitter war of words, Caulfield accused the flash mob of 'preaching hate,' which prompted Progressive Sussex to describe Caulfield's claims as 'astounding' and 'disresectful' in the wake of the terror attacks while the Liberal Democrat candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell urged her Tory opponent to find the humour in the event.

But Caulfield said: 'While many on the march may have found it a bit of fun, I see no funny side in them marching down the street chanting "get her out" with placards with my photo on and dressing up as a nun, perhaps to ridicule me as a Christian MP. In the final days of the campaign I would urge opposition parties to be more responsible considering what happened to my colleague Jo Cox this time last year. Let's stick to fighting on policies rather than personal attacks and while we may not agree on issues let us truly be tolerant of each other's views.'

The row follows another controversial event last weekend, when Theresa May found herself under attack for joining pastor Agu Iruweku at Jesus House for a church service followed by a question and answer session. Peter Tatchell, the human rights campaigner, said that by meeting the pastor the Prime Minister had 'recklessly colluded with homophobic Christian extremists'.

And last month, there was a furore when it emerged that the Tory candidate in Hove and Portslade claimed that she 'healed' a man who was deaf in both ears.

Kristy Adams said in a recording obtained by the Mirror that she laid her hands on the man's ears and said: 'Be healed in Jesus' name.'

'He was a Jewish evangelist,' said Adams. 'Jewish people come to God. He had hearing aids in both ears and I just thought that wasn't right. It just annoyed me. I said "I don't think that's right that you should be serving God like this. Can I pray for you?" His eyes lit up, which is unusual when you offer to pray for someone for healing. He took his hearing aids out and I just put my hands on his ears and said "be healed in Jesus' name". He took my hands off and he could actually hear. I don't know if he was more surprised than me!'

BBCTim Farron was again questioned about his evangelical faith on a Question Time special on Monday night

And then there is poor old Tim Farron. The embattled Liberal Democrat leader has apparently failed to make much headway in this election, with his party languishing in single figures in most polls, partly, perhaps, because of the incessant media questioning of his views on homosexuality.

Only last night, Farron pleaded with viewers on BBC1's Question Time to accept that he was not 'running to be pope' as he fended off questions that began as a media confection over his opinions on whether gay sexual relations were a sin.

During the course of this curious general election campaign, Farron, an evangelical Christian, has been forced to row back not only on his views on homosexuality but also on abortion, declaring himself to be 'pro-choice'. He has, arguably, been smothered by the blanket social liberalism in the media and political spheres at Westminster.

The Farron questioning showed that the very concept of sin caused alarm in the political world.

And the other stories show that, during this election at least, many in the media and politics have a problem with the existence of religion itself.

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