Tim Farron says he was wrong to deny gay sex was sinful

Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has spoken of his regret at saying he did not believe gay sex was sinful after sustained media pressure on him.

Farron stepped down in June last year following a disappointing election result for his party, saying in a dramatic resignation statement that he had found it impossible to be both a party leader and an evangelical Christian.

ReutersIn his resignation statement Farron said: '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.'

Pressed continually on his beliefs about homosexuality, he had responded by stressing his commitment to equality and his voting record. However, in April he said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'I don't believe gay sex is a sin. I take the view that as a political leader my job is not to pontificate on theological matters.'

However, speaking to Premier Radio's Inspirational Breakfast presenters John Pantry and Rosie Wright, he said of his media interviewers: 'All they wanted to do is talk about my Christian beliefs and what they actually meant.

'Foolishly and wrongly, [I] attempted to push it away by giving an answer that, frankly, was not right.'

He also reflected on the makeup of his Liberal Democrat headquarters staff, saying: 'I had a wonderful team around me at HQ but with one exception, there were no Christians; it was not their fault they didn't understand the issue.'

While Farron was criticised for his apparently evasive response to the repeated questions about his faith, his resignation provoked a debate about the place of conservative Christians in public life. In a Theos lecture in November he said liberalism was 'eating itself' because of its pandering to the 'tyranny of opinion'. He concluded: 'If you are a Christian, crave pure, pluralistic liberalism. If you are a liberal, don't be one whose liberalism eats itself, leaving nothing more than a respectable tyranny.'

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