Charles Moore

Tim Farron is the victim of a witch hunt

Tim Farron is the victim of a witch hunt
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Journalists have hunted down Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, about Christian views of homosexuality. Originally, they asked him the wrong question, doctrinally, by inquiring whether he thought ‘homosexuality’ was a sin. This was an easy one for him to repudiate, since an involuntary disposition is not a sin. I forbore to point this out, since I didn’t want to make their persecution of poor Mr Farron any easier, but by the beginning of this week, they had realised their mistake and began pressing him to state whether gay sex was a sin. (The Times covered this with the surprising headline: ‘Farron shrugs off gay sex row to target veteran’s seat’.) Mr Farron at first resisted their impertinence in asking a politician about matters of faith and pointed out that he had always supported gay rights.

Obviously the right people to turn to for answers on this sort of thing are the religious authorities, but they are so coy nowadays. My understanding is that the mainstream teaching of all the three monotheistic religions remains that all forms of genital sexual activity are sinful unless performed between husband and wife; and some of them are not permissible even then. In the old Catholic catechism, ‘the sin of Sodom’ is said to ‘cry aloud to Heaven for vengeance’ — as is the sin of oppressing widows and orphans — but the sin of Sodom is by no means exclusively a matter of ‘gay sex’. Mr Farron is right that we should not have to read about this in the Liberal Democrat manifesto. But he has now capitulated to the media and declared that he has decided that gay sex is not a sin. This is the secular equivalent of Henry of Navarre’s view that ‘Paris is worth a Mass.’

This is an extract from Charles Moore's Notes, which appears in the forthcoming issue of the Spectator, out tomorrow