Tim Farron represented the ideals of liberalism, a man who was no doubt a product of his faith but placed the rights and freedoms of others above all else. A devout Christian with an almost impeccable record on LGBT+ rights. This was despite his own evangelical views, views which have a torturous relationship with sin and repentance. Farron instead put liberalism first and let his actions speak ahead of his own beliefs. He stated during the campaign he supported the Liberal Democrat policy of secularism and believed a free society should not attempt to guide personal morality. Yet all the media could fathom conveying was his apparent homophobia.
All those who hastily categorised Farron as the homophobic Christian, failed to see he represented the most tolerant form of Christianity presented to them. One which bore the mark of egalitarianism. This notion did not materialise in the campaign, instead he became a topic of conversation and gossip fuelled by our sound-bite politics. However if you had been a campaigner for LGBT+ rights for the past few decades, you know exactly which party has made the real difference. The party which has pushed for legislation to create the equal society we currently experience no matter your sexuality. The party which Farron had supported whole-heartedly ever since he joined when he was 16.
To typecast Tim Farron as a typical Christian would also be nothing but more than a smear campaign. He held the progressive views similar to any other Liberal Democrat on the issue of religion and the state. The Liberal Democrats have had the policy to disestablish the Church of England since Lloyd George. A policy which Farron supports and has said so (Robert Peston interview)- "I have always been somebody who believes very strongly in a secular society. I... believe very much that Church should be disestablished."
However what became of that Peston interview was a lazy re-iteration of Tim Farron's failure to deny gay sex is a sin.
What was far more interesting was the last segment of the Peston interview where Farron outlines his own thoughts on his coexistence of faith and political ideology. "I think it is bad for a free society to have a state religion." And most striking of all, he stated "the notion of that you impose personal morality, religious morality is an outrage...and contrary to teachings of the Bible". A belief that I completely support.
Farron was picked to be leader because of his record of voting, his opposition to tuition fees and other coalition pitfalls. Yet he was personally attacked by the media and opposition parties on his beliefs and for some to continue this attack even after the campaign is over is cheap. John Rentoul writing for The Independent suggested he chose the wrong party. He stated Farron displayed an "unwillingness to tolerate gay sex", furthermore grouped Farron's views with that of the Church of England.
This is far removed from reality. Farron has called for the Church of England to be dissolved and religion to be practised under the absence of state guidance and also it is a stretch to say an "unwillingness" would lead to him delivering his admirable LGBT+ equality voting record.
He did not choose the wrong party, he chose the party which represented his Liberal values, one which transcended his Christianity. Unfortunately he was part of the middle ground that was swallowed up by both sides. As a Christian he wanted to abolish state religion, as a Liberal he was presented as a weak supporter of LGBT+ rights.
In a world where to have faith is to be considered an enemy of LGBT+ rights, he attempted to show there was another way - through liberalism. A personal monument to coexistence of the two factions - complexity is not a vice.
In the end, this election was not about theology, it was not about LGBT+ rights, it was about the direction of the country for the next five years. Jeremy Corbyn successfully convinced the public of this as Farron was placed in the realm of tabloid headlines. The man himself should be exonerated from personal blame, it is with a cruel and illiberal swipe to point fingers at a person who has demonstrated anything but intolerance. And that is what the media perpetuated, either through incompetence or a lacklustre search, almost all failed to find this nuance.
The campaign however is a different story, their failure to capture the country's imagination was evident (partly due to the portrayal of Farron). Nick Clegg said "you live by the sword, you die by the sword" in politics, as he departed the House of Commons and the same could be said for Farron and his campaign.
But it is time to dispel any rumours of Tim Farron's own illegitimacy due to his beliefs. He was a true Liberal, anyone who argues otherwise is merely carrying on the trend of illiberal intolerance.