Articles – The Centre for Independent Studies

A most dangerous form of Western Liberalism

Robert Forsyth

05 May 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

RF tim farronThe outcry against UK Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron’s delay in stating whether or not he personally believes homosexuality to be a sin — despite he and his party supporting LGBTI rights including marriage — has pointed to an emerging threat to the coherence of western liberal societies. It hinders the integration of people with strong religious convictions.

A sound and integrated liberal society is one in which all its members are committed to its liberal and tolerant ideals, at least as far as the civil rights of others are concerned. But outcries like that against Farron send the message that you must not only give such support to the full civil rights of your fellow citizens but you must morally agree with their behaviour — and believe that God does too. (After all, discussions of ‘what is sin’ do, as Farron tried vainly to point out, involve theological questions.)

The thing about those with deep religious convictions is that, whether rightly or wrongly, they believe that they have an overriding obligation to obey God in such matters. This is true of the devout Muslim, and for that matter Christian, Jewish or any other serious religious adherent. Therefore insisting they must personably agree with behaviour which they, again rightly or wrongly, believe God has declared to be sin simply becomes a price too high to pay for inclusion in liberal society. So they are left outside.

The problem is that not only is such an insistence in itself illiberal — after all one of the marks of a liberal society is that its members tolerate and give freedom to views and behaviour they may not agree with — but that by setting a barrier to the inclusion of the devout creates a recipe for a dangerously divided nation. It is a most dangerous form of Western liberalism.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email