There’s a transcript of John Humprhys’ interview with Farron (God section) below, thanks to the New Statesman blog where Isabel Hardman has written a very good article, albeit with a dissonant headline.
I’m not quite sure why all this focus about Christianity has been pointed, laser-like, at Tim Farron.
Charles Kennedy was a Roman Catholic, as is Shirley Williams. David Steel, Theresa May and Gordon Brown are all the children of priests and have, by all accounts, remained faithful. Simon Hughes is a massive “God botherer”.
And David Cameron has said that he is “evangelical about his Christian faith”.
And, yet, I can’t remember Today asking any of them if they asked God for wisdom before making a major decision.
What seems to be strange here is that John Humprhys is assuming a norm of Christian behaviour which is that you put “Christian” on your passport and census entries, turn up for hatches, matches and dispatches, and pray only when you are in imminent danger of shuffling off this mortal coil and attending an appointment with Saint Peter at the pearly gates.
He appears to be implying with his questioning that it is really odd for a Christian to pray to God for wisdom in making big decisions. We don’t do that do we? We’re British. We leave all that to foreigners. That’s very odd.
I’m reminded of the question: “if you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
I do not judge anyone. But it is relatively reasonable to expect someone who calls themselves a Christian to occasionally open a Bible, to occasionally pray and go to Church. And yes, one would expect a Christian to ask God for wisdom in making big decisions.
So, if someone is saying they are a Christian, it is automatic that one would expect them to ask God for wisdom with big decisions.
In fact, if a politician calls themselves a Christian and does not pray to God for help with big decisions, then that is really strange. Now that would be real justification for a Humprhys inquest.
Tim Farron and John Humphrys on God – transcript
John Humphrys: So let us talk about your leadership now and your convictions and your beliefs, particularly your religious beliefs. You said that you sought advice from God before you decided whether to put your name forward for the leadership. Would you seek advice from God when it came to making important policy decisions, such as whether to invade Iraq, or whatever it may be?
Tim Farron: Well, this is the shocking revelation that a Christian says his prayers sometimes –
Humphrys: No, no, I’m not, I’m in no way dismissing or denigrating, or whatever, it’s a very very serious question. And let me ask you if I may to put it into a little bit of context, I remember asking Tony Blair about the invasion of Iraq –
Farron: Yeah, and I remember you doing it –
Humphrys: – and he said, I only know what I believe. Now, many people find that a rather chilling thought and what I’m trying to get from you is whether when you have a big decision, you find yourself in a position, you might find yourself in a coalition government sometime, or whatever, when you find yourself in a position, do you say to yourself, do you pray to God to give you the right, the wisdom that you need, and do you take your guidance from your religious conviction? That is a very important point.
Farron: I mean, for what it’s worth, a very, really important thing to seek is just that, it is wisdom. To make the right choice on the basis –
Humphrys: And you turn to God for that?
Farron: – and the Tony Blair equivalent, analogy is an interesting one, because that is where I think he chose to follow to follow some form of belief, whatever it might be, where the evidence pointed in the other direction. And I think what we saw with Tony Blair was not religious conviction, but a kind of, er, being suckered into the awe of being in the orbit of the United States president, and believing some of the faulty evidence that was put before him.
Humphrys: Yes, that was a factor but I’m trying to get to what you believe and how you would exercise that belief as a leader.
Farron: Yep, well I think, as a leader, and in any position, you have to make judgements based on the evidence in front of you –
Humphrys: So you wouldn’t ask God for that?
Farron: Yes, but I don’t ask for him to present the answer to me, because that doesn’t happen.
Humphrys: Well, you asked him about whether you should run for the leadership!
Farron: Well you seek wisdom, and wisdom is the ability to make the best choices on the basis of the evidence in front of you, and for the Iraq War –
Humphrys: It seems a bit of a cop-out, though –
Farron: Well, no it isn’t, because in the end these things are not black and white, people can believe similar things and come to completely different conclusions.
Humphrys: So why did you ask God for guidance on whether you should run for the leadership of your party, then?
Farron: Well, you said earlier on that this was a genuine question and wasn’t meant to be facetious in any way, so my response is still the same which is that it is hardly surprising that someone of faith says prayers, and that is what we do. But I’m also of the view that everybody comes to every situation with a set of value judgements, and mine are liberal, mine are the view that when you go into these sorts of circumstances…