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Lord Murphy reviews 'A Mucky Business: Why Christians Should Get Involved in Politics'

Brighton, September 2016: Then-party leader Tim Farron delivers his keynote speech to the Liberal Democrat Party Conference | Alamy

Lord Murphy of Torfaen

Lord Murphy of Torfaen

3 min read

Tim Farron has produced an interesting and convincing case for the benefits of wider Christian engagement in issues that affect everyday life

I served for 10 years in the House of Commons and I regarded Tim Farron as a sincere and hardworking MP with a social conscience. His latest book – A Mucky Business: Why Christians should get involved in politics – confirms my opinion of him. He is, obviously, a deeply committed Evangelical Christian and the book is written from that position in the church. He has been helped by five people – Josh Price, Jo Latham, Megan Hills, Micah Parmour and Daniel Payne – all of whom have either worked with Tim Farron or who have close connections with him.

Tim, of course, faced much criticism over his Christian views when he stood, successfully, for the Liberal Democrat leadership after their severe defeat in 2015.

In particular, he was questioned over his views on abortion and same sex marriage. What this book does is to argue the case, in my view convincingly, that there is far more to Christian involvement in politics than debates on those issues. Christians, he says, should involve themselves in policies on education, social justice, war and peace, the health service and poverty. They should be concerned about international aid and climate change.

It is true that the latest census figures reveal a decline in people professing a faith, but there are still millions of professed Christians in the United Kingdom, including in Northern Ireland, where I can personally attest to its significance.

The whole book puts the case for Christians becoming active in politics at every level and shows how they can make a real difference. He doesn’t, of course, say that Christians should belong to one political party and, rightly, observes that the mainstream parties can embrace men and women of faith.

His great hero is William Wilberforce

An interesting feature of the book is that he uses individual case studies of Christians in politics who have very different views, ranging from Paul Boateng to Peter Hitchens! His great hero is, however, William Wilberforce and he devotes almost a chapter to this great reformer.

Tim never underestimates the problems he and other Christians in modern day secular society face, but he relies heavily on the power of prayer, and it is good to see him make the case, as an Evangelical Christian, for involvement in left of centre politics, since many feel that Christians like Tim naturally veer towards the right.

Being a Christian in Parliament can sometimes be trying, especially over so-called conscience issues like abortion, assisted dying and sexuality. Christians will differ among themselves on these matters, but I have always maintained that they should be the subject of free votes, and if your constituents don’t like what you believe, then they can use the ballot box to remove you. I and other cabinet ministers almost resigned over the Human Embryology Act because a free vote was being denied, but, in the end, it was resolved.

Tim and I completely respect the right of people to disagree with us, but we also expect that our views are respected too. 

Many of us take our oaths on the Bible or some other sacred text; prayers are also said daily in both Houses; 26 bishops in the Lords contribute thoughtful and compassionate views in debates. There’s still a role for us Christians to help make our world a better place.

Lord Murphy of Torfaen is a Labour peer

A Mucky Business: Why Christians Should Get Involved in Politics
By: Tim Farron
Publisher: IVP publishing

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Read the most recent article written by Lord Murphy of Torfaen - Tribute to Lord Morris of Aberavon

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