Together with his fellow officers of the group Christians in Parliament, Tim has signed a letter to Lord Smith of Finsbury, the Chairman of the Advertising Standards Agency. It wants the Agency to overturn its ban on Christian groups trying to recruit new members by claiming that God can heal.
The letter is reproduced in full by Total Politics and is toe-curlingly embarrassing. Here is the silliest part:
You might be interested to know that I (Gary Streeter) received divine healing myself at a church meeting in 1983 on my right hand, which was in pain for many years. After prayer at that meeting, my hand was immediately free from pain and has been ever since. What does the ASA say about that? I would be the first to accept that prayed for people do not always get healed, but sometimes they do. That is all this sincere group of Christians in Bath are claiming.
It is interesting to note that since the traumatic collapse of the footballer Fabrice Muamba the whole nation appears to be praying for a physical healing for him. I enclose some media extracts. Are they wrong also and will you seek to intervene?Religious faith is important to many people in the Liberal Democrats and in politics generally. It is certainly important to Tim Farron - just look at his choice of most and least favourite books for Total Politics from 2009, which have been preserved for posterity by Lib Dem Voice.
And I blogged recently about my feeling that proselytising atheists are as irritating as their Christian counterparts and in much the same way.
But with all those caveats entered, it has to be admitted that this is a pretty dreadful letter. And it is dreadful because it makes God look silly. The picture of the Almighty that emerges of it is of someone who is obsessed with celebrity - why is a Premiership footballer more deserving of healing and anyone else.
The letter makes Gary Streeter look even sillier than God. I would be interested to know why Streeter thinks God healed him while ignoring the prayers of those whose loved ones die in agony.
I am not an expert at religion, being a High Church atheist myself, but I suspect a letter that makes God look morally capricious and obsessed with celebrity is bad theology.