Liberal Democrats Accused of Religious Intolerance After Deselecting Christian Candidate

The Liberal Democrats deselected Christian parliamentary candidate David Campanale, sparking accusations of religious intolerance and bias. Campanale's supporters are urging the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate alleged breaches of equality law and the party's constitution.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Liberal Democrats Accused of Religious Intolerance After Deselecting Christian Candidate

Liberal Democrats Accused of Religious Intolerance After Deselecting Christian Candidate

The Liberal Democrats are facing criticism and accusations of religious intolerance following the deselection of David Campanale, a Christian parliamentary candidate for the Sutton and Cheam constituency. Campanale, a former BBC journalist with a long history of involvement with the party, was removed as the candidate after a two-year campaign by activists and local party members who objected to his faith.

Why this matters: This incident raises concerns about the treatment of Christians in British politics and the potential for religious discrimination in the political sphere. It also highlights the need for political parties to ensure that their selection processes are fair and free from bias, particularly when it comes to candidates' religious beliefs.

Campanale, 60, is an Anglican with a strong background in charity work inspired by his faith. He served as a director of Tearfund, a Christian charity, and helped break major news stories during his 30-year career at the BBC, including the first English language televised interview with Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who spent years on death row after being convicted of blasphemy.

The controversy surrounding Campanale's deselection has sparked a broader debate about the treatment of Christians in British politics. Supporters are urging the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate "multiple alleged breaches of equality law and our party constitution". Lizzie Jewkes, director of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum (LDCF), is calling for an independent investigation into the matter, stating, "It's entirely localised. Somebody has decided they don't like Christians, or David."

During the campaign against him, Campanale faced hostile questioning from activists, with one asking if he felt he was being persecuted "like Jesus," while a local party official allegedly told him, "We had no idea we were selecting another Tim Farron," referring to the former Lib Dem leader who faced scrutiny over his religious views. Campanale denies charges that he was not sufficiently open about his faith during the selection process and is currently appealing the deselection decision.

The Liberal Democrats have insisted it is easy to be a Christian in their party, despite Campanale's claims of bullying and harassment due to his beliefs. Jewkes believes the backlash against Campanale is an isolated incident and not representative of the party as a whole. The EHRC is currently considering the complaint filed by Campanale's supporters.

The controversy has overshadowed an important contest for the Liberal Democrats in the Sutton and Cheam constituency, a key "Blue Wall" seat. As the party grapples with accusations of religious intolerance and double standards, the incident has reignited debates about the role of faith in British politics and the treatment of Christian candidates. The outcome of Campanale's appeal and the EHRC's decision on whether to investigate the matter will be closely watched by political observers and religious groups alike.

Key Takeaways

  • Lib Dem candidate David Campanale was deselected due to his Christian faith.
  • Activists and local party members objected to his faith, sparking accusations of religious intolerance.
  • Campanale's supporters are urging the EHRC to investigate alleged breaches of equality law.
  • The incident raises concerns about the treatment of Christians in British politics.
  • The outcome of Campanale's appeal and EHRC's decision will be closely watched by political observers and religious groups.