Liberal theology and Liberal politics will be on the agenda at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Brighton this evening.
The Liberal Democrat Christian Forum (LDCF) - the grouping of Christians within the Liberal Democrat Party - will launch a 'Liberalism and Christianity Project' at a fringe event tonight.
A number of Liberal Democrat MPs openly identify themselves as Christian, including Lib Dem President Simon Hughes, and Steven Webb who is know for his Evangelical faith. However, many Lib Dem Christians feel they face a particular challenge around the word 'Liberal'.
In a statement about the project the LDCF said: "From a political perspective ‘liberal’ is often used as shorthand for ‘soft on crime’ or ‘wishy-washy’ and ineffective. Theologically the term ‘liberal’ can be used to stand for a rejection of various Christian doctrines including that of the Resurrection or the Trinity. The stereotypes linked to these uses of the term are unhelpful at the best of times, but when applied across the political/religious divide they lead to additional confusion."
The project aims to assist Lib Dem Christians in explaining the conjunction between their faith and politics, as well as exploring the different definitions of “Liberal” in today’s society.
In particular they want to encourage Christians that it is possible to be a political Liberal without compromising personal faith.
Amongst the speakers at the launch event tonight, will be co-director of the thinktank Ekklesia, Jonathan Bartley.
The project will involve a consultation process, a “parliamentary symposium”, and the production of a critique of Liberalism and Christianity, including materials that will help both Christians and Lib Dems to understand each other and themselves.
The initiative follows similar ones by Christian groupings within both the Labour and Conservative Parties, aimed at reaching out to churches and involving them more fully in party politics.