Tim Farron has put God before his party, as he quit as leader of the Liberal Democrats.
His Christian faith and his views on homosexuality and abortion are fiercely at odds with the Lib Dems’ pro-gay, pro-choice policies.
The election campaign has been a personal nightmare for him. Besides the party making only modest gains, from nine to 12 seats, he was besieged by questions about his Christian views.
On election night, he only just scraped home in his own Lake District constituency, seeing a near-9,000 majority slump to under 800.
He has probably jumped before he was pushed. He was likely to have faced a leadership challenge had he not resigned.
Hours before his shock statement to his MPs, the party had already announced plans to elect a deputy leader.
At the same time, Brian Paddick, the gay ex-police chief who was twice the party’s candidate for London mayor, had quit as home affairs spokesman in protest at Mr Farron’s views, in a move seen as the beginning of a coup against the leader.
Since the General Election, the party also now has more leaders-in-waiting, in the “re-treads” Sir Vince Cable and Sir Ed Davey, than before. There’s also Norman Lamb, whom Mr Farron defeated in 2015 after Nick Clegg resigned.
But the early favourite with the bookies is Jo Swinson, who was a junior minister in the Coalition government. She lost her East Dunbartonshire seat in 2015 but has now won it back in this General Election.
“The early money has all been for Jo Swinson and we have already cut her price from 6/4 to evens,” says William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams.
Many of the party’s activists blame Mr Farron for the Lib Dems’ failure to do better in the election. They believe that but for the row over their leader’s faith, they could have won more seats.
For instance, Sir Simon Hughes had hopes of winning back his south London seat, Greg Mullholland lost his seat in Leeds and Sarah Olney failed to repeat her by-election triumph over Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park.
But the biggest casualty of the election for the Liberal Democrats was the former deputy prime minister and party leader Nick Clegg in another big-city seat with a high student population, in Sheffield.
Throughout the General Election campaign, Mr Farron was quizzed about previous statements about homosexuality and abortion and his Commons voting record on both issues.
Back in 2007, he told a magazine: “Abortion is wrong. Society has to climb down from the position that says there is nothing objectionable about abortion before a certain time.”
Then in 2015 he was asked in an interview if gay sex was also a sin and replied: “We’re all sinners”. He also insisted he would not “spend my time talking theology”.
But during this campaign, after repeated questions about his religious views, he said: “I don’t believe gay sex is a sin.
“I take the view that as a political leader, my job is not to pontificate on theological matters but this has become a talking point, an issue – and in that case, if people have got the wrong opinion of what I think of those issues, it’s right to correct it.”
Asked why his answer had changed, he said: “I’m quite careful about how I talk about my faith. I don’t bang on about it, but I don’t make a secret of it either.
“When I get asked theological questions, which I don’t think many other politicians do get asked, I took the view that it would be better for me to say this is a matter of theological nitpicking, and let’s talk about the politics.”
Then, asked about his previous evasiveness, he said: “I didn’t want to get into a series of questions unpicking the Bible.”
Now he becomes the latest in a succession of Lib Dem ex-leaders. His record does not compare well with Charles Kennedy or Nick Clegg.
And while he was once the darling of the activists, now he will be blamed for the party’s poor showing in the General Election.