Asking an evangelical Christian whether or not they think being gay is a sin is a deeply cynical and opportunistic journalistic ploy. Take it from a broadcast journalist, I know what they're up to. Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News knew the answer; we all know the answer, so why did she ask it?

She asked it because it would make a neat headline leading to well-orchestrated and predictable faux-outrage from the opportunistically offended, led – as ever – by Owen Jones. This would then spark a 24-hour pandemic of outrage, only to be largely forgotten in a few days by the ever-amnesic Twittersphere.

I would ask those expressing their outrage today a few questions of my own: Do you believe in a man's right, in private, to have his own free thought? Yes, even when he is a politician.

Do you support a man's right to hold his own private religious beliefs? Yes, even when he is a politician. And do you honestly believe Tim Farron is a homophobe? Really? I would sooner accuse a cow of being a Nazi.

When asked last year by Newman whether he thought gay people were sinners, he answered "We're all sinners" which is, admittedly some clumsy double-talk. But look at his voting record. This is not a man to be feared by the LGBT community. He has fought for us, regardless of what God is whispering in his ear, so let's focus on more pressing issues.

In truth, though his passive aggressive interrogators profess to be the defenders of free will, they are nothing of the sort. They believe a man should be cornered and harangued because he might have a quiet, private feeling about something with which they do not agree. The dictionary definition of bigot is "a person who is intolerant towards those holding different opinions".

Tim Farron
Tim Farron came under fire for refusing to say whether he believes homosexuality is sinful Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

I am an atheist. To me, all religion is absurd and any suggestion that gay people are sinners because they are gay is laughable. I would speculate that Tim Farron's Christianity and his experiences with gay people does cause stress-fractures in the foundation of his religious beliefs. It's something I reported on for the BBC in Northern Ireland.

Deeply religious politicians there struggle daily with the tussle between their political and personal lives. As the former Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt told me, "I would describe myself as a struggling Christian. I think same sex marriage is particularly challenging. I'm not homophobic but as a religious man I cannot say I support same-sex marriage. I think it's very important to be consistent with the values I hold."

It is a somewhat schizophrenic reality and not a very healthy one at that; but it is a reality nonetheless and in an open democracy where good, honest religious people are allowed to be politicians, we must accept their points of view and hope they reflect us in the decisions they take in parliament. That, it seems clear to me, is what Tim Farron has always done.

Certainly Mr Farron is a struggling Christian at the moment, if not because of his theological turmoil, then because he now has the harpies on his back.

He makes a sad victim, like a dog being swarmed over and engorged by flies. When there is so much at stake in this power-grab snap election, the loudest voices are screaming complete irrelevance.

Tim Farron has stood up for LGBT rights and he has vowed to continue championing equality. Yes he has been criticised for not joining the charge for equal marriage with as much gusto as some but we ought not to crucify him for that. He did support equal marriage and any suggestion that the leader of the Liberal Democrats is illiberal on issues of sexuality is ridiculous.

Personally, I struggle to see any man as my enemy simply because he is religious. Though we might disagree with the tenets of his faith, I owe myself an open mind. Gay people have spent too many centuries suffering at the hands of those who closed theirs. I have fallen in love with a Catholic man, I have been inspired by a Christian man at work and I was given life by a Christian woman.

Calling Tim Farron a disgrace for trying to avoid a fruitless and irrelevant dissection of his private religious belief is disgraceful and I call shame on those deluded cynics attempting to destroy him for it.