A number of the protagonists in the recent political dramas were claiming for the Liberal Party that it was a broad church – this in defiance of all the evidence to the contrary. The term broad church was coined in the late 1840s in opposition to the fragmentation of the Anglican Church into High Church and Low Church. The broad church was not an organised group or faction like those others but comprised those Anglicans whose views were tolerant and liberal, and who could contemplate a situation in which some individuals favoured a High Church approach to dogma and ritual and others were of the Low Church in their views and choices. Live and let live was the broad-church position.
As the term church came to be applied to groups with particular aims or points of view, not necessarily religious, so broad church was applied to those people who would allow for different points of view to be acceptably held within the same organisation. It remains to be seen whether the Liberal Party can live up to this description or not.