Friday, April 04, 2008

Blair calls for faith to be rescued from extremism

I was pleased to be invited to attend last night's lecture by Tony Blair at Westminster Cathedral. The event got off to a bit of a farcical start when Tony mistook shouts from the back of the cathedral asking for the sound to be turned up for hecklers shouting him down - as he said, he is more used to people not wanting him to speak than to those expressing concern because they cannot hear him!

Blair's message was that religion could "awaken the world's conscience" and help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to eradicate poverty and hunger. He warned against the "extremist and exclusionary tendency in religion today". He argued that it is not extreme for a person to believe their own religion is the only faith - "most people of faith do that" - but said it should not stop them respecting other religions. He said people must accept that faith is not in decline and the world has become more economically, politically and ideologically independent.

"The divide, then, is between those who see this as positive, the opening up offering opportunity, and those who see it as threatening and wish to close it back down," he said.

Blair took the opportunity to set out plans for his new Faith Foundation, to be launched later this year. The Foundation will focus on bringing together Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists to promote faith as a relevant and positive force for good.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

religion has been the cause of so much misery and deceit in the world and I am appalled at a how many so called 'progressives' give it the time of day. Blair is in with the Catholic church which is just one example of hypocritical, superstitious nonsense which blights the planet.

Mike Ion said...

I agree that religion has cuased misery in the past but so too has extreme fascism and communism. However I also believe that many people of faith have something to contribute to the world and desire to make the planet less unjust and more equitable.

Andy Irlande said...

I agree with the anonymous poster. And we shouldn't just let people wallow in ignorance, they need to realise the fallacy of religions and religiousnesss.

Andy Irlande said...

Give me a detailed response/counterargument at my new blog http://mkoa.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

But what a dismal vision of human nature put forward by Blair. We don't need bishops and priests to work out poverty, corruption, climate change etc are issues that need action. Poverty or corruption are wrong because they are wrong. To say an issue only matters if someone who believes in the paranormal and superstition says so is utterly depressing. And who are the main opponents of progressive politics all over the globe today? Like in Spain, in the USA or even in Iraq, yes it's those men of faith.

Mike Ion said...

In fairness I don't think Blair was saying that the issues you list only matter becuase people of faith say they do. What I think he was saying was that politics, and in particular democratic politics, involves the art of compromise, the art of what's doable, what's achievable and what's possible. For some people of faith this is the greatest challenge that living in a democracy raises. For some people having faith is having certainty, what matters is not what can be done given the circumstances, what matters is not pragmatism but principle. Therefore what is needed is a sense of proportion and a willingness to engage openly and fair-mindedly.

Anonymous said...

"the art of compromise"

How about actually having ideals and principles and sticking to them? or is that now so passée in New Labours brave new world?

wonkotsane said...

As the Monty Python team said ...

"He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy".

Bliar has a serious God complex.