No room for atheists, Blair?

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has recently outed himself as quite a bit of a Catholic fundy, which fills me with no small horror as he’s still very active in politics.

Since leaving office, he has claimed he feared being branded a “nutter” if he talked about his religious views, which tells us a lot, and should tell him the same thing: if it sounds nutty, and will be perceived as nutty, it’s probably pistachios.

To be honest, I wouldn’t really care if he’s just quietly sitting at home believing in the soul-cleansing power of flagellation or whatever, but he’s donned some sort of POPE POWER superhero costume and set himself up as the next saviour of civilised society. Today he launched a “faith foundation” with three aims, to promote faith as a force for good, improve awareness between religions and tackle poverty and war. I do have to wonder if the latter is in there to make this initiative sound less nutty and biased. Blair said,

“Religious faith will be of the same significance to the 21st Century as political ideology was to the 20th Century.

“In an era of globalisation, there is nothing more important than getting people of different faiths and cultures to understand each other better and live in peace and mutual respect; and to give faith itself its proper place in the future.”

What about those of no faith, Blair?

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  1. “…and to give faith itself its proper place in the future.”
    I could tell him where to stick his faith. I can’t believe anyone still listens to the guy, after being caught leaving the beds of Murdoch and Desmond.

  2. Religious faith will be of the same significance to the 21st Century as political ideology was to the 20th Century?

    Oh good, considering the history of the 20th century that’s clearly something to look forward to :\ And where exactly did he pull this prediction from? So in the future the people of the world are going to coexist with “peace and mutual respect” because they are secure in the knowledge that their neighbors all share some vague form of “faith”? All the athiests will have to be dead or converted of course.

    And besides, there’s already a Pope based superhero and his name is Battle Pope. “When he’s not leading mass, he’s out kicking ass!” Tony Blair is just the suck, the only ass he can kick is his own.

  3. Tackle poverty and war? Coming from “The Poodle” himself? Though it could be interesting if his Jesus woo conflicts with Cherie Blair’s new age woo. Suffer not a witch and all that….

  4. So, first of all, my impression of Europe and religion was that you didn’t have to be too extreme to be considered a ‘nutter’ with regards to religion. They seemed to be a little more advanced in the not caring area.

    Secondly, atheism is definitely a category

  5. whoops!

    anyway, it’s a category, and if you single them out by saying ‘people of no faith’ it’s a little like you’re saying ‘getting everybody and atheists to understand eachother, blah blah’

    That, and he didn’t say religion, and if I were an atheist (which I’m working on . . .), I’d still have to have faith in mankind, or at the very least my close friends.

    Do you disagree?

  6. promote faith as a force for good, improve awareness between religions and tackle poverty and war

    It is odd. The two things that make Tony Blair stand out against his colleagues in the Labour Party are his strong Catholicism and his support of the war in Iraq. Why that might not conflict with the goal of tackling war and poverty is an exercise left to the reader.

    And for the advanced reader only, one might wonder how the fact the Pope has opposed the war in Iraq might get justified in Mr Blair’s head.

  7. Well, atheism is a category, but we’re not talking about categories. Blair specifically said ‘faiths’, and atheism is not a faith. It’s the lack of it. It’s very obvious that he’s excluding atheists because the standard wording for politicians has, for many years, been “people of all faiths and none”. He chose not to use that because this is his vision for a world dominated by faith in the same way it’s dominated by politics. And I don’t agree with him at all, unless we’re talking about stopping fundies blowing shit up.

    I think your impression is Europe and religion is fairly true, in that it would take less for someone to be branded a nutter (say, any sort of fundamentalism) than in the USA where you have a fundie for president. But this is because believing in a literal interpretation of a religious text and absolute religious authority (that’s the definition of religious fundy) IS nutty. It’s plain old mental.

  8. As I recall the number of athiests in England is fairly high so it seems he’s fighting an uphill battle and it doesn’t make sense that he would exclude athiests. Unless of course that’s what he’s really fighting.

  9. When I saw this article on the BBC website my first thought was “but what about us?” and my second was to wonder who’d comment about it first.

    I shall have to dig out my “Not In My Name” badge. Our Tone didn’t speak for me in February 2003, and he doesn’t speak for or to me now.

    And yes, it’s true that there’s a much lower level of background religiousity in England, so someone who publicly proclaims his or her faith is seen as well on the way to being a full-blown nutjob.

  10. Holy cow! He only became Catholic a year ago! I had forgotten . . . maybe he *is* a crazy . . . or he’s got some political angle? haha, I am skeptical of politicians without ulterior motives.

    Well, if “people of all faiths and none” is the standard in the UK, then I can see how you would be offended. He sounds like a jerk now. I can pretty solidly say that is not the standard in most of the US ;-).

  11. I doubt anything will come of it.

    1. Mainland Britian is one of the most secular countries in the world, so much so that during the 1997 election spin-doctor-in-chief Campbell said “We don’t do God” because claiming to be religious would have cost (yes COST) labour votes. Blair had to wait until he was out of office to mention his religion. Clearly religion and politics dont mix well with the British public

    2. Blair has no influence whatsoever. He’s the first PM to leave the House straight away after the end of office (except for those who died in the saddle). Traditionally Prime Ministers stay on for a couple of years (or decades) as an MP before they retire to the Lords, there is even a special place in the House where ex-PMs sit. He couldn’t even get on a town council now after snubbing the Westminster Village like that. Had he remained any MP he could have influenced the recent Embryo/Abortion Bill. He didn’t, He couldn’t, it passed. Russell him say “It is always better to be inside Parliment pissing out, than outside Parliment trying to piss in”

    3. He’s one of the few people in the world who could oversee the invasion of the 3rd richest oil fields in the world to get at the oil and not get any bloody oil. He was PM during a housing boom and still managed to end up building fewer houses than in the 1950’s etc etc etc. So the chances of him leading some kind of revivalist crusade in the UK are laughable at best.

    On a slightly related issue, the Labour party has always been the party of the Methodists (too much Charles Wesley and not enough Charles Marx has been there problem since the outset) with only a small number of Catholics (only 3 in the cabinet) or Anglicans (who have been more at home with the Tories) which marks Blair out as unusual and further reduces his influence.

  12. ^^ Can you pretend the Bush era didn’t happen, too? I’d say that’s even, but I think it’s asking a lot more of you…

  13. does anyone else think T.B. looks like Michael McKean (of spinal tap fame)?

    Haha – usually reminders of David St. Hubbins makes me forgive an awful lot, but not in this case.

    I don’t know if I’m comforted or horrified to find these type of things aren’t just happening in the US … nope, it’s definitely horror.

  14. “Religious faith will be of the same significance to the 21st Century as political ideology was to the 20th Century.”

    He says that like it is a good thing. What did political ideology bring us in the 20th Century?

    Lets see, the Armenian genocide fought over political ideology. WWI fought over political ideology, the Bolshevik Revolution fought over political ideology, the Treaty of Versailles created with political ideology. Stalin’s purges done over political ideology. WWII fought over political ideology. The Chinese Revolution fought over political ideology, the partition of India and Pakistan fought over political ideology, the Korean war fought over political ideology, the Cold War fought over political ideology, the Arms Race fought over political ideology, the Cuban revolution fought over political ideology, the Vietnam War fought over political ideology. The Cambodian genocide fought over political ideology. The Rwandan genocide fought over political ideology, the Kosovo genocide fought over political ideology.

    Have I missed a few? No doubt.

    Replacing political ideology with Religious Faith is supposed to make the 21st century better? Not a surprise that people think Blair is nutter. He is.

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