Tony Blair ‘does God’ for his Faith Foundation
He is promoting the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, though he is not taking a penny for doing so (yet there is no denying that his lucrative tours of speeches and lectures will become even more lucrative as a result of his name being attached to something as prestigious and eminent as a ‘foundation’).
His essential message is that people of faith should reach out to one another. Very nice, that. Good and neighbourly stuff. And he wants to foster a better understanding of the different faiths which is deemed timely due to the ‘increasing fear and misunderstanding of religions around the world, particularly of Islam’.
For Mr Blair, faith can be a ‘progressive force’, helping to advance humanity and end global poverty. One of the key goals of the Foundation will be to bring people of faith together to deliver the UN’s Millennium Development Goals - to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, in his bid to be President of Europe, he derides the concept of statehood, noting that the boundaries of culture, identity and nationhood are falling. He preaches a gospel of interdependence, inter-faith action, peaceful co-existence, respect and tolerance.
One wonders why he is not delivering the speech to those groups and nations who need to hear it.
He concedes that faith ‘has to be rescued on the one hand from the extremist and exclusionary tendency within religion today; and on the other from the danger that religious faith is seen as an interesting part of history and tradition but with nothing to say about the contemporary human condition’.
But these are statements of the blindingly obvious, but no strategy for an outcome.
And he paid tribute to the fact that ‘we owe an incalculable debt to the Judaeo-Christian tradition in terms of our concepts of human worth and dignity, law and democracy’.
Ah, yes - that Judaeo-Christian tradition which he has done so much to defend. When Mr Blair speaks of respect for religious belief, his words ring hollow hollow for Christians and pro-life advocates who spent the decade of his premiership fighting the insidious stream of intensely anti-life and anti-Christian policies from his government.
This was not a political speech, but a religious sermon, replete with impressive moments of spiritual rhetoric and prophetic exhortations from the Almighty for those who live in darkness to walk in the light. But it is simplistic and superficial, lacking any real theology or understanding of doctrine, and completely devoid of praxis. He talks about truth, and quotes the qur’anic injunction to acquire knowledge, asserting that this was ‘something which for centuries put Islamic countries not Christian ones at the forefront of scientific advance’.
Knowledge is a wonderful thing, for, as we know, there are known knowns, unknowns knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. And Mr Blair prefers the nebulous regions of the unknown and unknowable unknowns, for that constitutes the realm of fantasy and conjecture where no-one may challenge him.
Revealingly, Mr Blair admits: ‘Since leaving office, I have understood better a phenomenon I understood only partially as Prime Minister.’
Quite so, through a glass darkly, but doubtless there will be no apology.
And finally, there is the injunction to engage with the ‘spiritual dimension’, to find ‘humility before God’ as ‘the Source and Goal of everything’ because he ‘believes profoundly’ that this one-world religion has ‘common values’ and ‘much common purpose’.
It is only a great pity that this is undermined by his ‘profound belief’ in the existence of Iraq’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’. Is it possible to believe that this man has a 'profound belief' in the Christian faith when he has voted for every anti-life and anti-family measure put before Parliament, closed down Roman Catholic adoption agencies, persecuted Catholic schools, and removed charitable status from large numbers of Christian charities? Mr Blair’s sincerity is false, his profundity is shallow, and his belief is a delusion.
He says: ‘I am not a religious leader’. And adds that neither now is he a political leader. But he ‘is passionate about the importance of faith to our modern world and about the need for people of faith to reach out to one another’. His Foundation will facilitate this by producing ‘high quality material – books, websites, every means of communication – to educate people better about the different faiths, what they truly believe not what we often mistakenly think they believe’. He will concentrate on the six main faiths: ‘the Abrahamic three and Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism’.
Cranmer can hardly wait, for this will not be concerned with religious orthodoxy or a doctrine of God, or even with understanding notions of 'truth', but will have a multi-faith ecumenical agenda that must be inoffensive pap for all – ‘promoting the idea of faith itself as something dynamic, modern and full of present relevance’.
Richard Dawkins must laughing his socks off.
But this One World Religion will be as nebulous and meaningless as his ‘Third Way’, and as damaging to tradition, culture and identity as his entire political agenda has been. And Cranmer prophesies that it will fail for a number of reasons: firstly, the whole agenda rests solely upon his charisma and personality; secondly, Mr Blair is no messiah, however much he may be persuaded of his salvific egocentricity; and thirdly, the only one who could succeed in this endeavour – the Prince of Peace - was not mentioned once in the entire speech.