Friday, September 26, 2008

Tony Blair: Studying other religions strengthened Catholic faith

This is the interesting assertion, and not the most auspicious statement to emanate from the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

The whole Telegraph article is worth reading, but the clearest inference of this statement is that in his efforts to study and understand other religions, he was persuaded of the rightness of the Christian worldview, and reinforced in his understanding of catholicity. By overcoming his ignorance of other faiths, he has rationally arrived at the view that they are all wrong, and that the Roman Catholic Church is right.

It is not the most diplomatic way of anointing 100 ‘mostly young people’ of varying faiths as ‘inter-religious ambassadors’. It is, however, the plainest acknowledgement made by him that in issues of religion, discrimination is a necessity and assertions of equality are nonsensical. If one is to be free to choose one’s faith, one has to be free to discriminate. It then becomes no business of the State to legislate against those issues of conscience which are intrinsic to one’s belief.

What a pity he was never so enlightened when he was prime minister.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So he examined the worlds idiot beliefs to justify his own idiot beliefs.

If all watches are 10 minutes slow, judging your own watch by others does not lead to knowing the correct time.

26 September 2008 at 10:27  
Blogger Holy Smoke said...

Hamza Yusuf is from the Zaytuna Institute. The institutes website states "Our mission is to provide the highest quality educational programs, materials, and training in the traditional sciences of Islam in the most beautiful way using the most effective tools of our time as a means of serving our Lord and honoring our Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam... " doesn't sound to interfaith to me. There are plenty of Christian missionary organizations that need help and are being persecuted in Africa. I think Mr. Blair needs to consult some Christian theologians on what it means to be a Christian rather than the "Idiots Guide to Religion" I Think he missed a couple of chapters.

26 September 2008 at 11:17  
Anonymous the recusant said...

If Mr Blair has found anything out during his frequent pilgrimages to the US, I hope it is that healthy and intelligent debate on matters of faith and religion are encouraged and promoted in America, which is in stark contrast to the prevailing condition in the UK after a 10 year legacy of his premiership.

Can you imagine the MSM outcry if Mr Brown were to speak before a UK young multi-faith crowd overtly promoting a Christian agenda in company with the UK equivalent of Hamza Yusuf and Abdul-Ghafur Saleemah, Islamic scholar and Muslim activist respectively. Perhaps he would send his wife out first as a warm up act, he couldn’t do worse than Tony’s statement “Religious faith could either be a force that pulls people apart or one that helps bring people together", what insight, what depth of vision, what banality.

Your Grace will have surely seen reports that Gordon Brown is preparing legislation to repeal the Act of Settlement during the fourth term of a Labour government. I know he is not a great admirer of yours but I could not put it better than Damian Thompson:

Now there's a coincidence. Catholics in Scotland and the Catholic English heartland are abandoning Labour in droves, and all of a sudden - hey! We can have a Catholic King and Queen if we vote for Gordon Brown at the next election.


And so now, out of the blue, comes this promise regarding the Act of Settlement – and this time Gordon really means it, we're assured. It won't make any difference, however. Because, given the choice between the possibility of a Catholic monarch and the prospect of an utterly humiliated Gordon Brown, I know which option most Catholics would vote for.

And How!

26 September 2008 at 11:52  
Blogger Dave said...

Your Grace,
You wrote "It is, however, the plainest acknowledgement made by him that in issues of religion, discrimination is a necessity and assertions of equality are nonsensical."

I agree but realise that this viewpoint makes interfaith dialogue impossible, as each of us will approach the table with the "I am right and you are wrong" attitude.
Coming from an evangelical Christian background, I've been welcomed as a member of a different faith when I've visited Catholic churches. Having seen what they believe in, I'm also inclined to agree!

I think it's vital that people of faith learn to be gracious when dealing with people from other faiths, but to be aware that these people do not and never can share your worldview. One of the saddest spectacles in recent years was the sight of Tony Blair attending a post 9/11 remembrance service armed only with a copy of the Qu'ran.
I hope he's realised the error of his ways. Political posturing and banner waving only alienates your supporters and cuts no ice with other faiths. Isn't it better to let people know where you stand?
Oops sorry, I forgot that it's Tony Blair we're talking about.

26 September 2008 at 13:31  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Your Grace

So, having studied the small print, Blair has decided that to avoid eternal fires his best bet is to go with Rome.

Ever the lawyer.

26 September 2008 at 15:52  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Does anybody believe anything at all that Tony Blair says? I cannot imagine why they would. Two faced seems entirely inadequate to describe the man.

26 September 2008 at 17:30  
Blogger The Gentleman Loser said...

Actually, that's not the clearest inference, Your Grace. One is that in studying other faiths, whatever your own particular faith, you come to a more profound understanding of your own faith and aspects of it that you had never really considered - something that happened to me twenty years ago on a dreary autumn night in the Leeds Road Hindu Temple in Bradford as an elderly worshipper invited me to ring some bells during a hymn. The bells he handed me were identical to those I had rung during the gloria during Easter Vigil as an altar server and then it dawned on me - the incense, the statues, the food, the song, the bells - these traditions had apparently grown thousands of miles apart over different epochs and yet expressed their religiosity in ways that were so uncannily similar. If I had left that temple with the conclusion that ergo my religion is better than yours mine is right and you are in error, it would have been an opportunity sadly lost.

@the recusant
As one papist to another perhaps you should just ask yourself if the piece of legislation is right or wrong,whether it deserves your support or not. After all, one of the most rabidly anti-Catholic papers in this country, The Guardian can bring itself to support this legislation.

26 September 2008 at 18:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"By overcoming his ignorance of other faiths, he has rationally arrived at the view that they are all wrong, and that the Roman Catholic Church is right."

Nothing in the report says that at all. A man who so recently promoted abortion and homosexuality, to the point of forcing the closure of Catholic adoption agencies, can hardly be said to have understood Catholicism. That he should set up a 'foundation' on religion - named after himself! - is a sign of his hubris and self-importance. Of course he still hopes to end up as President of Europe, so carrying a Catholic card would help here.

26 September 2008 at 19:12  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Mr Gentleman Loser ,

A good point well made sir. The choices present a poser! Should I do bad so that good may come of it, this encroaches into the realm of the theological principle of double effect which, under certain conditions, permits us to perform an act that has both a good and an evil effect. So the options are:

a. Maintain Mr Brown’s government (an intrinsically evil act) in order to remove the bad effect of the Act of Settlement

b. Remove Mr Brown’s government (an intrinsically good act) and suffer the continuation of the Act of Settlement.

Mmmm, On balance I rather like being a persecuted minority, after all we are not slung in prison and tortured any more and we are bound to consider that there is no allowance whatsoever in the Catholic system for directly choosing an evil.

Sorry Mr Brown it’s time to go.

26 September 2008 at 20:33  
Blogger The Gentleman Loser said...

Can you provide any evidence that supporting this reasonable proposal will lengthen this government's term by one day?
Even if you can it seems to me that this issue should transcend party politics.
btw given that a bad intention can vitiate the goodness of any act I am not sure about the existence of intrinsically good acts...

26 September 2008 at 22:11  
Anonymous Forever and Anon said...

Anonymous @ 10:27 - "If all watches are 10 minutes slow, judging your own watch by others does not lead to knowing the correct time."

What is "the correct time"? Who says so, and why?

26 September 2008 at 22:57  
Anonymous Brita said...

Gentleman Loser @22:11 "btw given that a bad intention can vitiate the goodness of any act I am not sure about the existence of intrinsically good acts..."

That's a good one!

Leads me to: ...and there's One True Judge of the Actor [though lesser beings may dislike, disapprove, and distrust, the performer's acts]...

26 September 2008 at 23:20  
Anonymous Brita said...

The Recusant et al: as a Protestant who will never bow to domination by Rome, I seem to be in the minority here! Surely, though, the Settlement gongs should come as no surprise to either RC or Protestant. The next step is obvious - the natural corollary for a deconstructed archipelago that is no longer free and no longer British.

As someone has suggested - perhaps we should choose our suppliers of incense more carefully. I think we should all say 'no' if it comes from the Unholy Roman Empire and its Islamic faction!

26 September 2008 at 23:56  
Anonymous papalist monarchist said...

As a Catholic, I'm happy to defer the repeal of the Act of Settlement to a better time, when Britain has at least a majority who have returned to the Faith. Once that has happened, repeal can go ahead. To encourage its passage now, by people acting in the name of "anti-discrimination" while nurturing hatred for the monarchy in their hearts, is dangerous and could lead to the destruction of the institution. Already we hear sounds about how the "hereditary principle" is "dodgy" (Lib Dem MP, supporting the proposed measures).

Fellow Catholics, just say no to this cheap pandering.

27 September 2008 at 03:20  
Blogger Jomo said...

What about a "Third Way" solution.

The Hanoverian's have run their course.Carlos the Third has even less sense than George the Third

The Jacobite's were even more confused about their religious religion than dear old Tony.

Time for a British Federal Republic before its too late to save the nation

27 September 2008 at 10:48  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Mr Gentleman Loser,

The evidence (if that is what it can be called) is that the offer to the repeal in contingent on a Labour victory in 2010 for a fourth term, but not in this parliament. The implicit suggestion being, vote for me and we’ll get rid of the Act of Settlement (A0S), some time between 2010 and 2015 [about the same time we have that previously promised vote on the EU constitution].

I was not making the case that any action now could extend the life of this Parliament, but that in light of this ‘enticement’ for Catholics to vote for a future Labour government which would perhaps return it to power.

I beg to differ with you on your point, that it should transcend party politics, the essence of the AoS is political, its genesis was wrought out of the political will to settle the succession to the throne and prevent any future monarch being Catholic and thereby prevent them giving allegiance to ‘a Foreign Prince’ i.e. the Pope. It could legitimately argue that it is a little out of date as we already seem to have sold our sovereignty to Brussels. I therefore think the issue is firmly in the political arena as well as being a red herring.

Papalist monarchist makes a really good point which I believe can be summarised as Catholics don’t be tempted by quick-fix bribes of limited worth. After all with the economy collapsing around us, homes and jobs are being lost and businesses failing at record levels, what difference would it make today if the AoS was repealed? Its one of those cheap political baubles that politicians bring out every now and then when things get a bit hot to divert attention from the real issues.

For my part (martyr complex coming up) I am prepared to suffer the awful indignity of being a persecuted minority for a few more years for the greater benefit of the country in order that we do not return this appalling government (cue heroic applause, wipe tear from eye, give that man a medal)

Can we have intrinsically good acts, perhaps His Grace would like to comment?

27 September 2008 at 12:02  
Blogger The Gentleman Loser said...

@the recusant
Before getting a definitive statement from His Grace, the Catechism says this.

Given that there's no chance of this happening I think this is even less likely to be a grubby attempt to secure the Catholic vote. The only thing that might tempt Catholics back to vote Labour would be to toughen up the abortion laws (it's not going to happen, obviously) How about a 'thought experiment'? If Labour made a firm manifesto commitment to copy the Irish/Maltese abortion laws would you vote Labour? For what it's worth I (a life long Labour voter would) vote Tory if they(i.e. the Tories) made such a promise.

27 September 2008 at 12:54  
Anonymous The recusant said...

Mr Gentleman Loser,

Indeed if such proposition were adopted I would even vote Lib/Dem if necessary for such an outcome (and believe me that’s root canal work without anaesthetic for me). On this I don’t suppose there is room for a cigarette paper between us. What does give me a great deal of concern is that I cannot in good conscience vote for any of the parties as they all support abortion, what is a Catholic to do ?

27 September 2008 at 14:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Mr Blair imagine it is of the slightest interest to God what religion he chooses?,. Catholic, protestant,methodist?.
The bottom line is what relationship has he formed with His Son , Jesus Christ?.

27 September 2008 at 16:05  

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