Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tony Blair's faith

From the Boston Globe’s and JWR’s Jeff Jacoby on Tony Blair’s mixing of British politics and his Christianity:

It was on Sunday that the Romney campaign announced the forthcoming speech, saying the candidate would discuss how his "own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected." On the same day in Britain, as it happened, the BBC broadcast an interview with former prime minister Tony Blair, who said that his Christian faith had been "hugely important" to him during his 10 years in power — but that he had felt constrained to keep it a secret for fear of being thought a crackpot.

"It's difficult to talk about religious faith in our political system," Blair said. "If you are in the American political system . . . you can talk about religious faith and people say, 'Yes, that's fair enough,' and it is something they respond to quite naturally. You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you're a nutter."

Apparently that was more than Blair was willing to risk. The fear of being thought ridiculous was why his press secretary had snapped, "We don't do G-d," when an American reporter asked the prime minister about his religious views in 2003. It was why Blair's advisers vehemently protested when he wanted to end a televised speech on the eve of the Iraq war with the words "G-d bless you." American presidents routinely invoke G-d's blessing on the nation, but Blair's spinmasters warned him against offending "people who don't want chaplains pushing stuff down their throats." (Blair told his flacks they were "the most unG-dly lot," but bowed to their demand and ended the speech with a limp "thank you.")

I have vague memories of Blair's having a spiritual side but never would have thought he considered it "hugely important."

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