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An Overdose of Faith

“It’s difficult if you talk about religious faith in our political system” complained Tony Blair comparing Britain with America. “You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you’re a nutter” (Daily Telegraph 23 May 2009). Blair hasn’t finished with us yet though. His attempts to prove whether or not he is a nutter are still to be completed.

Although the man who wanted to finish a speech while he was Prime Minister with “God bless Britain” was unable to bomb his way to world peace - he sent troops into battle in Iraq in 1998 and again in 2003, Kosovo in 1999, Sierra Leone in 2000, and Afghanistan in 2001 - he now hopes to solve our problems with ‘The Tony Blair Faith Foundation’. The purpose of this, apparently, is to promote “respect and understanding about the world’s religions through education and multi-faith action” and to “show how faith can be a powerful force for good in the modern world”.

Although having a religious ‘faith’ means, surely, believing that yours is right, and the others are therefore wrong, Blair is under the impression that “a world without faith would be one on a path to tragedy and disaster”. Unfortunately ‘tragedy and disaster’ are pretty much what we have in this world, but he seems not to have noticed that.

Numerous Christians were slaughtered by religious terrorists in Nigeria during July and August and an attack on the Central Mosque at Okene left more people dead there. “The country is drifting fast into anarchy,” said Archbishop Nicholas Okoh. “All Christians need to turn to Islam”, said a Boko Haram spokesman, or “they would never know peace again”. (Christian Post, 16 July and 10 August). So much for inter-faith ‘respect and understanding there.

And ‘Education and multi-faith action’ doesn’t seem to be on the agenda for girls in Deh’Subz, Afghanistan, according to a CNN.com report on 2 August. A girl’s school there run by Razia Jan, an American citizen born in Afghanistan, faces the daily threat of hand-grenade, acid and poison attacks by the local opposition.

“They are scared that when these girls get an education, they will become aware of their rights as women and as a human being” said Razia Jan. It seems that some of the local men urgently need to be educated too.

So can we suggest anything that might help Tony in his spiritual quest? A quick search on Google came up with the website of the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. This looked promising.

“We are a multi-faith group. As of mid-2011, we consist of one Atheist, Agnostic, Christian, Wiccan and Zen Buddhist. Thus, the OCRT staff lack agreement on almost all theological matters, such as belief in a supreme being, the nature of God, interpretation of the Bible and other holy texts, whether life after death exists, what form the afterlife may take, etc”.

OK, they may sound like a bunch of 60s hippies who sit around contemplating their navels and playing bongos all day, but at least they’re not killing each other. Maybe Tony and his Priests and Ayatollahs should join this group.

No, it wouldn’t work, would it? Oh well, back to the drawing board.