When Tony Blair was British Prime Minister his press secretary stated 'We don't do God.' There was even the episode when Blair was asked if he had prayed with President Bush. Blair has now outed himself as religious and decided to start a foundation. Well, what else do former heads of government do?
“People will think this is a piece of spin, but,” he said, “I’ve always been as interested in religion as in politics.” Then, for good measure, he adds: “I see this over time as the rest of my life’s work.”
But while Blair now is officially religious, he at least remains respectfully so. That is, one can be religious but not take it too far:
Though he intends to engage others in questions of faith, he seems awkward about some aspects of his beliefs and wants to avoid an evangelical posture. For example, when asked whether he thought a person would be better off believing that Jesus was the Son of God, he said: “I believe in and I hold the doctrines of the Christian faith. But I think that when you start to engage in that type of thing — that actually you’d be better off if you converted to my faith — if you’re not incredibly careful about how you approach that conversation — that’s actually what leads to a lot of confrontation and difficulty.”
This answer tells you something important about his Faith Foundation. While Mr Blair may have changed the subject to talk about religion, he remains to his fingertips a politician. He knows that, while the fact of his religious faith is essential to making his initiative work, the content of it might get in the way.
Yes, for that content--the crucified and risen Son of God--has gotten in the way for centuries. But the Times more than hints--well, Blair more than hints--it all might simply be positioning:
Then comes more of that Blair instinct for a political position to occupy. Al Gore has global warming sewn up. Bill Gates is sorting out a cure for malaria. Resolving interfaith conflict is crying out for a standard-bearer and he realises the position is vacant.
“I think that the areas to do with climate change, and Make Poverty History, where there’s a well-trodden piece of ground there, and actually I have interest in both of those things. But in respect of faith, there is a burgeoning interest in it now.”
Ah, well, I suppose religion has been needing a saviour.