His press secretary Alastair Campbell said he didn’t do it. His successor Gordon Brown still won’t do it, at least allow people “to ask him about his own faith, … what he prays about or if he prays before making policy decisions”. But former Prime Minister Tony Blair has now at last broken his silence and “done God”. Recently, for the first time in the UK, he spoke out openly about his faith to a meeting at Holy Trinity, Brompton in London, as reported on a blog at The Guardian and linked to by the Church Times blog.
Indeed this is what I wrote over a year ago, quoting Ruth Gledhill:
he’s not afraid to ‘do God’ now.
But up to this point Blair seems to have “done God” in his works, through his Faith Foundation, but not in his words at least here in the UK.
In his talk at HTB Tony Blair defended his policy of not “doing God” while in office:
If people do not understand how your faith works in your life, they think you go off in a corner and pray and get a divine inspiration as to what the minimum wage should be. People start thinking ‘we have got someone crazy running the country’.
But he clearly doesn’t take the position that faith should in general be an unimportant private matter:
The oddest question I have ever got asked is ‘Is your faith important in your life?’ If you have religious faith, in the end, it is the most important thing in your life; it is not an adjunct, it is the core. …
If I was to say what my Christianity has meant to my life, it would be, that it has given my life more purpose. The saddest thing in any person’s life is to wake up without purpose, and the most joyful thing is to wake up with purpose.
Indeed. He also praised evangelical churches which are
energetic and charismatic, where people are going out and telling people what it is about, you can be better people, create a better world, and go out and do God’s work.
In the light of sentiments like these it is not surprising that the evangelical charismatic audience at HTB accepted him very warmly. Certainly they are not among those religious nutcases who consider Blair the Antichrist or the false prophet of Revelation. And in view of the limited amount of real change in government policies since Gordon Brown took over I was perhaps too quick to blame Blair personally for his government’s failings. But I do find it hard to forgive him for leading us into the Iraq war. Nevertheless I too am beginning to warm to him.