Happening to

Tony Blair seems very confused.

In an interview published in the Church of England Newspaper , Mr Blair said: “Sometimes I think we as Christians are more sensitive than we should be although I say that as someone who when I was in office, although I was perfectly open about my Christianity, nonetheless kept it within certain boundaries that were restricted in terms of what I said publicly. The position of prime minister puts you in a unique category. But in general terms in British society there is a risk that people see faith as a personal eccentricity.”

But if faith is not in some sense ‘a personal eccentricity’ then why did Blair keep his Christianity ‘within certain boundaries’? If Christianity is a perfectly ordinary set of beliefs, with no hint of the irrational or the illusory or the wishful about them, then why is there any need for boundaries that are restricted in terms of what a PM says publicly? In other words, is not the perceived need for boundaries there because ‘faith’ is what it is – is belief in the absence of or in defiance of evidence? Yet Blair dances around that rather obvious fact.

“I hope and believe that stories of people not being allowed to express their Christianity are exceptional or the result of individual ludicrous decisions. My view is that people should be proud of their Christianity and able to express it as they wish.” He admitted that conflict is “inevitable” between traditional religions and the new liberal doctrine of human rights. But he went on: “The real test of a religion is whether in an age of aggressive secularism it has the confidence to go out and make its case by persuasion.” Mr Blair disclosed, however, that while prime minister he believed equality and diversity were more important than religion in the case of the Catholic adoption agencies, who failed in their bid to be exempted from laws requiring them to consider homosexual couples as potential parents. “I happen to take the gay rights position,” he said.

Does he really mean he simply ‘happens’ to take the gay rights position? Is he saying he doesn’t take it for reasons? Is he saying it’s not a principled view but just a quirk or a matter of taste, as if gay rights were butterscotch or plaid or Mozart? He is saying that, whether he would stand by it or not – that is, he put it that way in order to skirt the obvious problem that his position is the opposite of the Catholic church’s position and yet he is now a Catholic. He attempted to duck the issue by using a weasel word. He did that presumably because he doesn’t want to address the fact that the Church he just joined has bad nasty retrograde views on various human rights. This is not impressive. It’s also decidedly distasteful in the context of a snide remark about ‘aggressive secularism.’ If it weren’t for ‘aggressive secularism’ we wouldn’t have gay rights, and if it weren’t for aggressive theocracy we wouldn’t keep having to fight rearguard actions against the enemies of gay rights and women’s rights and rights to free thought and speech. It is unbecoming for a Labour recently-ex Prime Minister to blow that off with a ‘happen to.’

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