The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

Is Tony Blair a Religious Nutter?

Posted by rantingkraut on November 30, 2007

As reported by the BBC, Tony Blair kept quiet about his religious beliefs while in power since doing otherwise would have led people to write him off as a nutter. Of course, religious beliefs can translate into all kinds of behaviour in politics –even within the same belief system: Camillo Torres and George Bush were both inspired by Christianity after all.

If there is one trait that religious fanaticism is most commonly associated with, this would be the true believer’s readiness to face martyrdom. That is how Islamist cranks think of themselves when they turn themselves into human bombs. It is also how Christians were perceived when they died for their faith. In both cases, the martyr expects to be rewarded in the afterlife, although only Muslims are given a concrete promise of 72 virgins. (Virgins, who would presumably come with 72 mothers in law, though less publicity is given to that.)

It is curious then that religion seemed to have the opposite effect on Tony Blair. The telegraph quotes Blair as saying that:

“To do the prime minister’s job properly you need to be able to separate yourself from the magnitude of the consequences of the decisions you are taking the whole time. Which doesn’t mean to say … that you’re insensitive to the magnitude of those consequences or that you don’t feel them deeply.

“If you don’t have that strength it’s difficult to do the job, which is why the job is as much about character and temperament as it is about anything else. But for me having faith was an important part of being able to do that… Ultimately I think you’ve got to do what you think is right.”” (source)

So, having faith was important for Blair’s ability to separate himself from the ‘magnitude of the consequences’ of his decisions. To put it more concisely: Blair needed religion to offload personal responsibility for his decisions as Prime Minister. If this interpretation is correct, then Blair has managed the unlikely feat of drawing inspiration for cowardice rather than martyrdom from religion.

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