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Europe’s bullying atheism is a threat to public debate

30 December 2008

12:52 PM

30 December 2008

12:52 PM

Reading New York Magazine’s profile of Tony Blair, I was struck by this quote from Blair:

“Actually,” he says, “what’s interesting is I’ve spoken to several European leaders—I won’t name them—who I didn’t really think were religious at all, and was rather surprised. They know I’ve started this foundation. And they’ll say, ‘That’s really interesting, because you know,’”—and here he lowers his voice a bit—“‘I am actually a practicing Christian.’” Turner adds that prominent business executives have told him the same thing.

It does strike me as rather worrying that European culture is becoming so aggressively atheist that politicians feel obliged to hide their faith. As an agnostic, I’ve no desire for any kind of religious test for office or for politicians to bang on about how God told them to do this or that. But surely politicians should be able to talk, if they want to, about the role faith plays in their life?

This aggressive atheism, and you don’t need to be a psychiatrist to work out why it is so aggressive, is just as unattractive and harmful to public debate as attempts to impose religious conformity on everyone.

PS This quote from Phillipe Sands says a lot more about him than it does Blair.

“When there was some talk that there was going to be some sort of Tony Blair Institute for International Relations at the London School of Economics, people just killed it, because it was such a joke—as someone said to me, it would have been like the Saddam Hussein Institute for Human Rights.”

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