Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair unveiled last Saturday that uniting the world’s three largest religions will be his lifetime goal. Blair, who once said that God would be his judge on Iraq, launched a foundation that will work towards the peaceful coexistence of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Although while premier Tony Blair urged British politicians not to perform American-style “chest beating,” now he wants religion to play a leading role in the 21st century. At the opening conference of his new foundation, Blair admitted that “Religious faith will be of the same significance to the 21st Century as political ideology was to the 20th Century.”
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation was launched on May 30, 2008, in New York City. The invited guests, among who was Former US President Bill Clinton, heard Blair saying that “the world [was] going tumultuous change” and, to address new issues, world leaders would have to discover a set of rules which could guide them in their efforts. According to the former British prime minister, religion is the answer.
Goals that Blair set up for his foundation may, in his own words, “sound impossibly idealistic,” but after greater scrutiny are achievable. The foundation’s website lists the three most important points: to promote respect and understanding between the major religions; to make the case for faith as a force for good; and to encourage inter-faith initiatives to tackle global poverty and conflict.
Faith is so important, says Blair, because the contemporary world brings distant communities closer than in the previous centuries. “Here is the crucial point. Globalization is pushing people together. Interdependence is reality. Peaceful co-existence is essential. If faith becomes a countervailing force, pulling people apart, it becomes destructive and dangerous,” said the former British prime minister.
According to the data provided by Blair, Christians and Muslims know very little about each other. “Most Christians want better relations between Christianity and Islam but believe most Muslims don’t,” said Blair. The British leader underlined that in a recent survey; only 40 percent of Europeans said that religion was an important part of their lives. In the US, this number rose to 70 percent whereas in Muslim countries it exceeded 80 percent.
Tony Blair feels that due to his wide connections and personal experience, he could succeed in promoting peaceful coexistence among the world largest religions. Surprisingly for a prime minister of the socialist Labor Party, faith had always been a vital point in his political career. Shortly after stepping down as the head of the government, Blair announced that he had left the Anglican Church and joined the Roman Catholic faith of his wife and children.
Blair hopes that his foundation will show how faith can help solve materialistic problems that plague the contemporary world. Religion, says the British statesman, can join people of different denominations in one common effort towards the better future.
In his interview for Time magazine, Blair said: “If you got churches and mosques and those of the Jewish faith working together to provide the bed nets that are necessary to eliminate malaria, what a fantastic thing that would be.”