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We Don’t Do God

Tony Blair’s spin chief Alastair Campbell famously declared “we don’t do God”. And the prime minister got very cross with Jeremy Paxman when he asked if he prayed with George Bush.

Meanwhile the US President attracted serious criticism when he suggested God told him to “end the tyranny” in Iraq.

So it must come as no surprise to Tony Blair that his remarks – made on ITV1’s Parkinson programme – about being judged by God for his actions in Iraq have sparked a storm of protest.

It raises the prospect of inflaming Arab opinion which often links Christian western leaders with suggestions of a “crusade” – a charge already levelled at President Bush. Others have asked how a Christian can defend war and sending soldiers and civilians to their death.

And it has raised a very old and very thorny question over the role of religion in politics.
Supporters, such as MP Steven Pound, have pointed out the prime minister is no longer facing election and was simply telling the truth about his personal beliefs.

The other side of that coin is the suggestion from others that the prime minister did not “do God” previously because he feared it might damage him in the polls…

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  1. I feel that the reason why Bush has gotten away with promotion of his faith is because his advisors tell him to do so. Now this is no longer the case, but by showing his Catholic beliefs it strengthened his voter turn out in the states that he won during election. At this point, just like Mr. Blair, since he’s not running for re-election he has nothing to lose by saying those things.

  2. Anybody else think Tony might be moving to America and this is him just laying the foundation for a successful career in the Bible Belt? One of his prayer buddies runs the country, so I’m sure they’ll be able to sort him out some kind of job over there.

    We can but hope that soon Tony Blair will be acting as crazy as Tom Cruise without his PR people controlling him.

  3. Chris D Chris D

    It’s interesting to see the BBC article talking about British citizens being cautious or downright suspicious of politicians who claim to be motivated by faith. In America popular political thought is so underdeveloped that saying you’re motivated by faith can be an unmitigated plus as long as you can distance yourself from abortion or intelligent design. It’s like our electorate has no idea what it sort of criteria to apply to those in-charge.

    Oh, and Bush isn’t Catholic by any means, he’s Methodist or something. As Governor of Texas Bush oversaw any number of executions that the Pope decried as a matter of principle when he was in the states. I’d like to think that even Bush would have had the decency and smarts to listen to his boss on that one if he had been Catholic.

  4. matt matt

    I remember seeing a photo series in the Sunday Times a while back of the flurry of activity inside Number 10 in the days leading up to the bombing of Baghdad. Blair, in a moment of exasperation, shouted at a group of his people that they were (paraphrasing) “the most ungodly lot” he’d ever seen. Which would lead me to believe that, unlike Bush’s entirely phony and pragmatic conversion, Blair’s faith is actually sincere.

    Which is a fucking terrifying thought. Politicians with a jones for money or power or fucking little boys I can understand, but a person with his amount of power who actually believes there’s a spooky invisible superhero who listens to his private thoughts scares the shit out of me. I’m glad its provoked a bit of controversy here, one of the UK’s saving graces is its almost total irreligiosity.

  5. Mark W Mark W

    Actually I think Bush’s belief is sincere, I can’t find the reference but apparently one of the few things that stops alcholics falling off the wagon is conversion to religion, replace one thing that fills ‘the hole’ with another.

    Pity they both pick and choose from the tenets of their faiths as to which ones to follow.

  6. The thing is God may judge them. Whatever, the thing is as far as democracy goes the important thing is how the People judge them. The People are the only source of vindication for a democratically elected leader. Neither the Uk nor US are supposed to be theocracies, God doesn’t enter the moral equation.

  7. Eric Eric

    Jeb Bush is catholic(I believe he converted when he married an hispanic woman), that’s probably where the confusion came in.

  8. Daniel Morgan Daniel Morgan

    The Prez’s beliefs, if he fully subscribes to his faith, are slightly fucking terrifying. Not neccesarily in themselves, but in that the leader of the most powerful military nation is being controlled by a guy who may think that the Dome of the Rock needs to be torn down and replaced with a Jewish temple. At which point a very small number of Christians will suddenly rise, naked, up to heaven and the earth will open up and everything that was ever in a Hieronymous Bosch painting will pour out and do terrible things to the unfaithful. That’s just the tip of the fucking iceberg.

  9. F_D F_D

    Why worry about being judged by God when you can be judged by History instead?

  10. Jakob Jakob

    The bit that gets me: “Supporters, such as MP Steven Pound, have pointed out the prime minister is no longer facing election and was simply telling the truth about his personal beliefs.”

    His *supporters* are the ones saying he was misleading us about his beliefs and motivations? How is that a good thing in a democracy? It’s a bad sign when we are supposed to simply assume and accept that politicians are deceiving us about their motivations in order to get elected. Obviously they are, but it’s not a good thing, and I would like to think that it’s worth condemning.

    Gah. How are we meant to choose a leader when it’s generally accepted that they’re lying to us to get the job?

  11. Kayline Kayline

    The thought that Tony Blair deliberately misled his country as to his religious motivations is upsetting, but somehow I can’t find this post disheartening. I mean, just imagine living in a country where you get IN TROUBLE for mixing God with politics. Given the choice between two Bible-brandishing bastards, I’ll take the one who’s NOT backed up by a nation of God Warriors. I’d sacrifice several small fuzzy animals to live in a country where politicians felt compelled to say that they “don’t do god”.

  12. Dario Dario

    Invoking the name of God in order to justify a devastating act of violence…

    Bin Laden would be proud.

  13. On the BBC’s coverage of this, they posted a comment someone had emailed in: “As an elected official, his responsibility to his constituents comes before his god.” Or something to that effect. Which to my mind is the underlying theme of a secular society.

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