I would never class myself as a religious person.

Although I studied the world’s religions at university, I did so more to try and understand those who do believe than an attempt to choose a faith for myself. Indeed, my studies confirmed my decision to avoid organised religion.

Still, I like to think that I’m never uneasy about religion or indeed religious people. Yet, equally, I expect them to respect my ambivalence as much as I respect their own faith.

I try hard not to judge people by their religion, although sometimes this is not always easy as some faiths have their extremes just as everything else in life does.

Live and let live is my fairly glib attitude to it all.

That is why I can’t help but feel sympathy for Tony Blair, who has revealed he worked hard to play down his own deeply held religious beliefs for fear of being labelled a “nutter”. Despite admitting that his religious beliefs were central to his decision-making whilst Prime Minister, Mr Blair felt the need to generally keep quiet about such issues.

Indeed, his trusted former aide Alastair Campbell goes further and explains his infamous “We don’t do God” response to a question about his former boss’s religious beliefs when in office by proclaiming “…you always get into trouble talking about it (religion)”.

The general conclusion appears to be that Mr Blair would not have got as far as he did with his political career if he’d been more open about his faith.

Mr Blair still needs to be held to account on so many of his decisions as Prime Minister. But I can’t help but sympathise with him on this particular issue.

It says much for our society, none of it favourable, that we are apparently unable or unwilling to accept someone might have a different set of beliefs and standards than ourselves.

A tolerant, open and truly multi-cultural society prepared to embrace and understand others would not be so quick to judge. Would it?


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