15 December 2008

Blair explains conversion delay

Tony Blair has explained why he decided to defer his conversion to Catholicism until he left office. In his view, discussing religion while he was prime minister would have entailed the danger of people calling him a "nutter". He added, "Maybe I was too sensitive... but I just came to the conclusion that if I started talking about God it was going to be difficult."

Before becoming a Catholic in 2007, Blair had attended Catholic services for 25 years. Moreover, he had brought his children up as Catholics (BBC).

There's not much about Blair's words that is surprising. Certainly, there is a great deal of intolerance in Britain to public discussion of religious beliefs. However, why would Blair necessarily have had to talk about his conversion publicly? People already knew very well where his sympathies lay. I think that, beyond religion being a difficult issue to address in British politics, it's a question of the country not being ready for a Catholic prime minister. I think that one day the UK will travel the road the US did decades ago with John F. Kennedy, but the time, I suppose, is not ripe yet.

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