Tony Blair blaming religious intolerance

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Discussion by: catphil

Tony Blair, writing in the Observer (26 Jan), said that religious extremism has become the biggest source of conflict around the world.

Referring to wars and violent confrontations in places  like Syria, Iraq,  Nigeria, Central African Republic and the Philippines, Blair argued that "there is one thing self-evidently in common: the acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion. It is a perversion of faith."

He says: "The battles of this century are less likely to be the product of extreme political ideology, like those of the 20th century – but they could easily be fought around the questions of cultural or religious difference."

The promotion of religious tolerance, both within and between countries, Blair stated, will be key to fostering peaceful outcomes around the world in the 21st century.

Although not a fan of Blair, I think he may have a  point this time. But would not the promotion of secularism (science and reason!) be even more effective? To the extent that the number and influence of “faith-believers” and of active promoters (pastors, imams, etc…) – each propagating  their own brand of competing faith – is reduced, there would  surely be less occasion for the alleged “perversion” or “abuse” of the various faiths concerned.

 

37 COMMENTS

  1. How can we ever convince Islamic terrorists that their belief in the reward of 72 virgins in paradise is completely mad, when Christians like Blair believe in the equally mad idea of eternal life in heaven with Jesus? Christianity offers no intellectual bulwalk against the mad beliefs of Islam.

  2. Referring to wars and violent confrontations in places like Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Central African Republic and the Philippines, Blair argued that “there is one thing self-evidently in common: the acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion. It is a perversion of faith.”

    Blair, having come out over his closet Catholicism, has his “faith-blinkers” and his disingenuous “propagandist hat” firmly in place.

    These wars were clearly brought about by the clandestine arming and funding, of political groups by foreign powers and organisations, to undermine and change existing regimes which were not to their liking.

    Regard for the populations living in the created war-zones is not rated as an important issue, in the minds of power and wealth grabbing, manipulative politicians, like Blair, Bush, Saudi princes etc. or the fanatics they arm with modern weapons.

  3. Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them (Koran 9:123). There are over 100 similar verses in the Koran. How is Blair going to convince all 1.5 billion Muslims that the Prophet got it wrong?

  4. For starters i think western countries should start promoting secularism over their own people if we want something remotely close to what Blair asks. Even though atheist, secular and humanist movements have been rising, religious fanatism is a growing at a faster pace. And it gets even worse in muslim countries where there is a strong anti-occidental mindset, which in turn is fueled by western interventions in arab and african countries. Religion is now targeting not the faithful, but all those millions that have been suffering by war and poverty, and their main weapon is targeting other religions, primarily those of the invaders. It is a crusade all over again but going from east to west.

    • In reply to #6 by GTRaptor:

      For starters i think western countries should start promoting secularism over their own people if we want something remotely close to what Blair asks.

      Most of the West is secular already: Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and so on. There are just vestigial pockets of religious privilege, but that’s it. Just because the US is a touch religious, doesn’t mean the “West” as a whole is, and even the US is doing relatively well compared with parts of North Africa and West Asia.

      Also, where d’you get the idea that fundamentalism is on the increase? If anything, I’d have said the opposite, given the increasing percentages of irreligious people throughout the West.

  5. The promotion of religious tolerance, both within and between countries, Blair stated, will be key to fostering peaceful outcomes around the world in the 21st century.

    Although not a fan of Blair, I think he may have a point this time….

    Religious tolerance? Hmm….

    I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

    Sorry, no can do!

    ps. Really sorry about that but, you know, it’s in the book.

    pps. I do hope you’ll understand our position, it’s our number one rule.

    ppps. Die infidel!

  6. The catch cry of the 21st century should be: “Religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private.”

    I concur with GTRaptor. We need to promote a secular world. Blair needs to look in the mirror first before point his finger to far horizons. Until religion in the UK has been relegated to the catch cry above, he has no right to “Preach, holier than thou.”

  7. “there is one thing self-evidently in common: the acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion. It is a perversion of faith.”

    if Faith is belief without evidence then how can anything be considered a perversion of it? If I have and unreasonable faith that marshmallows will turn into gold, will that be a perversion of faith? The common factor here is not faith but people who will believe literally anything and allow their actions and morality to be guided by it. As for an abuse of religion, read the damn books I’ve done the bible again recently and am now doing the Koran. The actions of the religious are perfectly aligned with much of the teachings and rantings in both books.

    • In reply to #10 by Reckless Monkey:

      “there is one thing self-evidently in common: the acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion. It is a perversion of faith.”
      …I’ve done the bible again recently and am now doing the Koran.

      Good luck reading the Koran. I suppose I’ve a weak stomach, but I gave it up – I found there is a limit to how many times I can read about how I’m going to die horribly and then be damned as a infidel (better not let on to Allah I’m gay!!!).

      Some years ago I gave up on a second reading of the Bible, when I was rather older than my first teenage reading. I stopped somewhere in Judges, for similar reasons to my abandoning the Koran. Just too much hate, too many atrocities.

      • In reply to #33 by steve_hopker:

        In reply to #10 by Reckless Monkey:

        …I’ve done the bible again recently and am now doing the Koran.

        As others say, a literal reading of either surely support all kinds of horrors in the name of God. I think the only way for moderates is to reject literalism, despite the obvious theological problems that follow (but then, literalism has vast theological problems due to scriptural contradictions). I don’t think Blair has a coherent position on this, yet, in practice, unless religious hatred can only be overcome with stronger counter-violence (drones etc), some kind of dialogue and compromise is needed.

        Maybe if enough religious leaders could accept and preach that religion can be tolerated providing it tolerates others…?? Trouble is, intolerance is written so deeply into so many creeds… Sikhism and Hinduism are supposedly inclusive, yet both have been and are motivators for extreme violence. And how on this Earth could you persuade fundamentalist Christians or Muslims to genuinely sit down with other faiths and stop damning them? Not a good prospect :((

  8. Hi catphil,

    Although not a fan of Blair …

    Join the club. Please don’t be offended if this makes you anonymous. It’s a very, very, big club.

    I think he may have a point this time.

    They say there’s a first time for everything.

    But would not the promotion of secularism (science and reason!) be even more effective?

    In what way?

    The evidence of creationism, among other indicators, strongly suggests that most religious leaders are unlikely – to put it mildly – to embrace different ways of thinking.

    In addition, in the majority of cases, it seems to me that the evidence points to the fact that religious leaders love conflict to the extent that they promote it. Where is their motivation to change?

    To the extent that the number and influence of “faith-believers” and of active promoters (pastors, imams, etc…) – each propagating their own brand of competing faith – is reduced …

    That sounds to me like wishful thinking. I appreciate that ambition is what drives us to do better, but, where is Blur’s explanation of what “religious extremism” is?

    … there would surely be less occasion for the alleged “perversion” or “abuse” of the various faiths concerned.

    What does a perversion of evangelical Christianity look like?

    How would you describe an abuse of Hinduism?

    It is noticeable that people who commit anti-human acts, and call themselves Muslim, are disavowed by other Muslims. Never mind extremist religion, what does benign religion look like?

    I am confused, clearly.

    Peace.

  9. Mr Insignificant Blah – (that’s the Scottish way to say it)….is so full of hypocritical mince – the self styled peace messiah said…
    “there is one thing self-evidently in common” …Oh…. where have I heard that prelude before ???
    Yip must be religious terrorism…..Gawwwwwwwwwwd !….the common factor amongst others things is the west’s involvement in creating instability and turning man against his brother – while the west profit from the natural resources of the country….
    Gotta love Noam Chomsky for enlightening me to the code-word…’Peace Process’

    • In reply to #12 by Light Wave:

      Mr Insignificant Blah – (that’s the Scottish way to say it)….is so full of hypocritical mince – the self styled peace messiah

      Gotta love Noam Chomsky for enlightening me to the code-word…’Peace Process’

      “Piss – process” – Would that be Scottish?

      Strange , how after a foreign sponsored and armed, coup, or corporate mercenaries, have hi-jacked a country’s resources, or a foreign army has seized it by force, they suddenly what “peace” and “freedom from terrorism”, when the natives start undercover attacks on the invaders and their collaborators!

      • In reply to #13 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #12 by Light Wave:

        Mr Insignificant Blah – (that’s the Scottish way to say it)….is so full of hypocritical mince – the self styled peace messiah

        Gotta love Noam Chomsky for enlightening me to the code-word…’Peace Process’

        “Piss – process” – Would that be Scottish?

        Strange , how…

        Very Well said Alan

  10. you know what is funny? (not in the hahahah way, but in the strange, quirky way?)

    The fool who just died who fronted to WBC for decades was actually adhering to what was written in the book he walked around with. He was an intolerant dickhead who hated everyone. BUT, that’s what it says to be in his book. All these other douches who half believe and half live and half preach earned his ire. And mine too.

    The worst possible person to deal with is the tough guy who gets in your face and then turns out to be a sniveling weakling. Think Frank Burns on MASH. Let’s get down to reality, here. Blair is a “pussy” (sorry for the poor choice of insults, I know I could do better). At least Fred Phelps went down swinging.

    Tony Blair is a poser. Claim your stance and defend it. I have. Fred Phelps did. What has Blair done??? I am not going to keep using the same euphemism, as it is offensive, however, he only stands up when there is no one to stand up to.

  11. “… the acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion. It is a perversion of faith.”

    That had me coughing. Mr Blair, they are not motivated by an abuse of religion; they are motivated by religion. Acts of terrorism are not a perversion of faith; they are some of the possible natural outcomes of faith. Faith, after all, is belief without benefit of reason or evidence.

    Catphil, religionists should, like everybody else, tolerate those of other persuasions simply for the public good as required by law. This is no more than good citizenship. Mr Blair’s point is vacuous; he is presupposing that there is a legitimate and inherently worthwhile form of superstition.

    Your final suggestion of promoting secularism, reason and science is the way for society to go. The less heed given by the state to religions, the better. The state has an obligation to ensure that children receive as their birthright a modern education in both the sciences and the humanities and are safeguarded from indoctrination and quackery.

  12. This is an exemplification of moderate religion protecting extreme religion. Of course promoting secularism would be better! Without more moderate theists, like Blair himself, promoting secularism would be much easier. Islamic jihadist would stand in stark contrast to a realistic and atheistic world, and society would not allow extreme religion to continue existing.

  13. Religion is perverse. It is perverse because it confuses the believer into taking certain actions. It fosters segregation and discrimination in the most perverse way.

    Religion and faith were created by perverse men. They are handbooks about how to hate and get rid of people different than you. For some perverse reason, these things are not mentioned as part of the fanaticism they so much abhor . As if their faith was any different.

    Tolerance towards religions that invoke hate and murder is absurd. And most do that. If what is written in those books makes no sense in this century, and xtians and muslims don’t go around killing each other because they don’t take the books literally , then discard the books as obsolete and perverse in that they are open to misuse of faith etc and start a new religion. Something more realistic and acceptable than the words of people who never existed. And things that never happened.

    Every one is appalled by the atrocities committed yet don’t seem to have the guts to blame it on religion only those who are considered fanatics. The problem is that anyone can become a fanatic when indoctrinated. The only way to put a stop to this is to pull the plug on religion and place it where it belongs. In the mental Institutions.

    If religious fanaticism would be considered a mental illness, this whole ugly business would be over. Because people will not let the mentally ill free to do harm simply because they are mentally ill.

    The reason why they do nothing is because of this respect entitlement that religion somehow hijacked. Their actions justified by the word of god or a holy war or fighting for what they believe. Simply remove god from the equation and you get thugs and murderers or crazy people instead of holy warriors.

  14. People like Blair are a major part of the problem. Being openly Christian gives support/credence to extremists and terrorists who are also just following a religion the same as Blair, except more literally? I assume Tony Blair does not literally believe the bible (although I could be wrong). Tony Abbot (aka The Mad Monk) is also not doing the world any good as the new Catholic Prime Minister of Australia.

  15. That’s the guise Tony….But You are the worst puppet of the USA for brokering peace…Are you actually kidding yourself….. you mean the kinda peace where you pay for, arm and send advanced militia or support dictators to destabilise opposing forces in these places of ‘common interest’ as your proxy distraction for the real agenda in those countries……

    ‘They Create a wilderness and call it peace’ – (anonymous quote)

    Syria – Oil & Natural Gas……
    Iraq – Petroleum & Natural Gas……
    Nigeria – Oil, Petroleum, Natural Gas & Host of Metal Ores…
    Central African Republic – Diamonds, Gold & Uranium…….
    Phillippines – Gold, Silver & Metal Ores… Iran (next on the list) – Oil & Gas……
    Afghanistan – Petroleum & Natural Gas….

    Religion ??? – Get real people…..See through the veil…..

  16. IMO religion was never the cause of any war or conflict. BUT it was / is certainly used as motivation for such. In much the same way as nationalism, language, demonisation of the bogey man, xenophobia, and many other such ideas. Let’s remember that wars are expensive, very expensive. War is used as the weapon of last resort when the insurance company won’t pay out any more. At that point the armed forces are brought into operation. Wars are fought for material reasons, not idealogical, nor religious ones. The Iraq war is a case in point. Had Iraq not had the promise of being the world’s largest oil exporter in 10 year’s time, the USA, UK and others would not have bothered to cause such decimation as they did in that part of the world.

    The dead feel nothing, but no doubt those soldiers of the west, (military), workers, who had their legs blown off or worse, during the conflict, can feel proud that they defended their masters’ interests in having a stake in owning Iraq’s oil. Naturally the John Kerrys, Tony Blairs and Colin (collateral damage) Powell, of this world are far too busy with higher things than getting their limbs blown off.

    Religion is a motivator, – not a cause.

  17. there is one thing self-evidently in common: the acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion.

    And acts of unwarranted wars by snake-oil, media-whoring politicians. Irony is a bitch.

  18. Why anyone would listen to this sick fuck who helped invade Iraq based on lies and deception is beyond me. It was his own perverted religious beliefs that aligned him with the mass murderer Bush, who later admitted that “god told me to do it” and hundreds of thousands of innocent people died as a result.

  19. Religious Tolerance?

    What exactly is that supposed to mean? Is there the remotest chance that any of the Gallimaufry of Abrahamic Nutters are ever going to just raise an eyebrow and walk away exercising their new found tolerance?

    They can agree on nothing. There is only one path to reason and it cannot be found in any book of bronze age rules that peddle short lists of acceptable reasons to kill other people. Blair is a great fool.

  20. Religious Tolerance = Hypocrisy

    Only those of the same religion tolerate each other and that is sometimes questionable. The rest of the time they spend hating each other.

    What about people who find religion intolerable !! Who looks out for them/us ?

    Recently I had some heated arguments with some people on Facebook about how xtians hate gay people. And of course some came out to say that they did not hate gay people, that they simply disagree with their lifestyle. WTF does that mean???

    I told them that being gay is not a lifestyle it is life. Born that way. I told them that saying that was the same as when someone says they are not racists they just dislike black people, or white people… They got very offended, claiming it was not the same.
    It is the same as in , you are asking someone to change the skin they were born in just because you dislike it. Or were mistakingly told it was wrong and that people choose to be gay.

    A lifestyle is being messy or clean. Having a nice car or house or box. Being gay is the same as being black, I said this because the xtians who were discussing were black. They both defaulted to the typical position. and even though both were from different xtian sects, they high-fived each other and said to each other jesus loves you bro…
    They kept threatening to leave the discussion but kept coming back, I guess they could not help themselves…
    Then of course they both had relatives who were gay and they said that they love them even though they disagree with their lifestyle.

    Basically proved that xtians are hypocrites and they don’t even realize it…

    • In reply to #25 by GFZ:

      Religious Tolerance = Hypocrisy

      Only those of the same religion tolerate each other and that is sometimes questionable. The rest of the time they spend hating each other.

      Is that meant to be hyperbole or do you actually believe that? Because if you are saying that all religious people in the history of the world are intolerant of anyone that doesn’t have the same religion that is obviously false. I know people who are Christians and Muslims who are very tolerant of other religions, and atheists since they are my friends and they know very well I’m an atheist.

      Or if you want some people from history who were religious and tolerant of others, just to name a few: Martin Luther King, Father Daniel Berrigan, Bishop Oscar Romero, Cesar Chavez. And there are many, many more. Anyone who has worked in the peace movement or civil rights movement can tell you that they are filled with people of all and no religions working together for the common good without a care about religious differences.

  21. I suppose you have a point, but maybe the word tolerance needs to be agreed upon it’s meaning.

    Does everyone agree on what that means? I think not. One thing is to need to tolerate living in a society with other people. And another is to accept their beliefs no matter how vile they may be.

    I know very few people who actually tolerate as in the latter part of my statement. I only speak from my own experience.
    it is not hard to conclude that because certain beliefs are very harmful, one can and should be completely intolerant of people who follow those views. Or can you be just a little intolerant or tolerant. Or pick what parts you tolerate. I tolerate the nice parts the ones about love thy brother etc. but not the one about rape or sin or murder.

    Forgive me but I can’t come up with another word other than hypocrisy . Should be something like Religious Indifference rather than Tolerance. Tolerance is acceptance.

    • In reply to #27 by GFZ:

      I suppose you have a point, but maybe the word tolerance needs to be agreed upon it’s meaning.

      Most peoples tolerance of mosquitoes ends where their access to effective insecticides begins; you only tolerate what you cannot change.

      • In reply to #31 by Alakan:

        you only tolerate what you cannot change.

        Yes, and Ideologies can be changed. Ways of thinking can be changed, Rules can be changed, Beliefs can be changed.

        Therefore tolerance should be reserved for that which can’t be changed . With regards to how to get people to get along. By pointing out the real issues.

        Perversion is a culture in the petri dish of Religion…

  22. It has ALWAYS been the main reason for global conflict Tony. Why is the solution so invisible to some people…its simple, stop believing, stop fighting and start living and respecting your neighbour. Just ask an athiest

  23. Religious tolerance, okay. What about irreligious tolerance? If you throw in irreligious tolerance, you’ll have secularism. He can’t boast about secularism with just religious tolerance. Religious tolerance has been pretty much forced on me my whole life, some very specific religions demanded my tolerance, in fact. And I have given it, even when the religious have been and still often are intolerable.

  24. This is the same Tony Blair who’s faith school obsession effectively segregated thousands of children based solely on religion, right? Wouldn’t children in their formative years be more likely to develop a tolerance of alternative ideologies if they weren’t, you know, insulated from them? I don’t think this fellow knows what he wants other than attention.

  25. Ah! The preaching of “love and tolerance”! Perhaps this explains the religious delusions of their own cults’ “loving gods”!

    ‘Love drug’ makes group members lie more – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26771703

    Members of a group are more likely to lie after they inhale the “love hormone” oxytocin, a study has found.

    This hormone is known to be released during close bonding between groups, and mothers also release it during childbirth and breastfeeding.

    The results suggest that individuals in closely bonded groups are more likely to lie when it benefits the group than when it only benefits the individual.

    The study is reported in PNAS journal.

  26. Religion thrives amongst the poor and ignorant – so when you have so little to live for its easy to commit to a “sky fairy” who promises an”eternal” heavenly existence in return for worship, total compliance and in the case of Islam, earthly carnal pleasures for the men who die in martyrdom! We don’t need faith, Tony – we need to STOP indoctrinating children into any religious belief system.
    It shows how little he learnt from that debate he had with the late Christopher Hitchens.
    The business of religion understands only too well how “faith” would fail conclusively if, as adults, once educated and informed, very few would take it up!

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