So at last the much predicted conversion of Tony Blair to Catholicism has happened. Much has been made of the timing of his conversion- after leaving office rather than before. Anyone who has observed Mr Blair’s behaviour over the last decade will not be surprised. Despite his repeated talk about his faith such faith has always taken second place to political expediency. Despite the rhetoric his policies have not been driven by genuine convictions but by what he can get away with in the court of public opinion. Once again his conversion to Catholicism has reflected the fact that political gain always comes before convictions. This is something that he has already admitted by his acknowledgement that he refrained from speaking publicly about his faith for fear of being called a ‘nutter.’ His knowledge of what it means to follow Christ has obviously not be shaped by Jesus teaching in the gospels.
The news of his conversion has also re-ignited the debate about how he led us into the Iraq war. Here he stated that he prayed before taking this momentous decision. It is a typical Blairism- the public are expected to accept what he has done rightly or wrongly because he claims to be sincere. There is no need to enter any kind of debate because he says he is sincere. But the reaction to this statement has been fairly typical- what was a Christian doing leading the country, we should have had an atheist! Of course the argument is that atheism is rational based on neutral reasoning, unclouded by any external factors and moral(!?) Its a view of atheism that is a much a caricature of atheism as it is of Christianity.
If Blair has been guided in his politics by Christian faith it is not a Christian faith that I recognise or would want any part of- all rhetoric and no substance.