Comment (March 2010)

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Bishop's Letter

with Bishop Martin Wharton

There was a great deal of interest in the evidence given to the Chilcot enquiry by former Prime Minister, Tony Blair. A number of commentators emphasised the strong religious conviction that seemed to underline Mr Blair's evidence.

The sincerity of his Christian faith was clear and should not be in question, but the soundness of his judgement should. Unlike their counterparts in the United States and the Middle East, European Statesmen rarely claim to follow compelling moral absolutes in foreign policy. Perhaps they remember only too well the conviction politics of the 1920's and 1930's that landed Spain in a civil war and the rest of Europe in a world war soon after. Perhaps they are glad that, when the Berlin Wall collapsed, another fervent ideology, Communism, collapsed too.

It's not that no one believes in right or wrong any more. It's more a case of once bitten twice shy. Europeans are hesitant about absolute moral stances. They recall that such stances so often come at a very high price.

The sceptics have, as always, been very quick to point the finger at religion. They have been very quick to say what a bad and destructive thing it is. Sadly, sometimes they are right to do so.

Faith should never falsify facts. Faith should not force particular interpretations on evidence. Sincerity alone is never enough. We need to be aware that strong moral and religious convictions can be very dangerous indeed.

Dorothy L Sayers once remarked that the first thing a principle does is to kill somebody. And Christians can do without them. We look to the example of Jesus Christ. His principles killed no one but himself. And on the third day he was raised from the dead.

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