06 March 2006

Faith and politics: Methodist response to Tony Blair's Parkinson interview

Today, Anthea Cox, the Methodist Church's Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, said: 'Tony Blair's interview on Parkinson on Saturday night firmly reintroduced in the public arena the ongoing debate about the relationship between faith and politics. The resulting controversy and criticism of the Prime Minister seems to be missing the key questions.

'For most Christians it would seem incredible that key decisions are not made in the consideration of their faith. Of course for many who campaigned against going to war in Iraq, the impact of their Christian understanding led them to a very different view on the situation. It would seem that Tony Blair is still grappling with his own conscience and faith following the decision that he made.

'On such a significant issue it would be very surprising if a person of faith were not to engage with such a struggle of conscience. It was also interesting to see the Prime Minister offer a glimpse into the relationship between his emerging faith and commitment to politics that developed when he was a student. This was very revealing of the dynamic impetus that faith brings to a worldview.

'Surely what we need to demand is that the relationship is shown more transparently. The churches have a role to play in facilitating this process, enabling politicians and other decisions makers to be able to explain what can often feel deeply personal, how their faith is shaping and challenging their decision making.'

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