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

Today, Anthea Cox, the Methodist Church's Coordinating Secretaryfor Public Life and Social Justice, said: 'Tony Blair's interviewon Parkinson on Saturday night firmly reintroduced in the publicarena the ongoing debate about the relationship between faith andpolitics. The resulting controversy and criticism of the PrimeMinister seems to be missing the key questions.

'For most Christians it would seem incredible that key decisionsare not made in the consideration of their faith. Of course formany who campaigned against going to war in Iraq, the impact oftheir Christian understanding led them to a very different view onthe situation. It would seem that Tony Blair is still grapplingwith his own conscience and faith following the decision that hemade.

'On such a significant issue it would be very surprising if aperson of faith were not to engage with such a struggle ofconscience. It was also interesting to see the Prime Minister offera glimpse into the relationship between his emerging faith andcommitment to politics that developed when he was a student. Thiswas very revealing of the dynamic impetus that faith brings to aworldview.

'Surely what we need to demand is that the relationship is shownmore transparently. The churches have a role to play infacilitating this process, enabling politicians and other decisionsmakers to be able to explain what can often feel deeply personal,how their faith is shaping and challenging their decisionmaking.'