04 March, 2006

Heavens above

I'm afraid this sort of thing makes my flesh creep.

Whenever I hear people in high office start citing God as being in any way relative to the practice of politics, I can't help but recoil in horror. For one thing, someone's relationship with religion should be private and personal. If you are so inclined to believe in God, fine, but don't wear that belief in such a way as to castigate and denigrate all those who don't believe in the same God, or in any God, which by extension is precisely what Blair is doing. By equating and explaining the invasion of Iraq through his religions beliefs, he's intimating that all those who opposed the invasion are at odds with those beliefs and are somehow inferior.

He's also being sanctimonious and pompous in ascribing a decidedly non-humanist rationale to the brutally humanist business of sending people into an armed conflict, quite possibly to the deaths.

Worse of all, though, is the manner he relegates the judgement of us, the electorate, who put him into office in the first place, as inferior to the judgement of a (insert caveat to emphasise the arrival of a subjective viewpoint) made-up entity. If only church and state were separate in this country like in France, and politicians were both voted for and appointed to office purely on the value of empirical, enlightened agenda.

Ironically it was Blair who, on coming to power, assured us he had no truck with "dogma and doctrine". Yet it's Christian dogma and doctrine he's been trotting out ever since 1997, whether through carefully stage managed trips to communion, evangelical outbursts at party conferences ("Let us making this the giving age!"), or toe-curlingly embarrassing confessions to grumpy chat show hosts.

Meanwhile I think Stephen Pound is wrong to seek to explain away Blair's witterings by contesting "if this was anything to do with trying to appeal to the electorate, he wouldn't be so excruciatingly honest." He is trying to appeal to us, in the hope that when he goes we'll remember him in sufficiently regal and blessed tones to allow history to judge the war in Iraq not as an illegal occupation but a spiritually-tinged missionary quest.

God alone knows why anyone mixes politics with religion.


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