Tony Blair is leaving behind him a religious time bomb, says NSS
Commenting on the departure of Mr Blair – widely regarded as one of the most religious Prime Minister’s since Gladstone – Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said: “Tony Blair has done more to undermine the secular nature of our society than anyone in recent history. In an effort to placate angry and violent Muslim youths, Mr Blair has opened a Pandora’s Box of religious power-seeking. His encouragement of single faith schools is adding momentum to the already rapid fragmentation of British society. Racial and religious ghettoes are now almost self-contained and operating on a dangerous parallel with the rest of society. By insisting on addressing minority communities through their religious leaders, he has given sometimes extreme clergy an importance quite out of proportion to their real value.”
Mr Wood said that the Government’s policy of consulting religious communities about policy-making had emboldened religious leaders who are now regularly attempting to use their new-found power to thwart socially progressive legislation.
“These people are completely out of step with the wishes of the British people. Hardly anybody in this country knows who their bishop is, and yet the Government still clings to the idea that clerics are somehow ‘representative’.
“Those Muslims who do not wish to be defined primarily or at all by their religion are voiceless. The Government prefers to listen to the noisy theocrats, the mullahs and the imams, who claim to speak for all Muslims. Consequently, the moderate and the integrationist voices from the Muslim community are never heard. All we hear is from the people who want sharia law and more veiling.”
Mr Wood said that all the statistics show that Britain is probably one of the least religious nations in the world, and yet Mr Blair had placed religion at the top of the national agenda. In doing so, he has set a time bomb of conflict that will explode in future generations.
Mr Wood acknowledged that the Blair administration had overseen a “wonderful programme of equality legislation – much of it long overdue” - – even though much of it was required by EU directives.