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once the real work is over

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 25, 2007

U.S. presidential candidates, regardless of their heathendom, know they have to feign interest in religion to get elected, and typically hire consultants to coach them in the finer points of Christian doctrine, such as which half of the Bible the New Testament is found in. Europe is stuck in the opposite dilemma. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, widely rumored to become a Roman Catholic soon, claims his Christian faith was hugely important to him, but that he camouflaged his interest so as not to come across as a crack-pot. From a BBC story:

Tony Blair avoided talking about his religious views while in office for fear of being labelled "a nutter", the former prime minister has revealed.

In an interview for BBC One's The Blair Years, he said that his faith had been "hugely important" to his premiership. His ex-spokesman Alastair Campbell once told reporters: "We don't do God."

Mr Campbell has now acknowledged to the programme that his former boss "does do God in quite a big way", but that both men feared the public would be wary.

I hope Blair does convert and embrace a sturdy orthodox Catholicism. But something is out of order when a man's religion must be kept unused and its original wrapping intact until the burdens of adulthood are past. Blair's delayed conversion is reminiscent of the Emperor Constantine's delayed baptism: just as Constantine (we're told) put off his baptism to the last days of life in order to be able to sin boldly in the interim, Blair's career has been that of a dutiful Labour Party pol -- pro-abortion, pro-gay, pro-condom. It's hard not to welcome a convert, but to welcome him whole-heartedly is hard when his unrepented public life is a counter-witness to Church teaching about the social order.

C.S. Lewis wrote, "When the modern world says to us aloud, 'You may be religious when you are alone,' it adds under its breath, 'and I will see to it that you never are alone.'" The example Blair gives by putting off his religion ("We don't do God") until reassuming his private life shows just how small the remaining patch of privacy has become, and it testifies to the triumph -- in the UK, at any rate -- of worldly contempt for a lived Christian faith.

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