Being religious means being considered a nutter

Given the silly hoo-ha about the Democratic party platform dropping references to god and re-instating them at the last minute, I was amused to read this news story about former British prime minister Tony Blair.

He is religious and converted to Catholicism after leaving office. He once had the idea of mimicking American politicians and ending a speech with the phrase “God bless Britain”. He describes the reaction from his advisors.

“This caused consternation in the whole system. A committee was convened, and we had to discuss it.

“I remember we had this debate on and off but finally one of the civil servants said in a very po-faced way ‘I just remind you Prime Minister, this is not America’ in this very disapproving tone, so I gave up the idea. I think it is a shame that you can’t since it is obviously part of what you are.”

He added that he did not talk about his religious faith while he was still prime minister for fear that people would think he was a “nutter”. Too bad it doesn’t bother him as much that many think of him as a war criminal.

According to Blair, almost all US political leaders would be considered nutters by the British.


  1. says

    Stephen Harper used to end with “God bless Canada” when he first became prime minister, but stopped when it was seen as a detriment to him forming his much desired majority government.

  2. gillyc says

    According to Blair, almost all US political leaders would be considered nutters by the British.

    No, it’s mainly the Republicans who are nutters.

  3. says

    “According to Blair, almost all US political leaders would be considered nutters by the British.”

    Probably the only true thing Bliar’s said to date.
    I’ve lived in the US for more that thirty years and I still see them as nutters: apart from the ones who are raving nutters.
    And by British standards they are all incredibly right wing nutters.

  4. Tony Sidaway says

    I think it’s true that British people see the overtly religious in a poor light. It’s not being religious so much as making it into something public. British people seem to have a tendency to see religious beliefs as a private matter.

  5. HairyChris says

    Being a Brit who, for several years, has had to switch the channel when Blair opens his mouth, I actually agree with something that he said.

    Religion is something that you keep to yourself – much like too many details on children, personal achievements, salary, etc. To blab on about it all the time, as any personal preference, is bad form. Yes, there are various communities (including a number of immigrant ones) where religion is more forward but for your “nice, quiet, middle-class” Brit it’s a bit like washing your genitals in public.

    Not that I mean to fuel a stereotype or anything!

    A good percentage of us think that Blair is a loon, btw. He converted to Catholicism just after leaving office, but previously had definitely done his own talking to god. Sorry, just no. Even the frigging Queen, as head of church, isn’t like that.

  6. slc1 says

    Re HarryChris @ #5

    I’m somewhat curious as to why he waited until he left office to convert.

    Has Great Britain ever had a non-CofE
    or least a non-Protestant PM since, say 1800? And no, Disraeli doesn’t count as he was CofE.

  7. says

    According to Blair, almost all US political leaders would be considered nutters by the British.

    I’m nonplussed to find myself agreeing with Blair about something so important.

  8. says

    No, it’s mainly the Republicans who are nutters.

    The beauty of the way religion is practiced in American politics is that it separates everyone into the nutters who openly blather about religion and really believe it and the compromised cowards who are opportunist atheists who don’t believe it but nod to it anyway out of fear of losing votes.

  9. Kimpatsu says

    “According to Blair, almost all US political leaders would be considered nutters by the British.”
    Actually, Mano, we think ALL Americans are nutters, period…

    Actually, what was interesting was that whilst in office, a journalist once asked Blair if he and Dubya prayed together, and Blair hastily denied it, with Blair’s spin Doctor Alistair Darling (on whom the character of Malcolm Tucker in the comedy The Thick of It was based) saying that “we don’t do god”.
    As we now know, this was untrue, and Tony B. Liar and Dubya did indeed pray together. So the British nutter was just as crazy as the American nutter, but he concealed the fact better.

  10. Anonymous Atheist says

    If saying “God bless America” and such in speeches is being used as the ‘seen as nutters’ determining factor, then unfortunately the Democrats are far from exempt. The Republicans generally go to a much deeper level of nuttery, though.

  11. csrster says

    David Lloyd-George was Protestant but non-CofE. Gordon Brown is, at least nominally, Presbyterian. Blair actually used to attend RC Mass with his wife while he was PM, but wouldn’t convert until after he left office, which strikes me as arrant moral cowardice although I doubt he’d much care what I think.
    (Thatcher was born into a Methodist family but became CofE.)

  12. slc1 says

    Well, maybe that will change after the next election as it is my information that the current leader of the Labor opposition, Ed Miliband, is of the Jewish persuasion. Interestingly enough, it is my information that Mr. Miliband defeated his brother, David, for the leadership post.

  13. Hunter says

    It should be pointed out that both Mano and I reside in America, and are far from being nutters. Your comment is akin to Americans thinking ALL British have bad teeth–it’s demonstrably untrue. Generalizations and whatnot, I understand. Still, there are a great many more atheists in the US than you may realize. We just keep quiet for the most part. 🙂

  14. says

    US politicians would be considered nutters here in Australia as well. Even the lone Family First senator keeps quiet about God.

    We in New South Wales have Rev. Fred Nile who does talk about God and is generally and openly considered to be a nutter. Any pollie who tried to emulate him would be laughed out of office in minutes.

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