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Toronto, Canada (Nov 29) – Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair took to the stage on Canadian TV to debate the role of religion in world affairs against atheist columnist Christopher Hitchens. Catholic convert Blair argues that faith is a force for good and that trying to drive it out would be “futile.” Hitchens, who has terminal cancer, argues that religion forces people into doing terrible things.
The debate took place in Toronto’s Roy Thompson hall in front of 2700 people. At the end of the debate, the crowd voted 2-1 in favor of Mr. Hitchens argument. In a 23-country poll taken by the organizers of the event it showed that, of the people polled, the world is almost evenly split on the subject.
Tony Blair did acknowledge that horrific acts had been committed in the name of religion, but claims that a “world without faith would be morally diminished.” The former Prime Minister, and ardent warmonger claimed that his decision to invade Iraq was based on policy, and not religion. Which is true, we all know his reasons; find oil, steal oil, run.
Christopher Hitchens has long been outspoken about religion and faith. He once described Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as “the real axis of evil”, he said during the debate that religion “was a cruel experiment whereby we are created sick and ordered to be well” His ability to make the audience laugh at how he saw faith and religion ensured the narrow victory.
In the 23 country poll by Ipsos in which 18,192 people were questioned, 48% of those people believe that the basic morals that religion teaches is integral to a balanced, and civilized society. Whereas the remaining 52% believe that religious beliefs promote intolerance, exacerbate ethnic divisions and impede social progress in developed and developing countries alike.
If you read between the lines here, some of the 48% of people who said that religion teaches morals said so out of a common ailment amongst the religious, Catholics in particular. It is called Catholic Guilt, and it exists. Some people are terrified to acknowledge what they feel in their heart because of their religious upbringing. I know this because I still suffer from it, from time to time. Although I am starting to get a handle on it after 28 years. Obviously, some people believe it. I am simply pointing out that I doubt the effect of Catholic Guilt was factored into the findings.
In general it is the rich countries who care less about religion, with the exception of The USA, where 65% said it has a positive impact. I would like to know how many of those 65% would admit intolerance towards other religions. In Sweden, only 19% felt religion was a force for good.
Tony Blair said before the debate “the good that people of faith all over the world do every day, motivated by their religion, cannot be underestimated and should never be ignored.” One glaring problem I see in that statement is that I do good things every day. Just yesterday I picked up an old ladies walking stick and held the door open for some old guy (he didn’t say thank you, but that’s beside the point) I didn’t do these things because of any religious beliefs, I did it because, most of the time, I am a good person. It has nothing to do with religion.
If you share the view of Tony Blair that we should somehow give thanks to the great things he imagines religious people do every day, then you should really get a hold of yourself before your ego becomes too much to handle, moreover we should hold the criminals who hid behind faith, accountable for their actions. Start executing people it is only fair. Statements such as the one Blair crapped out his mouth only go to show the aforementioned intolerance. Faith should be a private thing and should have no place in world affairs. I only wish they had worked that out sooner.