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Younger evangelicals less homophobic than their elders, says Blair

Younger evangelicals less homophobic than their elders, says Blair April 9, 2009

A DIVISION is emerging between younger and older evangelicals on the issue of homosexuality, with younger people being less likely to want to be labeled anti-gay.
That’s the view of ex-PM-turned-Roman-Catholic Tony Blair, who also says that the Catholic Church should change with the times.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Blair, according to this report, made his comments in an interview with the British gay magazine Attitude.
He said:

In my Faith Foundation I have a lot of links with some of the evangelical groups in the US and elsewhere, and, actually, I think there is a generational shift that is happening there. If you talk to the older generation, yes, you will still get a lot of pushback, and parts of the Bible quoted, and so on. But actually, if you look at the younger generation of evangelicals, this is increasingly for them something that they wish to be out of – at least in terms of having their position confined to being anti-gay.

He added:

I think, increasingly in America amongst the younger generation, even if they’re on the Republican right, even if they’re evangelical, I just don’t think the attitude of being anti-gay is of the same force as it was the previous generation.

Blair said that his own background had led to his liberal views on the subject of homosexuality.

Because I came to a religious faith through people who were themselves very much open and liberal on all these issues, and who would have regarded it as bizarre to have attitudes of hostility to gay people.

Given the divisions that exist in the Anglican community alone over homosexuality, it is difficult to see how Blair’s Faith Foundation will ever achieve its lofty ideal of bringing about better cohesion and understanding among the world’s major religions on this, or any other contentious issue.
In The New Statesman in March, Blair set out the aims of his Faith Foundation. He concluded:

The 21st century will be poorer in spirit and ambition, less focused on social justice, less sensitive to conscience and the common good, without a full and proper recognition of the role that the great faiths can and do play. I hope my foundation, in its own way, can work with others in those faiths to help harness their full power to transform our world for the better.

Prof Richard Dawkins
Prof Richard Dawkins
This prompted Professor Richard Dawkins to pen a cutting retort – in the form of an open letter to “Dear Person of Faith” – in which he comprehensively rubbished Blair’s piece.
Addressing Blair’s assertion that, under FF plans, “children of one faith and culture will have the chance to interact with children of another, getting a real sense of each other’s lived experience”, Dawkins said:

Cool! And, thanks to Tony’s policy of putting as many children as possible in faith schools where they can’t befriend kids from other backgrounds, the need for this interaction and mutual understanding has never been so strong. You see how it all hangs together? Sheer genius!
So strongly do we support the principle that children should be sent to schools which will identify them with their parents’ beliefs, that we think there is a real opportunity here to broaden it out. In Phase 2, we look to facilitate separate schools for Postmodernist children, Leavisite children and Saussurian Structuralist children. And in Phase 3 we shall roll out yet more separate schools, for Keynesian children, Monetarist children and even neo-Marxist children.

Dawkins concluded:

I hope this letter will have shown you some of the reasons why you might consider supporting Tony’s Foundation. Because hey, let’s face it, a world without religion doesn’t have a prayer. With so many of the world’s problems caused by religion, what better solution could there possibly be than to promote yet more of it?

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