My Take: 10 dos and don'ts for religion and democracy
In France, a woman protests the country's recently adopted ban on burqas in public.
November 11th, 2011
09:38 AM ET

My Take: 10 dos and don'ts for religion and democracy

Editor's Note: Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007, is founder and patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. He gave a speech in Italy on Friday on why the protection of religious freedom should be a priority for all democracies.

By Tony Blair, Special to CNN

1. DO have democracy-friendly religion and religion-friendly democracies.

2. DON’T think you understand democracy if you think it’s only about elections: it’s about a culture and mindset which includes freedom of thought, freedom of expression, political and religious pluralism, and human rights.

3. DO maintain equality of treatment for different religions within the law as a core element of the secular state.

4. DON’T duck difficult conflicts involving religious and secular ideas: discuss them openly.

5. DON’T rush to legislation to solve religious conflict; instead seek first to resolve it by discussion and accommodations.

6. DON’T allow religious schools to opt out of the same national standards and core curriculum that you expect of everyone else.

7. DO listen to religious voices on social, political and economic issues, and allow people to justify their views on explicitly religious grounds if they want.

8. DO insist on religious leaders making their case by reasoned argument not by bald assertion or authoritarian claims. Insist on that for atheists and secular leaders too.

9. DO NOT allow religious voices to have dominance in the public sphere if they cannot achieve majority support through democratic means.

10. DO ensure, whether the overwhelming democratic choice is either an atheist state or one dominant religion, that the voices of religious minorities and those who have no faith are protected.

Remember that none of us are qualified to state with certainty the will of God – so humility, openness to others, and interfaith dialogue are all essential for a healthy society.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tony Blair.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Opinion • Politics

soundoff (382 Responses)
  1. fred

    Tony Blair was prime minister of a country where he was afraid to declare himself a roman catholic. Yet he still has the nerve to go around preaching democracy through his,, no doubt, tax exempt 'foundation'..

    November 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • GodPot

      You do know the UK is a representative democracy right? It hasn't been a Monarchy for quite some time. Not sure what point you are trying to make.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  2. Chad

    Good list Tony! I like it 🙂

    November 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • Angus Walters

      Finally, a great man with decent common sense!

      November 11, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  3. Jay McKeen

    Are you folks posting your comments to a different article, perhaps? Or pretending to read, then posting a comment to whatever peeve was spinning in your head already?

    November 11, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Martin

      If you are trying to apply some sense of rationality to these comments boards.. don't waste your time. They are largely filled with very sarcastic people who don't really care if what they say is related to the topic or if it even makes sense.

      It's composed largely of atheists that come here to bash Christians and Christianity, and very few of them will engage in any rational back and forth.

      It's a board of Mockers.:
      Proverbs 21:24 The proud and arrogant man—“Mocker” is his name; he behaves with overweening pride.

      Psalm 53:1 1The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • Spiffy

      Spiffy 666:666 "The fool says there is a God".

      Quoting someone's opinion must make it true!

      November 11, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Martin

      Spiffy See:


      November 11, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Martin

      There have been many things in the past, and are still many things currently, that Mankind does no know exist. Nevertheless, these things exist. Many atheists sincerely believe that aliens exist, even though there is absolutely no evidence that aliens exist..
      In other words... they have faith that aliens exist.. or they have faith that there are other habitable planets (I believe that) .. there are many things like this.
      The bottom line for the atheist is this: They do WANT to believe in God.. it has nothing to do with evidence, provability or anything like that.. that is the story they tell themselves, because it inflates their ego.. they constantly crow about their "intelligence" and the "Stupidity" of others. It is an ego, arrogance driven philosophy.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Martin

      Scientists used to believe space was filled with "Ether".. it seemed like a reasonable assumption at the time.

      They used to believe there was an isthmus between Africa and South America..seemed reasonable. (fossils)
      The list of these false beliefs of scientists is endless...
      An analytical mind is no bulwark against untrue beliefs.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Colin

      Martin, that is the power of science. It is a self-correcting body of beliefs that is prepared to adopt and eveolve. Religion despises change, becuase it claims a monopoly on the truth.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Through the transparent scientific method, science is constantly correcting current theories and homing in on the truth. Religion on the other hand is just the same old bullshit. I say with confidence that science and secular thinking has corrected religion many more times than religion has corrected science, if religion has in fact ever corrected science.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  4. Robert Johnson

    Sorry Tony. Freedom of thought and freedom of expression cannot be tolerated, since they directly threaten the maintenance of religious dogma.

    November 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  5. Andrew

    What a religious kook.

    November 11, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  6. ...


    November 11, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  7. ...


    November 11, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  8. Ben

    U.N. DON'T plan things like Agenda 21.
    Tony Blair please DO Depopulate yourself, and your cohorts.

    November 11, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  9. ...


    November 11, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  10. ...



    November 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • ...


      November 11, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
  11. ...

    How many times have the presidents lied under oath for the people? I THINK THERE IS A PRICE FOR THAT.

    November 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  12. Jason D

    Becoming the godfather for the head of a corrupt media empire is a slap in the face of the people you so called represented, saying england would never join europe then signed them in inch by inch with their demanding not to at every step...you not only failed the people but by the cowardly governing with the media having more of a say then the very people and the very country you reside in was traitordom of the highest order, to give away the very power you were supposed to guard over, to let murdock run the country his way over the peoples, you should be doing life for treason

    November 11, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  13. Kathy G

    Tony - Will you run for President? Seriously, my only problem is that under your guidelines Christian schools would be required to teach practices against their core biblical beliefs, like Gay behavior, etc. Now really, we have no right to judge or bash gay individuals, they have the right to choose the life style they wish. However we as Christians cannot be required to teach what goes against our beliefs.
    OK, nuf said. kg

    November 11, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  14. Urooj Khan

    I would say the same, put this SOB in Prison for life along with his co-horts as welll. They deserve no mercy and definitely should not be getting articles like this published. He is nothing but "Evil". He will go to HELL.

    November 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  15. *frank*

    Blair has the beady eyes of a scheming weasel.

    November 11, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  16. Deryk Houston

    Tony Blair ignored international law by supporting sanctions on Iraq even when he knew that several hundred thousand children were dying as a direct result of those sanctions. (These facts were reported by agencies on the ground in Iraq for several years and then published in an important 2002 UNICEF report)
    I have nothing but contempt an disgust for this man and I believe that he should be ashamed for his part in that crime. Not to mention the gulf war which was launched to destroy weapons of mass destruction.......even when they knew that none existed. If one remembers Albright's discussion on Sixty minutes........... before the war...she said "It's not so much about the weapons of mass destruction that they actually have...... it is more about the weapons of mass destruction that we think they could build."
    So they actually knew that Saddam didn't have any weapons and yet they insisted on claiming that they had.
    Tony Blair fed into those complete lies....... and he should go down in History for the crimes he committed.

    November 11, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  17. Joe

    Very interesting from someone labeled Bush's lapdog. He's basically saying how great the west is and how evil muslims are.

    November 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  18. Martin

    This guy made a big error:
    6. DON’T allow religious schools to opt out of the same national standards and core curriculum that you expect of everyone else.
    "Hi, I'm from the government, and if you don't teach your children that sodomy is normal, and withhold from them the knowledge that sodomy is responsible for spreading a deadly disease all over the world that has killed millions of people, we'll shut this school down, and maybe we'll take your kids from you"

    It's these kinds of secularists that are going to start the NEXT war.

    November 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Spiffy

      Yeah, because atheists have started soooo many wars.

      S-e-x between a man and a woman have also spread diseases. Does that make it wrong?

      You seem to have a strange anger towards gays, atheists, and liberals. Perhaps you should try to move past your anger and realize that your thoughts and beliefs are both stupid and bigoted.

      November 11, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Martin

      Stating facts that make YOU uncomfortable does not make ME angry. Biblical Lifestyle does NOT spread disease.

      I find it ironic that the gay lobby is the primary backer of massive increases in AIDS funding, while at the same time trying to disassociate from the disease...Talk about cognitive dissonance!

      November 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • Martin

      I just wish they would practice what they preach.. mind their own business and leave my children out of it.

      As it is, public schools are trying to shove GAY down the throats of school children. That's why millions of Christians are fleeing the failing public school system.

      November 11, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Spiffy

      What you are saying are not facts. You said that gays are responsible for spreading AIDS. First off AIDS did not come from gay people having s-e-x, but from monkeys. None of the scientific theories out there about how AIDS came about involve gay people.

      Sure the biblical lifestyle spreads diseases. You have read the Bible haven't you?

      Do you have any proof that the "gay lobby" is the primary backer of AIDS funding? You can't disassociate gay people from AIDS as much as you can disassociate straight people from it.

      No one is making your children gay unless they already are. Learning about gay people isn't bad. People being gay is reality. Plus the majority of younger people support gay marriage.

      Really? "Gay" is being shoved down the throats of school children? Perhaps you are talking about how children are being taught to accept everyone for how they are. Do you have a source to cite for "millions of Christians fleeing the failing public school system" because of acceptance of gays being taught?

      November 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Martin

      If you are unwilling to admit that acts of sodomy are the primary vector (Disease transmission path) for the AIDS virus, then there is no point in continuing the conversation.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Spiffy

      If you are only talking about the U.S and the developed world in general, then yes you are correct. Now if we are talking about on a global scale then you are wrong.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  19. Voiceinthewind

    Put this SOB in Prison for life along with his co-horts as welll as The Shrub and Cheeneey and htier crew, they screwed the world for thier own Greed, and Ego. They deserve no mercy and definitely should not be getting articles like this published, they should be called out for the Evil People they are and punished accordingly.

    November 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  20. Luther

    Romans 12:14
    14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.Do not be conceited.
    17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d says the Lord. 20On the contrary:

    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
    21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    November 11, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.