Tony Blair has finally escaped from Alistair "we don't do God" Campbell's strictures and has just given a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. (Apart from the sheer unlikelihood of having an atheist president of the USA, I guess if they did he'd still have to go along to the National Prayer Breakfast and, basically, go along with it).
Anyway, Blair's speech included phrases that would have caused Alistair to explode if he'd inserted them in his party conference piece (e.g. 'in surrendering to God we become instruments of his love') and a very clear exposition of his belief that 'only God' or 'faith alone' is the answer. Which I for one would have found slightly alarming if he'd said it when he was PM, even though I suppose I always knew that's what he, as a committed Christian, must have believed.
More disconcerting, however, was this passage:
"Today, religion is under attack from without and from within. From within, it is corroded by extremists who use their faith as a means of excluding the other. From without, religious faith is assailed by an increasingly aggressive secularism, which derides faith as contrary to reason and defines faith by conflict. Thus the extreme believers and the aggressive non-believers come together in unholy alliance."
I don't actually think - Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens notwithstanding - that we are seeing an increasingly aggressive secularism. And yes, I suppose those writers do 'deride' faith as 'contrary to reason', and some will find the tone offensive. For many more of us though, it - the notion that faith is contrary to reason - is just what we believe. And surely we should be allowed to say that too?