The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Hitchens and Blair to debate

This should be interesting, to say the least:

Thumbnail image for hitchens-blair-m_937541cl-3.jpgOne is a prominent atheist, the other a devout Roman Catholic. Both share mutual admiration for each other, but for a few hours next month, they will be adversaries, facing off over the contentious topic of religion.


Renowned author and journalist Christopher Hitchens and former British prime minister Tony Blair will share a stage for the sixth semi-annual Munk Debates this November.

“This debate is not about the existence of God,” says Rudyard Griffiths, co-director and moderator of the Munk Debates.

“We have asked Mr. Blair and Mr. Hitchens to wrestle with the more immediate question facing developed and developing nations: Is religion a force for peace or conflict in the modern world?” he explained.

The official resolution, “Be it resolved, religion is a force of good for the world,” is close to the hearts of both debaters.

Arguing for the resolution, Mr. Blair said: “Understanding religion and people of faith is an essential part of understanding our increasingly globalized world.”


“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. But there are a lot of misconceptions out there about religion.

“Challenging the myths that are born out of the actions and words of a controversial few is incredibly important,” added Mr. Blair, who has served as the Quartet’s special envoy to the Middle East, and recently released his bestselling memoir, “A Journey: My Political Life.”

Read on.

Comments read comments(23)
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Dev Thakur

posted October 13, 2010 at 11:19 am

In what world is Mr. Blair a “devout” Catholic? By his own description?

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posted October 13, 2010 at 11:53 am

Dev, you are right in what your imply about Tony Blair. But let’s give him time and a chance. All things are possible with God.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Yeah, I have to admit I’m a little cynical about Tony Blair doing this, but as Goodguyex says, let’s wait and see – all things *are* indeed possible with God.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Give Blair a chance? I mean, the guy is already a world-class war criminal, as well as a supporter of dozens upon dozens of anti-Catholic and anti-Christian causes. Calling him ‘devout’ is a bit of journalistic stupidity to laugh (and cry) about.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Blair is a hypocrite and mental lightweight. Hitchens, who is many unpleasant things, is not and will wipe the floor with Phony Tony. Almost makes me wonder if Blair signed on to be the fall guy.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I believe it was our Holy Father who is the source of the commendation of Mr. Blair as well as his wife Cherie, who serves as an advisor to the Holy See on social justice and human rights matters.

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Patricia Cornell

posted October 13, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Hmmmmis he the same Tony Blair, previously a leader in the British government? And he just recently became a Roman Catholic a couple of years ago? And he is a devout Catholic…hmmmmm…..same one? And he had an audience with the Holy Father? Hmmmmmm………how would YOU ALL READERS define ‘devout’? I have tried to be a devout Romas Catholic for 26 years, and it is hard and some days I wonder if I made it that day……devout? Hmmmmmm God will help him during the debate….Patricia in St. Louis, MO

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posted October 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm

martyn wheaton

posted October 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Mr. Blair, as normal, will cause more damage than good. He is a relativist in all matters – especially the Catholic faith. He joined the Church because it is the major religion (just) of the West. And he sees it as a platform to proclaim his personal gospel, although no one is quite sure what it actually is.
His only saving grace is his ignorance. Almost immediately following his reception into the Church he made several speeches all proclaiming the good of such things as gay marriage and woman priests (priestess. He was informed of the true Catholic position, and seemed genuinely shocked. In short he never understood the Faith in the first instance. Not surprising, really. His wife is barking mad and he was instructed and received into the faith by none other than Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor (retd – thanks be to God). You may recall his infamous statement at an ecumenical gathering (where he sought the affirmation of his ego rather than the glory of God,he stated,’Unity is more important than truth’. So you can be sure his disciple Blair will come out with the same tosh.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 5:20 pm

The pro-abortion, pro-homosexual Blair is no devout Catholic; he is perhaps the worst public figure in England for the job – what a lousy advocate for the church of Mother Teresa and John Paul II!

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Michael Lenerz

posted October 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I hardly would call Mr. Blair a representative “devout Roman Catholic” based on some of his recent comments, but will be interested in hearing how he defends the Church otherwise.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Devout? Really? …. In any case, Hitchens will destroy him because he has convictions, however wrong they are.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Interesting…I think not. I am worried about damage control. I pray Tony Blair proves me wrong, but he hardly greets me with confidence…….especially against the formidable Hitchens.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Blair and Hitchens need prayers, prayers prayers… well especially Blair actually.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I think before the debate gets underway there must be an agreement on precisely what the terms ‘religion’, ‘good’, and ‘human civilization’ mean within the context of the proposition to be argued otherwise there will be an almighty confusion with the resultant discussion rendered pointless from the start.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Blair is such a bumbling fog head. He will be eaten alive because his “convictions” are so lukewarm on the Faith. Not long ago he was suggesting the Church change some of its teachings and saying the Pope was wrong about homosexuality.
Hitchens on a bad day could chew him up and spit him out, because as wrong as he is–his convictions remain staunch. Blair is a lightweight who will stutter watered down opinions. No threat.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Blair devout?! You know, sometimes one learns a lot more from a piece about the writer than what he’s writing about.
Hitchens’ is intellectual reputation is far far greater than the intelligence of his positions. However in the eyes of the public, and most post-Vatican II Catholics, Hitchens’ will destroy Blair.
Of course the question being discussed is a moronic assumption which is a great example of what lies at the heart of the moral relativism which has become pop-philosophy and most western christian thought.

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posted October 14, 2010 at 12:22 am

The Holy Spirit can do wonderful things and the Truth has a tendency to shine brightly. Hopefully the discussion of an intellectual relativism will do more to demonstrate its illogical foundation than anything else.

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posted October 14, 2010 at 8:08 am

This may be popular event but Mr. Blair’s own statements on his beliefs in the Catholic faith seem lukewarm at best (heretical on homosexuality). I think I will pass on listening to this one. Hithens is fun to listen to but his line of argumentation for his beliefs is pathetic.

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posted October 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

This will be high farce. The atheistic position being represented by a foggy headed ex-drinker, and Catholicism represented by a Modernist heretic. To paraphrase a devout Traditional Priest from the last century when asked if he would vote for either Kerry, or Bush, he said “no, I shall be in St. Patrick’s Cathedral praying God delivers us from these evil Bonesmen.”
Usquequo Domine, Usquequo,

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posted October 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

“Is religion a force for peace or conflict in the modern world?”
I really dislike these kinds of questions. When someone talks like this, he is asking a utilitarian question, all such questions boiling down to the following: “Is X useful or not?”
Nobody should care whether a religious belief is useful, or harmful, or whatever. The only thing that matters is whether or not it is true. Consider for instance if a certain belief was both true and “harmful.” Should a society attempt to indoctrinate its members to get rid of it? It depends on what the society preferred: to live a lie for the sake of comfort, or to face the truth despite its “harmfulness.”
I think both believers and non-believers can agree: truth is more important that usefulness. Debates like this (especially between Hitchens and Blair, of all people) are useless and are more entertaining than enlightening.

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posted October 16, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Sorry Tony B. you can’t be a Catholic if you criticize the Pope, unless of course you are a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Another concoction of Anglicism is my guess.

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posted October 17, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I thought Tony Blair and his wife are pro-choice…How ‘Catholic” can they really be?

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