The former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Blair of Boughton, has said that the image of religion needs to change.
Talking at the 2010 Theos annual lecture, hosted by the religious think-tank, Lord Blair said that religion had been demonised and that this image was being perpetuated by a few dangerous individuals and an uninformed media.
He said that while religion could be a source of intolerance and violence in the world, he believed that it was principally a force for good. Lord Blair, a practising Anglican, said, ‘All religions have, as their core belief, the need for love, for respect for others, for tolerance.
‘The greatest achievements and ambitions of human social history, such as the abolition of slavery and the provision of universal education or free healthcare for all, have had their origins in religious impulse’.
He pointed to the debates over clerical child abuse and religious violence, and added that people of all faiths should move ‘beyond arguments between and within different religions and recover their confidence in the beneficial nature of religion per se’.
The 2010 Theos annual lecture was chaired by the writer and broadcaster John Humphrys. It took place at One Birdcage Walk and was attended by MPs, peers, academics, business people and religious leaders.