Conflict and compassion | Tony Blair discusses the two faces of religion
Today Tony Blair, Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, delivered a key note speech and answered questions on the impact of faith and globalisation on Hong Kong and the wider region, at a lecture held in the University of Hong Kong (HKU).
This lecture inaugurated the partnership between the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s global network of leading universities, the Faith and Globalisation Initiative (FGI) and HKU’s Faith and Global Engagement Initiative.
Tony Blair spoke of the significance of the partnership between his Foundation and the Faith and Global Engagement Initiative at HKU.
Addressing an audience of HKU students and professors Tony Blair, Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation said: “The initiative is very timely. This part of the world is one of the fastest areas of growing Christianity as well as many other faiths. HKU has a steadfast commitment to scholarship and freedom. The basis for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faith and Globalisation Initiative is similar. I am delighted and honoured to be partnering with HKU, I could not think of a better partner or a better part of the world.”
“My vision for the Faith and Global Engagement at HKU is to change the nature of the debate - I want people to see that you have to take religion seriously and I want to help build interfaith understanding.”
Professor Daniel Chua, Director of Humanities at HKU said: “Leaders should be intelligently engaged with the questions of faith and the global impact. We formed the Faith and Global Engagement programme to initiate a conversation in the spirit of hospitality. Whoever you are and whatever you believe in we want to engage with you about religion. Our initiative here at Hong Kong University has much in common with the principles of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. For this inaugural lecture on Faith and Global Engagement, "I am honoured to welcome Tony Blair".
Tony Blair stressed the urgency of understanding the impact of religion in the modern world:
“Just look at the news and you see the impact of both everywhere; in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the debate over whether or not orthodox Jews should serve in the military in Israel. The face of religion in this environment is two-fold: conflict and compassion. Much of the news about religion is about conflict. However, religion is also capable of great compassion. For example, much of the improvement in health for continental Africa is as a result of religious centred endeavours.
“We can promote this face of compassion by firstly, treating religion as religion. There is a temptation to view religious problems as political problems, especially for politicians. If the heart of the matter is religious, than the religious element must be understood for what it is: religious. Secondly, by building platforms of inter-faith dialogue and action. Thirdly, through research and scholarship. Religion has much to say from many perspectives on many issues. What is required is proper, in depth and rigorous research into these issues. This is where these programmes and the work of HKU can help."
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faith and Globalisation Initiative (FGI) is a network of leading universities around the world, collectively exploring the relationship between religion and globalisation. Through the Faith and Globalisation network, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation is supporting policy makers, and future leaders, equipping them to appreciate religion’s presence in the world and its relationship to decision-making and public policy.
Significantly HKU is the ninth university in the world and the second in China (following Peking University) to join FGI. In collaboration with other FGI partner institutions, HKU’s Faith and Global Engagement Initiative will explore topics including religion and conflict, religion in public life, and human rights bringing critical analysis to the forefront of global debate.
The new Faith and Global Engagement initiative course at HKU will bring a unique perspective to the academic and policy analysis of the relationship between faith and globalisation. Hong Kong’s position at the nexus of East/West relations, adds an important voice to this global debate.