The problem with this is that the people who don’t share his particular view of the Qu’ran presumeably won’t think their understanding is “warped and misapplied”, any more than Christian fundamentalists believe that their literal interpretations are incorrect.
The fault lines in religion are immense; the only thing they have in common is the belief that a supernatural entity is in ultimate control of the world and that they alone have the key to understanding the rules it wants us to live by. Unfortunately they don’t agree on the rules which is where the problem lies.
Blair has experienced this himself:
Mr Blair cites a meeting at the Davos Economic Forum a few years ago. There were representatives of four different faiths on the platform, each with what he calls ''an exclusive truth claim’’ for their religion. He asked them if they thought that only their faith led to salvation. ''It was interesting to see them reacting as politicians react. I spotted all the techniques of walking round it.’’The fatal flaw with ecumenicalism is exacty this. No religion will give up its exclusive claim to the truth and none of these truth claims can be empirically verified to anybody’s satisfaction. It is impossible to settle the dispute and there is no middle ground, even for the most moderate of faith leaders.
This is not to say that individuals cannot concede that many paths to salvation may exist and indeed liberal interpretations are lived within many faiths. Blair himself is avowedly one of these:
As a Catholic convert, he ''accepts the doctrine of the Catholic Church’’, but ''I’m not a doctrinal ideologue’’. He feels ''no great revulsion, quite the opposite’’ for the Church of England, which he left. He became a Catholic because of his Catholic wife, Cherie, and their family: ''I didn’t really analyse a great deal. I just felt more at home there.’’
he also believes that the anti-religion, Richard Dawkins crowd make everything worse. The extreme atheists ''require religious fundamentalists’’ to make their argument for them, so ''We must push back against aggressive secularism’’.None of the new atheists to my knowledge argue entirely from the narrative of religious fundamentalism; secularism is not dependent on the actions of terrorists, as though they were a ‘necessary evil’ for the movement to exist. Secularists, Dawkins among them, see reason and verifiable data as the route to a fair and decent society. This is not calling for state imposed atheism, people of religious conviction can still argue for the kind of society they want, but religion itself cannot be the raison d’etre because Tony Blair’s ecumenical vision is unattainable, an ineffable carrot offered by religion to match their claims of salvation.