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Religion and Public Order
10th October 2010
The former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Blair of Boughton, delivered the Theos Annual Lecture in 2010.
In a highly personal speech, in which he reflected on the nature of his own religious faith, Lord Blair acknowledged that religion could be a source of intolerance and violence in the world but said that it was principally a force for good - and should be at the basis of a decent society.
"All religions have, as their core belief, the need for love, for respect for others, for tolerance," Lord Blair said.
A practising Anglican, he noted that "The greatest achievements and ambitions of human social history, such as the abolition of slavery and the provision of universal education or free health care for all, have had their origins in religious impulse." However, he admitted that "This is not the image of religion in this past century or this past decade."
"The agonies of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship, the sectarianism of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, and the arrival of suicide bombers in the West are obscuring the basic decency that comes from the commandments to peace contained in all religions," he said.
Lord Blair, who was made a cross-bench life peer in Gordon Brown's Dissolution Honours List, held the top policing job in the country from 2004 until his resignation in 2008. After only five months in the role of Commissioner, the London bombings of 7 July took place.
This report contains the full text of Lord Blair’s lecture, and the introduction, by writer and broadcaster John Humphrys, serves as a foreword.