Tony Blair has said political leaders must “do God” if they are to engage properly with the modern world, even if they have no personal faith or religion.
The ex-Prime Minister was famous for his silent stance regarding personal faith while in office, with his communications officer at the time, Alastair Campbell, notoriously announcing “we don’t do God”.
But since leaving office Mr Blair has converted to Roman Catholicism and is becoming increasingly more open about his faith.
Writing in the New Statesman, guest-edited by Mr Campbell, Mr Blair suggests that even while in office he felt religion was a key to understanding the modern world.
He says that religious faith in the 21st century may be as significant as political ideology was in the 20th century.
Mr Blair said: “As the years of my premiership passed, one fact struck me with increasing force: that failure to understand the power of religion meant failure to understand the modern world.
“Religious faith and how it develops could be of the same significance to the 21st century as political ideology was to the 20th. Leaders, whether of religious faith themselves or not, have to ‘do God’.”
Earlier this month Mr Blair warned UK Christians that they were living in an age of “aggressive secularism” and criticised recent “ludicrous decisions” which have seen many punished for expressing their beliefs.
In an interview with the Church of England newspaper the former Prime Minister said: “I hope and believe that stories of people not being allowed to express their Christianity are exceptional or the result of individual ludicrous decisions.
“My view is that people should be proud of their Christianity and able to express it as they wish. The real test of a religion is whether in an age of aggressive secularism it has the confidence to go out and make its case by persuasion.”