Leading article: Heaven forbid

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The Independent Online

Oh, the liberties that a politician can allow himself in his final term of elected office! Time was when Mr Blair steered clear of religion, following Alastair Campbell's golden rule: "We don't do God". Religion in politics is one of those cultural traits that separate Britain from the United States, where they - and their current President - "do" God in a very big and very political way. We don't.

For Mr Blair to invoke God as the ultimate arbiter of his decision to go to war in Iraq suggests marks a change. In the past, the Prime Minister took the secular view that history would be his judge. With history turning against him in Iraq, perhaps God offers the prospect of greater mercy. Or perhaps, without another election to fight, Mr Blair feels less need to make allowances. If he now feels that he can be truer to himself in public remarks, that is all to the good. But it would be very bad indeed if he set a trend for "doing" God in British politics.