According to news reports, Tony Blair has sparked controversy by claiming that people who speak about their religious faith can be viewed by society as “nutters”.

The former prime minister’s comments came as he admitted for the first time that his faith was “hugely important” in influencing his decisions during his decade in power at Number 10, including going to war with Iraq in 2003.

Blair was reluctant to discuss his faith during his time in office.

Mr Blair complained that he had been unable to follow the example of US politicians, such as President George W. Bush, in being open about his faith because people in Britain regarded religion with suspicion.

Blair said:

“You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you’re a nutter. I mean … you may go off and sit in the corner and … commune with the man upstairs and then come back and say ‘right, I’ve been told the answer and that’s it’.”

Odd thing, though. If you look at the great political achievements of Western civilization they are entirely Christian based. Where does the “All men are created equal” come from? I mean, were the Founding Fathers really as blind as that? Everyone knows all men are not created equally. If you think so you haven’t met my brothers. The created equal supposition is a religious one. In the eyes of God we are equal.

Martin Luther King’s ambitious civil rights movement was based not on political notions. King was a Christian Minister but that is almost entirely disregarded when we honor him publicly. Everyone knows the “I have a dream” speech.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is hardly an agnostic plea.

When we separate our politics from our religion, it is like separating our faith from our actions. Inevitably, our faith will shrivel like an unused muscle. I appreciate that Blair is now openly discussing his faith but I can’t help but feel that an opportunity was missed.