Blair Names a "Faith Czar"

LONDON, DEC. 16, 2001 ( After naming a drug czar, then a homelessness czar, Prime Minister Tony Blair has created the first «faith czar» to watch over the religiously minded among his flock.

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Blair has appointed John Battle, the former Foreign Office minister and a former Catholic seminarian, as his personal envoy among the Christian denominations and faith groups in Britain, the Telegraph reported.

Battle, the Labor member of Parliament for Leeds West and a practicing Catholic, will advise the Prime Minister on religious issues ranging from the disestablishment of the Church of England to faith schools.

The new faith czar is now visiting mosques, synagogues, temples and churches in an effort to ease tensions between faiths and the outside world.

One of his roles is to reassure the churches that they have the moral support of the Prime Minister, who has made no secret of the influence of his Christianity on his political beliefs.

Battle said he had an important role, particularly at a time when tensions were high. «The question I ask is, are we making space for faith traditions or is the culture shutting them down?» he asked.

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