While most classes ended on Friday with applause and some cookies, others wrapped up the fall with a visit from U.S. Sen. John Kerry ’66 and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
A group of approximately 50 students in the “Faith and Globalization” class pioneered by Blair three years ago listened to the two political figures as they discussed their views on where religion should stand on a worldwide stage.
Both men agreed progress would be reached if faiths reasoned and focused on their similarities.
“There have been too many wars in the name of religion,” Kerry said, adding that it is often the people and not the system that brings a stand still. “We have some closed minded people. Our Congress won’t change overnight.”
Kerry commented on how tolerance towards different theological viewpoints has grown in the past 300 years, but said there is still room for increased open-mindedness. He cited the criticism he received in the 2004 presidential election, the accusations of President Obama being a closeted Muslim and the current scrutiny over Mitt Romney’s Mormonism in the Republican primary as examples.
Blair opened up his speech by joking that a trip to New England is the worst punishment of all.
“You can’t beat religious argument with political one. There is no way battle can ever be won,” he said. “If you view differences as threatening yet the world is coming together, what you get is conflict.”
After both presented their thoughts, attendees were allowed to ask questions for 40 minutes and then a group picture was taken.
Blair then headed to the Levinson Auditorium in the Yale Law School for his talk in the Newman series within an hour.
In the hour-long talk he reiterated his belief in embracing faith’s role in globalization and the Middle East, and offered insight on the British parliamentary system and European Union.
Over 250 people attended the talk.