Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a faith foundation Friday to confront the growing challenges of religious conflict and to mobilize churches to tackle global poverty.
Blair, who converted to Roman Catholicism in December, launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation at the Time Warner headquarters in New York. He said the Foundation has three goals: to promote faith as a force of good, improve knowledge between religions, and to tackle poverty and war, according to BBC.
"In an era of globalization, there is nothing more important than getting people of different faiths and cultures to understand each other better and live in peace and mutual respect; and to give faith itself its proper place in the future,” Blair said in a statement before Friday’s launch.
As there is more “inter-dependence” in the world people need to co-exist and work together to solve problems, he said.
The former British diplomat, who is now a peace envoy to the Middle East, said the Foundation was “how I want to spend the rest of my life,” according to BBC. He revealed that while in office, he feared being labeled a “nutter” for talking about his religious views.
Unlike the United States, faith and politics rarely mix in Britain.
In its first three years, the Foundation plans to give priority to interfaith initiatives to tackle global poverty and to improve understanding between religious groups through education, according to Reuters.
"Tony Blair has argued that faith has to be rescued from those who would use it to divide and those determined to write it off as an irrelevance," the statement from his office said.
"By stressing the values of respect, justice and compassion which the great religions hold in common, he believes faith can help unite the world and shape its direction for the better."
The foundation aims to build up a “war chest” of hundreds of millions of dollars to fund projects to tackle global poverty, such as an anti-malaria campaign, according to Time magazine.
It also seeks to support the U.N. Millennium Development Goals which seeks to tackle the world’s biggest problems, such as poverty and lack of education.
Blair is scheduled to start teaching a course on “faith and globalization” at Yale University in Connecticut in September.