THE current issue of Time magazine has Tony Blair on its cover. This is not because of the approaching first anniversary of his departure from No 10 Downing Street or on account of his many political and business activities.

It concerns the Faith Foundation which he launched in New York last week. It will probably have come as an unpleasant surprise to Mr Blair, therefore, that yesterday the Church of England published a report with the title Moral, Without a Compass that accuses his Labour government of “deep religious illiteracy” and having “no convincing moral direction.” Worse, it says that while Muslim communities are courted, funded and feted, the country's majority Christian communities are barely given a second thought.

On reflection, Mr Blair may just smile and say that such accusations show exactly why his Foundation is needed. One of its main purposes is to encourage different faiths to encounter one another “through action as much as dialogue”. People of different faiths, he thinks, need to learn more about one another and understand where they can work in common. The alternative is that religious people will be tempted to define themselves in exclusion to others rather than in co-operation with them - with predictably disastrous results.

One of the proposals in the Church of England report is for a “Minister for Religion” with an office in No 10. Gordon Brown should watch out - the job might just appeal to Tony Blair!