“The message of the prophet Mohammed, saving one life is as if you’re saving the whole of humanity, the Hindu searching after selflessness, the Buddhist concepts of Kuruni … which all subjugate selfish desires to care for others, Sikh insistence on respect for others of another faith. That in my view is the true face of faith. And the values derived from this essence offer to many people a benign, positive and progressive framework by which to live our daily lives. Stimulating the impulse to do good, disciplining the propensity to be selfish and bad…

“So I do not deny for a moment that religion can be a force for evil, but I claim that where it is, it is based essentially on a perversion of faith, and I assert that at least religion can also be a force for good, and where it is, that it’s true to what I believe is the essence of faith, and I say that a world without religious faith would be spiritually, morally and emotionally diminished.

“So I know very well that you can point and quite rightly Christopher does to examples of where people have used religion to do things that are terrible. And that have made the world a worse place. But I ask you not to judge all people of religious faith by those people, any more than we would judge politics by bad politicians. Or indeed journalists by bad journalists.

“The question is, along with all the things that are wrong with religion, is there also something within it that helps the world to be better and people to do good, and I would submit there is. Thank you. (Applause).”

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