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Arthur James Balfour

1848-1930. British statesman. His religious views were influential because of his political position. In A Defence of Philosophic Doubt (1879), he attempted to justify faith by arguing that all men's basic convictions rest on the nonrational ground of religious faith. He developed this view in Foundations of Belief (1895), and in two sets of Gifford Lectures-Theism and Humanism (1915) and Theism and Thought (1923). During his premiership (1902-5) the Education Act (1902) aroused hostility from Nonconformists and secularists, by placing “non-provided” schools on the rates. This relieved such schools of financial pressure, but involved Free Churchmen in supporting Anglican schools. In 1917 he produced the “Balfour Declaration” which committed Great Britain to securing “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. Balfour was a communicant in both the Anglican and Scottish Presbyterian churches. At one time he took an interest in spiritualism, but later abandoned it.