Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Atheist world leader watch

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When Julia Gillard became Australia's first female prime minister last week, replacing Kevin Rudd, many were quick to point out that in addition to being (would you believe it?) a woman, Gillard is also openly and unashamedly atheist.

Now that, in itself, is not necessarily a shock, but as we in Britain are more than aware, politicians aren't usually happy to wear their non-belief on their sleeves, for fear of alienating religious voters (c.f. Deptuty PM Nick Clegg). And you have to suspect that some politicians keep their atheism quiet in order to avoid offence and remain in office. Just look at the US – California congressman Pete Stark is thought to be the only openly atheist national politician. Even if we only take "national politician" to mean members of Congress, that's still only 1 in 535. Are we really to seriously think that Stark is the only person out of all those to not believe in a deity?

However, talking about her atheism in an interview today, Gillard made it clear that she feels no embarrassment about her atheism:
"I am not going to pretend a faith I don't feel. I am what I am and people will judge that. For people of faith, I think the greatest compliment I could pay to them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretence about mine. I grew up in the Christian church, a Christian background. I won prizes for catechism, for being able to remember Bible verses. I am steeped in that tradition, but I've made decisions in my adult life about my own views. I'm worried about the national interest. About doing the right thing by Australians. And I'll allow people to form their own views about whatever is going to drive their views. What I can say to Australians broadly of course is I believe you can be a person of strong principle and values from a variety of perspectives."
What a refreshingly honest and unpatronising attitude.

6 comments:

dB said...

The front page of Melbourne's free MX newspaper (sort of a more tabloidy version of London's Metro) the day she got sworn in read "OMG Julia, you said what? - God snubbed by new prime minister". Apparently, she "gave the man upstairs the cold shoulder". Quality journalism.

freddies_dead said...

I'm surprised that alongside being a woman and an atheist no-one pointed out that she's also a *sharpintakeofbreath* GINGER!

Shane said...

Only a Ginger, can call another Ginger; Ginger......:D

Paddy said...

Lest we forget what the late George Carlin once said ....

" If honesty was suddenly introduced into American life, the entire system would collapse".

And I couldn't agree with him more. So lets not fool ourselves into believing she's any different except a lil more upfront that others, when the cats are out of bags and running on the streets.

Garkbit said...

It's worse than that - she's a Welsh-Aussie Ginger Atheist. If she wasn't born with horns and a "666" birthmark on her inner thigh then I want to know the reason why not!

Anonymous said...

How did this lady get voted to office? She seems rational, and still had a soul. But she's a politician. Maybe she's like the female equivalent of Bill Clinton, where her husband sells souls for a living.

Or it's the hair color...