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.