An Atheist In Charge Down Under

When I first heard that Australia had got a new Prime Minister, the first woman to hold that position, I sort of yawned. The idea of a woman leading a nation is simply not remarkable to me; women have been in politics long enough and enough women have demonstrated political ability and nerve that it’s been proven to my satisfaction many times over that women can lead politically as well as men.

But when I found out that she does not believe in God, I sat up and took notice. Better yet, she is forthright and then dismissive about the matter:

She says does not go through religious rituals for the sake of appearance.

“I am not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel,” she said.

“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.”

Prime Minister Gillard attained her office by way of a squabble between two factions of the Labor Party, in which it appeared that she led a movement by the more leftward wing to wrest control of the leadership from the Tony Blair-like market reform Laborites led by the former Prime Minister, Paul Kevin Rudd. This is not an auspicious beginning to her leadership of her nation; she must now re-unify her own party and turn the government around, because the opposition Tories can point to both tough economic times and disunity within the Labor party when it comes time for elections again. Gillard will have her work cut out for her.

Talk about things that could never happen here.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. Er, surely you mean: "market reform Laborites led by the former Prime Minister, [Kevin] Rudd"?

  2. Surely you're correct! Apologies for the error and thanks for pointing it out, Hortensio.

  3. I do think you sell the US a bit short but understand and agree that it will still be a long way off before there are the majority opinions to remove religious considerations from the polling booth. I (naively) think that America can vote on character and issue rather than chruch and temple, but at the same time know that those who are not religious directly are often painted as amoral and intolerant.Which is unfortunate as my own experiences show that the percentage of A-hats among both the pious and the skeptic are about the same. Though I confess that as someone of faith I tend to "remember" the skeptic jerks more than others. It's a personal bias I need to grow out of.

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