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Australia's New Leader Is An Atheist: Americans, Don't Try This At Home!

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When Julia Gillard became Australia's first female prime minister last week she quickly earned international headlines and received a congratulatory call from President Obama for her accomplishment.

Now it turns out she's broken another barrier that, for American voters at least, would be far more daunting than her gender: She doesn't believe in God.

"No, I don't," she told an interviewer at Australia's national radio, ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) who asked her point blank if she believed in God. "I'm not a religious person."

"I was brought up in the Baptist Church, but during my adult life I've, you know, found a different path. I'm of course a great respecter of religious beliefs, but they're not my beliefs."
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Gillard was a studious Christian as a child, winning prizes for catechism lessons and for memorizing Bible verses. But, she noted, "I've made decisions in my adult life about my own views."

The new Australian P.M. is known for her razor-sharp debating skills and direct answers to direct questions, and that was also evident in her interview with ABC radio in Melbourne about her religion, or lack of it.

"I am not going to pretend a faith I don't feel," she said, according to the audio. "And for people of faith the greatest compliment I could pay to them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretense about mine. I think it's not the right thing."

It's hard to imagine any U.S. politician saying such a thing about religion, or being so straightforward about most anything.

Our pols have their reasons, of course. Polls consistently show that even as Americans grow increasingly comfortable with voting for women, racial or religious minorities, or a homosexual, they are still not likely to back an atheist.

The latest Gallup poll on that question, posed in 2007, showed that 53 percent of American voters said they would not vote for an atheist for president -- the highest negatives of any of the categories. (Gallup has not asked about a Muslim candidate, and odds are that would score even lower. Cold comfort for atheists.) Some 43 percent said they would not vote for a homosexual candidate, and 55 percent said they would be willing to back a gay or lesbian for president.

In 2007, the Secular Coalition for America offered a $1,000 prize to anyone who could guess the name the "highest level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of non-theist currently holding elected public office in the United States." California's Pete Stark, a 19-term Democratic House member from the Bay Area, proved to be the correct answer, as he acknowledged he is "a Unitarian who does not believe in a Supreme Being."

But it's not like he created a rush on atheist candidates, and of course in the next year the victorious contender for president was Barack Obama, probably the most overtly religious Democratic candidate in years.

Julia Gillard, on the other hand, was able to say that she shared the values of her fellow Australians, if not their religious beliefs.

"What I can say to Australians broadly of course is that I believe you can be a person of strong principle and values from a variety of perspectives. And I've outlined mine to you."

And that seems to be working. An online poll at The Australian newspaper showed that two-thirds of the nearly 15,000 readers who responded to a question about Gillard's beliefs said they didn't care about her "lack of a religious faith."

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westdude666

Ms Gillard is right. She is working for the people and for the Country; not for deities. Here I quote something interesting found on the web:
~~~~~~
INAUGURATION CEREMONIES
Spring2010 By Flavioos


Our Constitution is a governing Chart with the basic laws and fundamental principles that guide our country and protect the rights of its people. It is our “Magna Charta“, and the basic responsibility of our government is to protect that precious document and follow precisely the rules established therein.

Thus, why during inauguration of presidents and other federal and state officers, instead of using the book of Constitution, a bible is used for the Oath ceremony which closes with the words “So, help me God”? It contradicts principles of the Constitution itself when referring to the separation of church and state. Inaugurations should have a character purely patriotic, leaving religion strictly for the privacy of those who practice it.

Religionists contend that the bible is used because the United States is a Christian Country. But that simply sounds like a “tricking excuse” to preclude possibilities of a non-religious person taking office. In reality, being enriched by a large variety of cultural backgrounds, our Country is formed also by a variety of believers that includes those whose beliefs have nothing to do with church and religion and to whom, according to the Constitution, civil rights are equally granted. When a president (or other sworn officer) doesn’t perform his duties properly, the people fire him. But for a balance of justice, they should fire God, instead, for not helping that officer who, worrying about his coming responsibilities and general commitments, concluded his Oath by exhorting: “So, help me God”.

The truth however, is that religious or not, elected officers must strongly believe in themselves, the crew around them and the people at large because all they together -- not deities -- are the only ones responsible for the success and prosperity or the failure and disgrace of the country. 

February 06 2011 at 9:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Laverne

Not being permitted to state my true feelings or opinions, I will just say, I feel Julia Gillard winning the election by popular demand seems to be what the people want as far as her religious beliefs are. I guess I want, for the leaders of America to believe in God, too be able and know they can talk with God about anything, and He will help them to make the correct decisions for the people....because if we have God behind us, nothing can harm us. The way the United States of America has been heading, believers in Jesus Christ, who is GOD, and the only GOD does not seem to be important for heads of the highest offices in the land anymore. You will see, in the near future, what happens, when a nation turns away. God bless the United States of America, and Israel, because Israelites are God's Chosen People, and we must, WE MUST support them. Thank you for posting my opinion, and God help us all.

July 27 2010 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth, Muhammed, dead preachers, who at their time of existence lived the life of people who lived the science and thoughts of their time. We have come a long way and through science denounced many of the beliefs that they preached. I don't know how anyone could look at the Hubble telescope webpage and see the pictures from light years away and believe that one man, spirit or god created this universe that's been around from 14-16 billion years old.

July 09 2010 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
annedyth

Bat.
Don't count on it.

July 06 2010 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
luv2boma

I am more than curious. Where have you ever heard or read, that most or any Atheist practice(s) "The" or any "Golden Rule"?

July 01 2010 at 3:03 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
nanjimlom

I have struggled with the GOD problem for most of my adult 71 years. I believe that the human race and this planet evolved and were not created by some higher power. Having said that, most religions, no matter what creed, preach the golden rule. It is necessary to have community with love and tolerance if we are to exist in peace. Most atheists also practice the golden rule.

July 01 2010 at 11:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Scott

That's OK because I don't believe in Australia's political direction, either. It is a country that believes that the government has the legitimate authority to disarm the population. In other words...they don't believe in individual soveriegnty.

July 01 2010 at 10:07 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Scott's comment
siefertma74

Ignoring the complete non sequitur of bringing up the issue of gun ownership into a discussion about the religiosity of political leaders, wouldn't "individual soveriegnty [sic]" also include the ability for the indiviudal NOT to believe in a deity/deities, or does "freedom" only apply to theists (particularly Christians)?

July 01 2010 at 9:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thomcit

Enough already !! So much death and violence in the name of Religion. Forget the "Holy Wars", "The Crusades", the "Inquisitions" and other atrocities committed in the name of Religion. Learning about America's long history of religious intolerance is enough to keep anyone busy. It began long before we became a nation. Puritanical "Christians" conducted their "witch trials". The lucky "heretics" were "waterboarded" until they admitted their sins or were drowned (whichever came first). Others were simply burned at the stake. Christians slaughtered Mormons. Widespread Anti-Semitism was rampant in the 20's and 30's. Evangelical Christians were the most rabid Anti-Semites. Now, it's become politically advantageous for Evangelical Preachers to refer to Jews as "the chosen ones". Catholics were targeted by the KKK. Protestants berated Catholics (some still do). Muslims are the latest target. The same Evangelical Christians who once berated the Jews are now doing the same thing to Muslims.
And yes, many of those religions are or have been guilty of the very same thing. If there is a God, I doubt he would approve of the hate and violence that has been committed in his name.

July 01 2010 at 12:47 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
Benz350

Very interesting. I commend her for being honest. I have always had reservations aout being broought Catholic with a lot of hocus pocus.After reading about so caled miracles and appearances.With new technology today how come we have not had any mysterious appearances since 1917 at Fatima if it happened at all..Well today with cameras and other high technology it would be recorded and could be verified, approved or disproved.With high technology available no more appearances by anyone.hey have stopped.I find that people that need religion,need a crutch to lean on and need people to tell them how to live.And let's not forget the priests and ministers on TV. They make millions every week. They are all charlatans.

July 01 2010 at 12:41 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Eileen Regan

The problem is, "what god doesn't she believe in"? It would be far more proper to say she doesn't believe in gods, as there are so many different ones to choose from all thru history. Congratulations to Australia for allowing freedom of thought, expresson and deed. Maybe America will catch up some day.

June 30 2010 at 11:43 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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