Australia Going to Hell
When Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female prime minister last week she quickly earned international headlines (and a congratulatory call from President Obama). Being a woman was the easy part. Gillard overcame an obstacle far more troublesome 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 directly 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.”
Acccording to archived news reports, 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 leader is known for her directness and sharpness of mind. “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.”
As the reports noted, it’s hard to imagine any U.S. politician saying such a thing about religion, or being so straightforward about most anything. Our professional representatives can’t afford this kind of candor. Polls consistently show that even as Americans grow increasingly comfortable with voting for women, racial or religious minorities, or a homosexual, they’re unlikely 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. We live in a country where “In God We Trust” is stamped on all our money and the Ten Commandments adorn many courthouses and legislative buildings. Peoplle like Julia Gillard — and there are many of them — must embrace their convictions in silence or disingenuousness.
Meanwhile we conduct distinctly un-Christian wars in faraway dusty lands, and we argue vociferously over supplying medical care to all our fellow citizens, including the heathens. Perhaps the non-believers wouldn’t be so mistrustful of the faithful if those true believers behaved more like their savior and less like people intent on proving that their God doesn’t exist.