New British political leader doesn’t believe in God.

The Liberal Democrats, who are a left-wing party in the United Kingdom and rank third after the Conservatives and incumbent Labour Party, have elected a new leader named Nick Clegg. And, in a radio interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, he said that he didn’t believe in God:

New Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has answered “no” when asked on BBC radio if he believed in God.

The rapid-fire question and answer format on 5 Live meant the 40-year-old did not have the chance to elaborate.

He later said he had “enormous respect for people who have religious faith”, that his wife is Catholic and that his children are being brought up Catholic.

“However, I myself am not an active believer, but the last thing I would do when talking or thinking about religion is approach it with a closed heart or a closed mind.”

Both the current Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and the previous PM Tony Blair are Christian but they have said little about how their religion affects their roles as leader. Based on my personal knowledge it is rare for a politician to be an outspoken non-believer, especially a leader of a party, though some politicians are outspoken about their beliefs. There are a number of non-Christian members of parliament, including Jews, Muslims and Hindus.

11 thoughts on “New British political leader doesn’t believe in God.

  1. I’m having problems finding the problem. Perhaps you can help. Maybe I’m just conditioned to look for problems rather than accepting things at face value.

  2. I don’t think Neil was stating there was a problem, but rather reporting.

    On another note, I think it’s great that a government might actually have secularist. It’s about time we followed suit!!

  3. Religeon just isn’t something that rears its head in relation to politicians private lives (unless the tabloids get hold of a ‘homophobe has gay sex’ scandal).  In fact there are MP’s, even cabinet ministers who are/have been openly gay.

    I missed that particular bit, but caught Dr Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury, and head of the Anglican church) on Simon Mayo.  Interestingly he was critical of the the way that in the US you have to be public about having faith to get on in politics.  He obviously didn’t like the ‘evangelicalising’ of the Right in America.  He was perfectly comfortable that athiests could be altruistic. 

    Did any body (in the UK) catch the discussion between Williams and someone, a professed atheist, about 3.10?  I was picking The Evil Genius up from school, so only caught a few minutes. Who was it?- at first I thought it was Russel Brand, but Simon Mayo may have refered to him as Ricky, so I’m wondering if it was Ricky Gervaise- I’ve got it stuck in my mind it was a comedian. Whoever it was there was a perfectly civil discussion.

  4. A vote for the lib dems is a protest vote – you throw your vote away on something you know is never going to get into power just to put pressure on both labour and the conservatives

    The stakes are not so high for a 3rd party – I think they can afford to be different a little bit more, so will tolerate open atheism more

  5. you throw your vote away on something you know is never going to get into power

    Partly true.  Lib Dem Voters are more ‘tactically aware’ than voters for the other two parties, and on a number of occasions have switched to oust a Tory.  Labour voters don’t seem to get this, and are less likely to switch, even where Tories and Lib Dems are close and Labour has no chance, though LD is closer to Labour than the Tories.

    In addition to this the press favour the big two.

    Interstingly the number of people who would vote LD goes up in polls when asked would they vote LD if there was a realistic chance of them getting in.  In ‘83 the Tories (on the back of the Falkland’s Effect) got 40% of the vote, Labour and Liberals each got 30%, yet Labour got 10 times as many seats.  It’s an effect of First Past the Post.  Twice since the war the majority party didn’t receive the most votes.  I think it happened once in the US presidential election, but I don’t know when.

    so will tolerate open atheism more

    Religeon isn’t a thing in British politics for most people, in fact if you listen to Dr Williams (quick, I think it will go at 1pm GMT 20/12/07 when the next Simon Mayo show starts) at about 9:15 he explicitly states the failings of the US system. One of the worlds highest religeous office holders distrusts religeon in politics.

    (While on the Simon Mayo show, it’s always worth a listen.  He has had Richard Dawkins on, as well as sub-atomic physicists discussing string theory- all this on a ‘news and sport’ station.  I particully like the film reviews with Mark Kermode- aka ‘the Good Doctor’, frequently caustic, often argumentative, always entertaining as the argue the relative merits of subjects only tangentally connected to the week’s releases.  Wittertainment at it’s most wittertaining.)

  6. In some ways I’d like it if political parties weren’t allowed – or at least government could consist of a mixture of people from different parties in different roles. There may be some clash of interests, but politics would be less of a package deal perhaps.

  7. In response to Yawn, the whole point was that a major politician can feel that they can be honest about their atheism and that they wouldn’t expect that to seriously harm their political prospects, unlike some that use religion as a major campaigning tool.

    A vote for the Liberal Democrats isn’t a wasted vote – though they rank third they do have some say in what goes on at Westminster (through all-party groups and parliamentary discussions) as they have a number of MPs, and they control several local councils in the UK. They may not be government, and, let’s be fair, are unlikely to be in government any time in the foreseeable future, but they’re not a lame duck party either. And having 3 major political parties makes it just that bit more interesting, no?

  8. I can see it does make it more interesting, and strategic. I hadn’t taken the local level into account where they are a serious competitor – but I wonder how much of the population really votes more for someone because they want them as the local MP, rather than because they want a certain national party

  9. There may be some really good reason that this is a terrible idea, but surely a good solution to the problems in america (largely sum-uppable with the phrase ‘the religious right’) is to form an American, secular (not necessarily atheist, more focussing upon the irrelevance of religion to the political scene) party slightly to the left of the Democrats. In a small, and hopefully steadily increasing, way it could pull american politics to the right.
    Of course, by the time it got set up America will probably have invaded Iran (personal view from what little I know about the situation around Iran, I Really hope I’m wrong), so there will be a pretty major war going on, which will probably cause America to go right wing all over again!

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