Conservative Member of Parliament Comes Out as Atheist After 28 Years in Office

James Arbuthnot, Image: Friendly Atheist
James Arbuthnot, a Conservative Member of Parliament, was debating against a bill that would allow prayers at council meetings when he revealed a secret:

By Hemant Mehta|Friendly Atheist

During a Commons debate on a bill which would allow prayers at the start of council meetings, Mr Arbuthnot — a former minister — told MPs he was brought up in a Christian household, having been christened and confirmed.

“But since then I have lost those beliefs and faith that I once had and I am perfectly comfortable with that. But this is the first time I have ever actually acknowledged that in public,” he said.

“And it may be true that the pressure on a Conservative politician, particularly of keeping quiet about not being religious, is very similar to the pressure that there has been about keeping quiet about being gay.”

“For the avoidance of doubt,” he added, “I am not gay either but I just wanted to say that it is telling that it has taken me 28 years in this House, and frankly in the knowledge that I won’t be standing in the next election, to make this point.”

Good for him. I know little about his politics, but his story is all too familiar. In the U.S., too, there are undoubtedly a number of politicians who are atheists, but who know it would be political suicide to admit it. Even Rep. Barney Frank, a liberal in so many ways, waited until he was out of office before saying he didn’t believe in God.

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