Boris Johnson dodges the “Catholic question”, denounces the atheist Keith Starmer as “a fool”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – recently married to his longtime girlfriend Carrie Symonds in a Catholic ceremony – dodged a reporter’s question about his religion.
At the same time, he called Labor Party rival Keith Starmer, an atheist, a “fool” for not believing in God.
Asked by ITV political editor Robert Peston whether Mr Johnson was now “a practicing Catholic”, the British leader replied: “I am not discussing these deep issues. Certainly not with you.
Mr Peston, who wrote in a later article on the ITV website that he is Jewish, said he “was struggling to make sense of the Prime Minister’s answer to my question. … It was the “certainly not with you” that surprised me. “
The issue has surfaced in light of Mr Johnson’s Catholic wedding ceremony and his takeover of a nation with centuries of anti-Catholicism steeped in its history.
Apparently Mr Johnson’s two previous marriages were ruled invalid by the church, and he and Ms Symonds, a Catholic who had never been married, were therefore free to marry under church law .
As Mr Johnson dodged the question of his own beliefs, he seemed happy to confront Mr Starmer, the leader of the Labor Party who told the Sunday Times Magazine in April: ‘I am not of faith, I do not believe. in [G]od, but I can see the power of faith and the way it brings people together.
When Mr Peston asked Mr Johnson about Mr Starmer’s statement, the Prime Minister chuckled and responded by quoting Psalm 14: 1.
“The fool has said in his heart that there is no God,” wrote the psalmist.
While President Biden is hailed in many circles as the second Roman Catholic chief executive of the United States – he was pictured with his late son Beau’s Rosary and attended a Catholic mass at the recent G7 summit in Cornwall, England – The religious affiliation of the British Prime Minister is an issue fraught with centuries of animosity.
Since Henry VIII rebelled against Rome over cancellations and remarriage, every British prime minister has been, at least publicly, a Protestant.
Benjamin Disraeli, born into a Jewish family in 1804, became Anglican at the age of 12. Winston Churchill was nominally Anglican, some biographers say. And Margaret Thatcher, the daughter of a lay Methodist preacher, questioned the existence of angels, claiming that it would take a six-foot breastbone to support her wings.
What no Prime Minister has been, at least during his tenure, is a Roman Catholic, a model that mirrors British laws regarding the monarchy.
The Establishment Act of 1701 prevented Catholics from inheriting the throne, and the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 even disqualified a person married to a Catholic from the line of succession. This last restriction was repealed in 2013.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair converted to Catholicism after leaving office. Mr. Johnson was baptized Catholic but later became Anglican. Britain’s Catholic Herald newspaper said the church would still consider Mr Johnson to be a Catholic.