Queen: Atheists Can Be Good, Too! November 25, 2010

Queen: Atheists Can Be Good, Too!

The Queen of England, head of the Anglican Church, made news yesterday for comments that were really very obvious to anyone who gives it the least bit of thought:

Speaking at Church House, central London, she told members of General Synod that believers and atheists were equally able to contribute to the prosperity and wellbeing of the country.

The Queen, who is supreme governor of the Church of England, said: “In our more diverse and secular society, the place of religion has come to be a matter of lively discussion. It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue and that the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation depend on the contribution of individuals and groups of all faiths and none.

Well, yes. That’s true. That shouldn’t be news (“Guess what?! Atheists can be moral people! Amazing!”) but I suppose it’s positive publicity and we should take that however we can.

It’s like pulling teeth for an American politician to say anything close to that.

(Thanks to Claudia for the link!)


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  • Eddie

    Awww, Well done to our Queenie…I’m still a republican (meaning for presidency not the US political party) though.

    Not to mention it would be so easy to remove her title as Head of Church of England. If anyone pushed a vote or something very few would object.

  • rbray18

    bill O’Riley condemning the queen in 5 4 3 2…

  • Steve Zara

    Quite different from what the Pope said, which is interesting.

  • AM

    Could this possibly have anything to do with the Pope and his recent visit? A man who protects his pedophile employees while publicly slamming subjects of the queen of a country who is still condemned for separating from the Catholic Church.

    The Queen has no political voice, but I doubt she tolerates heads of state openly insulting her subjects regardless of what they do or don’t believe.

  • Yay for the Queen

    But WHEN will Australia become a republic? :\

  • Richard Wade

    As late and obvious as it is to us, let’s reinforce it and reconfirm it by accepting her remarks graciously rather than resentfully.

    Contrast her statement to Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini’s outrageous demagogic attack on atheists and secularists at the end of October, published in the official Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, calling for Christians, Jews and Muslims to unite against us in what amounts to a war.

    We need allies and windfalls and acknowledgments of our humanity regardless of how overdue and plain-as-day they may be.

  • That’s a smart royal lady. She should go up against the Pope in a public debate.

  • Steve

    Fair play to the Queen, I’m no Royalist, the hangers on bleed this country dry but she has a job to do and she does it well.

  • Bob

    Fiona – about 10 seconds after Charles becomes King. 🙂

  • For some reason this really warms my heart. I guess I’m not used to hearing such things from little old ladies. My grandmother scolded me for posting a letter to the editor saying that atheists aren’t Nazis so…

  • Stagamancer

    @Richard Wade: I agree completely that we should accept her remarks graciously.

    Her statement is not important because it’s a new thought, it’s important because a) very few heads of state (whether functionally or in name) are saying things like this, and B) very few heads of religion (whether functionally or in name) are saying anything like this either.

    This is especially pertinent when certain prominent British politicians (such as a former prime minister) are saying things like

    “We face an aggressive secular attack from without. We face the threat of extremism from within.”

    and

    “Those who scorn God and those who do violence in God’s name, both represent views of religion. But both offer no hope for faith in the twenty first century.”

  • Claudia

    Huh, so there’s more than one Claudia here, it would appear lol.

    I’ll admit I’m half heartened, but half saddened that it would even be news that someone in authority would say something as crushingly obvious as that.

  • MaryD

    Could this be Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland that you are talking about?

    I wonder what the president of Washington, D.C. has to say about it?

  • I wonder what the president of Washington, D.C. has to say about it?

    Obama’s been very inclusive of atheists, too. He’s mentioned us in several different speeches.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    This sanity in the Family is good.

  • steve

    “bill O’Riley condemning the queen in 5 4 3 2…”

    Actually, not too long ago O’Reilly made a similar statement, saying that atheists are not immoral.

    And this is definitely important– statements like these (while obvious) need to be made before we can hope to get any further in our efforts to end prejudice against nonbelievers.

  • Daniel

    Remember that she’s the boss of the Anglican church but might be an atheist herself. She inherited the job, she can’t really give the job to someone else, and like a good royal family member, is used to doing things just to keep up appearances.

    Maybe this was her letting slip that she’s an atheist, too.

  • Rieux

    Nice sentiments; good for the Queen.

    [N]o matter how silly the idea of having a queen might be to us, as Americans we must be gracious and considerate hosts.

    – Los Angeles Police Squad Lieutenant Frank Drebin

  • Erp

    Note also where she said it, to the general synod of the Church of England (effectively the legislative body of the church). A body that has been dragging its feet on quite a few progressive issues (e.g., allowing women to be bishop, gays/lesbians in positions of power). However remember that though the queen has no effective power over the church, her speech may well have been vetted beforehand by the powers that be (in this case the Archbishop of Canterbury and possibly the Prime Minister [this is the established church]).

  • Sarah

    My English husband’s response: “Yeah, she doesn’t have to worry about elections. Let’s hear a prime minister say that.”

  • Sarah, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister is an atheist (even though he’s not been outspoken about that since getting into power). Atheism isn’t a big deal in England. You can hold whatever religious opinions you desire as long as you’re not a nutter about them (like Blair).

    I think that Queen Liz is having a bit of a pop at the Pope for being such an offensive dick head when he visited England and Scotland earlier in the year. She’s also reminding some of the more extreme members of the Anglican church, like the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, that we live in a secular society. The church needs to find a place in secular society if it is going to survive. Not the other way round.

  • Christophe Thill

    The Queen likes us ! God save the Queen !

  • Tim

    “It’s like pulling teeth for an American politician to say anything close to that.”

    Very true…American politicians are hard-pressed to even admit atheists exist, unless it serves their purposes of disparaging us.

  • Rufus

    Fiona – it’ll probably be whenever someone works out a way that it won’t be another *”!*@** politician who needs to draw a huge salary for largely looking decorative. It’s far cheaper to timeshare our (the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, Belize, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Canada, the Solomon Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Antigua & Barbuda, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, the Cook Islands and Niue) collective head of state.

    Bob – You’re assuming that Charles (who, aside from being a bit prone to the odd case of foot-in-mouth disease, does at least try) will ever become king, aside from the whole no-no about marrying a divorcee (see Edward VIII), I’m not sure he wants the job. He’s far happier looking after his charities (i.e. The Prince’s Trust) and puttering around on his small farm. That and William is far more photogenic (and popular).

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I thought maybe Freddie Mercury had come back from the dead and had something to say about religion.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    How fair is it to compare the queen to politicians? What office has she ever run for?

  • And to think I’ve been glad for the few scraps Obama has thrown our way (still am, it’s unusual for inclusion from a politician in America). This is wonderful no matter why she said them! Cudos to her. Though I rather do hope hoverfrog is right and she’s both taking a pop at the pope and those who are complaining about England having such a secular society.

  • Kayla

    President Obama acknowledged atheists in his inaugural speech.

  • Carlie

    Actually, not too long ago O’Reilly made a similar statement, saying that atheists are not immoral.

    Bill is an ass, but he’s not stupid. I think he’s seen that the extremist views are getting more and more violent, and wants to dial back from that and distance himself from it (even though he helped start it in the first place).

  • Bob

    Rufus, I can’t say I share your optimism (?) on Prince Charles. His family is nothing if not traditional and they will not buck the tradition of succession. Besides it will give Charles an even bigger platform to air his “goofy” views on such things are architecture, organic foods and other things vital to our civilization. (sarcasm).

    My view is that Britian will put up with it, but those countries on the fringe, such as Australia, Canada and others, may find this a “bridge too far” in terms of being able to justify its on-going existence.

    The present Queen has done too good a job of representing her position well, (despite her childrens best efforts) and bridging an incredible gap between the 50’s and today.

    However, after her death I think that many of the commonwealth countries, especially the largest, most confident, members, will take the opportunity to move into the 21st Century in terms of governance. Though I do agree with your perspective of coming up with an alternative that doesn’t aggrandize some politician.