Actress Cloris Leachman is an Atheist June 21, 2012

Actress Cloris Leachman is an Atheist

In an interview with Debra Ollivier of the Huffington Post, actress Cloris Leachman identified unmistakably as an atheist:

Cloris Leachman

Well, when I was six years old I heard that God was watching me, and I thought, “No, no, no, we’re not going to have any of that.” And then for many, many years I thought that God would get even with me or punish me because I didn’t believe in him, or her, or them. And nothing ever happened except for good things. So I don’t believe at all in God and I’m very relieved that I don’t.

So you would you consider yourself an atheist?


Leachman, as a senior citizen, represents a very underrepresented group of atheists so this is a welcome admission. As a celebrity, we know her statements tend to carry more weight with the general public, so maybe it’ll propel those who have been fans of hers since The Mary Tyler Moore Show (or at least Comedy Central’s Roast of Bob Saget) to come out as well.

Later in the interview, Leachman took a stab at those who say that God is the only acceptable answer to all of the unexplainable things that happen in people’s lives:

So whatever your religious convictions — or lack thereof — you’ve lived a sort of blessed life.

There’s something extraordinary that we’ll never understand, it’s just beyond anybody. Extraordinary miracles, billions and trillions of them, happen all the time but not because there’s a God.

So where do all the millions of miracles come from?

Is the answer God? It’s beyond belief. There are 7 billion people on the planet. Is He hearing 7 billion people at once?

That’s a good question. I don’t have an answer, but I don’t believe that there’s nothing out there.

I didn’t say there’s nothing out there, but there certainly isn’t any God. The stuff that’s made up about Jesus — that you have to go through Jesus to get to God and if you’re lucky, after you die, if you’ve done everything right, the reward is you get to sit on the right hand side of God. All that is made up by men. People made it up.

Having such an adamant female figure behind those words is powerful for anyone who is struggling with their disbelief. In the interview, Leachman also discussed growing up the daughter of an Episcopalian minister, so she has come to these conclusions after being immersed in a “fire and brimstone” culture. She is an incredible example of moving past painful or scary church experiences to see those who use fear as a motivator for what they really are: liars.

Thanks to Cloris for coming out so strongly and being a source of inspiration for those in her demographic who may be struggling to find solidarity among their peers.

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Travis

    Wonderful news, I really like her. Slowly but surely, superstition is on its way out.

  • “this is a welcome admission”

    Admission? Really?

  • Tainda

    She’s funny, of course she’s an atheist lol

  • TiltedHorizon

    Loved her in Beerfest (yes, movies like this are a guilty pleasure)

  • could she be a potential speaker at any upcoming freethinker events???

  •  Or a billboard persona???

  • IME, Episcopalian is hardly ‘fire and brimstone’.  The ‘fire and brimstone’ preachers would no doubt cast an Anglican priest as ‘lukewarm’, at best.  And it was her maternal grandmother’s father, not her father.   But still a good public statement from her.

  • Conspirator

    Wow, she put this out there without any doubt, wasn’t even apologetic about it.  Neil deGrasse Tyson could learn a thing or two from her.  

  •  Shamefully – I own that movie . . .

  • Nena

    Yes, this please! 😀

  • Nena

    I have always loved her. Now that is intensified!

    It would be amazing to have her speak at an event.

  • Always loved her, but had never seen the Saget roast because, well you know, Saget.  She’s brilliant.   Good to see her coming out.

    Gotta agree with Ewan though, admission is not the best choice of words for her statement.  

  • valleycat1

    As an atheist who grew up as an Episcopalian, I agree with Charles.  I would never equate  ‘fire and brimstone’ with the Episcopal church.  It’s more about bowing down to the glory of god.  From the catechism:  Question 19:
    What is our duty to God?
    Answer 19:
    Our duty is to believe and trust in God; To love and obey God and to bring others to know him; To put nothing in the place of God; To show God respect in thought, word, and deed; And to set aside regular times for worship, prayer, and the study of God’s ways.

  • Oh yeah! That’s right! We’ve got Frau Blucher! (neighhhhhhhhhhh)

  •  YES!

  • Phil Bellerive

    Don’t forget Nurse Diesel.

  • Derek6040

    This makes me love Cloris even more…if that’s even possible! Good for Cloris! Good for us!

  • Miss_Beara

    Stay close to the candles. The stairway can be… treacherous.

  • GeraardSpergen

    And she’s from IOWA!  (Hawkeye solidarity fist bump)

    I think I’ve heard her promoting woo-woo thinking about other subjects though so I’m not convinced she’s the perfect spokesperson but high-profile is always good.

  • T-Rex

    Question 19? WTF is that? Did they steal “20 questions” for their own purpose? Is it animal, vegetable or mineral? The answer makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

  • T-Rex

    “She has the eye of the Jew”!

  • “Really?” she’s not admitting something?  Or “Really?” it’s not welcome?

  • Trickster Goddess

     “put nothing in the place of God”

    I think every atheist already does that.

  • Greg_Peterson

    This delights me.  Just a few nights ago I watched a new DVD release in which she starsm “The Fields,”  and wrote this review for

    The list of great things in this movie is substantial. Everything from the locations and music to camera angles and lighting is superb for a modest-budget film (or genre film, really). And the acting is top-notch. Cloris Leachman is amazing and it’s no exaggeration to say that in a different kind of movie, an Oscar nomination for supporting actress would not be out of the question…Having [written some criticism of the film as a whole]: MORE LEACHMAN! Betty White gets all of the old lady parts. No fair–the 86-year-old Leachman can not only match White’s comedic talents, but she clearly has superior dramatic chops (White’s cameo in Lake Placid was fun, but she played essentially the same person she always does–whereas Leachman is a revelation in “Fields”).

  • Adam Casto

    I loved her in “Malcom in the Middle” as Ida 🙂

    Francis: You don’t like Christmas music? 
    Grandma Ida: It sounds like the song they sang when they would run through the villages and throw the babies into the fire.  
    Francis: They sang Jingle Bells?  
    Grandma Ida: They sang something.

  • “OMG” (not literally of course) 😀  I always loved her, especially a lot of the current work she has been doing in comedy, this just makes it even better!

  • Blanc_Slate

    Wow, I never would’ve guessed.

  •  You only ‘admit’ something bad – if I said “I admit it, I am in fact completely awesome” it sounds daft, right? An admission would be something like “I admit it, I ate the last cookie.”

  • pagansister

    YEA! Cloris!  Knew there was more than one reason I admired her!

  • Chak 47

     Did you never have to learn a catechism?  Lucky you. 

  • Robster

    Can I ask, is a catechism some sort of fabulous feline? Or perhaps a boat with two hulls, or maybe a big bulldozer? Sounds cool but obviously isn’t.

  • Chak 47

     Not cool at all.  Basically it’s a list of questions and answers that are supposed to be memorized and parroted back on demand, spelling out doctrine for those too stupid or too young to get what the priest/preacher is talking about.  The kids who didn’t go to Catholic school had to go to catechism classes.

  • Gus Snarp

    Much better than Jesse Ventura.

  •  Nonsense. Masturbation is not bad, but many people would have a hard time admitting to it in public, let alone a widely distributed public interview.

    The ‘admission’ she’s making is that she goes against a taboo in US culture. Taboos are seen as ‘bad’ by many, but they are not necessarily bad.

  • I already loved this lady. Now I love her even more.

error: Content is protected !!