There’s been a lot of fuss about Boris Johnson, the new prime minister of the United Kingdom — about his politics, his brash and often unorthodox behavior and his rise to power in the U.K. But what does the 55-year-old firebrand think about the Almighty?
Born in 1964 in New York City as Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the newly minted leader of Britain was baptized as a Catholic, but later converted to Anglicanism. Even as a member of the Church of England, though, Johnson said a few years ago it would be “pretentious” to call himself a “serious practicing Christian.”
According to the English media outlet Premier, Johnson hasn’t been nearly as outspoken about his faith as previous prime ministers. His predecessor, Theresa May, is the daughter of a vicar and described her Christian faith as “part of me” and something that “helps to frame” her politics.
Similarly, former Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is “evangelical” about his Christian faith, adding religion can help instill “a moral code” within people. And in 2014, Cameron stood up for persecuted Christians, saying, “It is the case that Christians are now the most persecuted religion around the world. We should stand up against persecution of Christians and other faith groups wherever and whenever we can.”
As for Johnson, he described his faith this way:
I suppose my own faith, you know, it’s like a bit like trying to get Virgin Radio when you’re driving through the Chilterns. It sort of comes and goes. I mean, sometimes the signal is strong, and then sometimes, I’m afraid it just vanishes. And then it comes back again.”
Johnson, who served as mayor of London from 2008 until 2016, went on to describe the fact that Parliament begins every session with prayer as “quite a good thing, whatever [members] may think about the existence or non-existence of God.”
However, while Johnson is the leader of the Conservative party in the U.K., his politics are much more aligned with liberal lawmakers in the U.S. In 2012, Johnson, who has described himself as a “social liberal,” announced his support for same-sex marriage.
“Marriage is an ancient human institution that is far older than any of the religions that are practiced today,” he contended. “It may well be beloved by God, but no religion has ever had a monopoly on marriage.”
He is also supportive — at least in his personal life — of abortion. While he has always abstained from Westminster votes on the issue of life, it has been reported that, back in 2004, his mistress at the time, Petronella Wyatt, underwent an abortion, and he paid the bill. Johnson, a member of Parliament at the time, was fired from the Tory front bench over the extramarital affair.
Outside his relatively nondescript mentions of God and faith, it appears Johnson holds a largely secular view of the world.