Boris Johnson quotes the Bible when asked if he believes in God

‘The foolish man has said in his heart there is no God’

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks with ITV News' politics editor Robert Peston in an interview in Cornwall, England, on June 12, 2021.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks with ITV News' politics editor Robert Peston in an interview in Cornwall, England, on June 12, 2021. | ITV News

Responding to the question of whether he is now a practicing Roman Catholic, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who recently got married in Westminster Cathedral, quoted from the Psalms while speaking to a reporter during the G7 summit in England.

When ITV’s Robert Peston asked the question, Johnson initially sought not to respond by saying, “I don’t discuss these deep issues, certainly not with you.”

The reporter then told Johnson that Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer had said he does not believe in God. The prime minister then quoted Psalm 14: “The foolish man has said in his heart there is no God.”

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While the prime minister was baptized a Catholic, he twice married as an Anglican before his third marriage with Carrie Symonds.

The question of his faith as Britain’s first Catholic prime minister (while in office) became a serious issue last week because, as a Catholic, Johnson can no longer send the names of Church of England bishops to Queen Elizabeth. 

Instead, Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland "will send the names of new Church of England bishops to the queen, after a warning that the prime minister could be banished from office if he keeps doing so himself," The Telegraph reported. 

An unnamed source at No. 10 told the publication that the rule is "incredibly anachronistic" because a Jewish or Muslim prime minister could nominate a bishop but not a Catholic. 

In response to questions about Johnson's Christian faith and conversion to Catholicism, one senior Tory reportedly said the prime minister: “Does not have a religious bone in his body.” 

Johnson’s great-grandfather, Ali Kemal, was a Turkish Muslim journalist and politician who was brutally murdered by a mob that supported Ataturk. He knew England well, and when the British occupied Constantinople for four years at the end of World War I, he collaborated with them, according to The Spectator.

In the BBC series “Who Do Think You Are,” Johnson talked about his great-grandfather having memorized the entire Quran as a young boy. And it was in that interview that Johnson also mentioned that, as a student, he had won a scripture knowledge prize. 

As part of a Bible reading project for the King James Bible Trust, in which a reading of the entire Bible was posted on YouTube, Johnson read from Isaiah Chapter 11. He called the King James version the “single most beautiful and influential work of English literature.”

Johnson, twice-divorced, married Symonds in a private ceremony at Westminster Cathedral on May 29.

Symonds, a 33-year-old political activist and conservationist, is the third wife of Johnson, 56. Johnson and Symonds share a son, Wilfred, who was born in April 2020. 

The secretive ceremony was officiated by a Catholic priest, Father Daniel Humphreys, who baptized the couple’s son last year, Newsweek reported.  

Johnson’s multiple marriages and having children out of wedlock sparked controversy due to the Catholic Church’s stance on such issues and its opposition to divorce. 

The Roman Catholic Church does allow divorcees to remarry if the previous marriages were outside the Roman Catholic Church. Johnson’s former marriages to Allegra Mostyn-Owen and Marina Wheeler were not Catholic ceremonies and thus not recognized by the Catholic Church.

Father Mark Drew, assistant priest at St. Joseph's Church in Penketh, Warrington, told the BBC that he’s had to tell Catholic couples going through a divorce that they cannot remarry in the Catholic Church. 

"It looks to them — rightly or wrongly — as if the Church is applying double standards and I do fear that this decision does make the church look bad,” Drew said.

Christopher Lamb, a correspondent for the Catholic magazine The Tablet, told BBC Radio 5 about how Johnson’s third marriage reflects that there is one law for the rich and powerful and another for everyone else. 

“There will be a feeling that, why are some people who are divorced allowed to be married in the church and others not? And I think that’s where the church can look at its current roles and see how it can become more welcoming. It has been welcoming to Boris Johnson, why not to others?” he asked.

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