Ed Miliband doesn't believe in God, but does have 'faith' and says Britain is a Christian country


Ed Miliband has described his Jewish faith as "part of who I am" despite being an atheist.

The Labour leader, whose Jewish parents fled Nazi persecution, said in an interview in the Daily Mail that he hoped to become the "first Jewish prime minister" after the next General Election.

Faith has been in the headlines in the last week after David Cameron referred to Jesus as "our saviour" at an Easter reception with church leaders at 10 Downing Street.

"I've always felt the strength of the Christian faith is the basic core of moral guidance," the Prime Minister said. "You can find moral guidance from other sources but it's not a bad handbook."

Although Tony Blair was a practising Anglican-turned-Catholic, the previous Labour government distanced itself from open proclamations of faith - Alastair Campbell's "We don't do God" remark has gone down in history.

Mr Miliband took a different tune, however, saying Britain was a "Christian country" and speaking openly about where he stands on the issue personally.

He said: "I have a particular faith. I describe myself as a Jewish atheist. I'm Jewish by birth origin and it's a part of who I am.

"I don't believe in God, but I think faith is a really, really important thing to a lot of people. It provides nourishment for lots of people."

He also spoke favourably of the Church of England, saying Britain was "really lucky" to have it as the established Church.

"It is a great institution in terms of what it does in our society, not just spiritual faith and nourishment that it gives to lots of people, but also the good work it does in communities."

Mr Miliband commended faith schools for the "incredible job" they are doing, and spoke of faith in general as having "an important place in society".

David Cameron addresses the room of Christian leaders in his Downing Street office last night.(Photo: 10 Downing Street)

David Cameron is the only one of the three main party leaders to profess a faith. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has previously said he is atheist, although his sons are raised Catholic - the faith of his wife Miriam. 

Mr Cameron's relationship with the Church has been terse at times over gay marriage and the freedom of Christians to express their faith.

In his speech at the Easter reception he spoke of the need to stand up for persecuted Christians and even claimed that his Big Society initiative was Jesus's idea.

Some Christians have been sceptical about the Big Society, seeing it as nothing more than an attempt to plug up gaps left by government spending cuts with cost-free church volunteerism.  

Commentators on this publication's Facebook page questioned the sincerity of Mr Cameron's personal professions of faith.

Facebook user Paul Corrigan commented: "Does this include increasing isolation of religious groups in the public arena? forgive me if I take whatever my esteemed Prime Minister says with lashings of salt."

Another, Caren Weaver, wrote: "Hope he supports the persecuted church in this country too."