Australia's new Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she does not believe in God. Although raised as a Baptist, she said she now considers herself an atheist.
Gillard said she will not go through "religious rituals" for the sake of appearances.
"'I am, of course, a great respecter of religious beliefs, but they are not my beliefs," she told ABC Radio in Melbourne. "For people of faith, I think the greatest compliment I could pay them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretence about mine.
The Australian Christian Lobby has warned Gillard, the nation's first female prime minister, that she may have turned off some of her Christian voters with her comments.
Her views are different from the views of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who attended Canberra church services, and opposition leader Tony Abbot, who is Catholic.
*The London Daily Mail contributed to this story.