Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she has no intention of pretending to believe in God to attract religiously-inclined voters.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was a regular at Canberra church services and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is known as a devout Catholic.
In contrast, Ms Gillard says that while she greatly respects other people’s religious views, she does not believe in God.
Ms Gillard has been quizzed on personal topics including her attitude to religion and her relationship with her partner during interviews this morning.
She says does not go through religious rituals for the sake of appearance.
“I am not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel,” she said.
“I am what I am and people will judge that.
“For people of faith, I think the greatest compliment I could pay to them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretence about mine.”
“I grew up in the Christian church, a Christian background. I won prizes for catechism, for being able to remember Bible verses. I am steeped in that tradition, but I’ve made decisions in my adult life about my own views.
“I’m worried about the national interest. About doing the right thing by Australians. And I’ll allow people to form their own views about whatever is going to drive their views.
“What I can say to Australians broadly of course is I believe you can be a person of strong principle and values from a variety of perspectives.”
Meanwhile Ms Gillard has rejected claims that she is soft on Israel.
Former ambassador to Israel Ross Burns made the accusation in a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Fairfax press reported.
Ms Gillard’s partner Tim Mathieson works for prominent pro-Israel lobbyist Albert Dadon’s real estate company Urbertas Group.
“I’ve seen that letter to the newspapers, that’s not right,” Ms Gillard said today.
“I’ve made up my own views about Israel and made them known publicly well before there was any suggestion that my partner would work in a property group associated with Mr Dadon.”