Secular victory: Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s new prime minister, was sworn into office without the Bible, and without reference to God.
Arden, New Zealand’s 40th prime minister, was sworn into office on Thursday. At 37-years-old, Ardern is the nation’s youngest leader in more than 150 years. She is also the nation’s third female prime minister, and the youngest woman to lead the country.
The oath of office usually contains the phrase “so help me God.” However, Arden did not reference God when she took the oath of office, nor was a Bible present during the ceremony.
Arden is a self-described agnostic who left the Mormon church after she realized she could not support justice and equality for LGBT people and remain a Mormon. She officially left the church in her early 20’s.
Discussing her movement away from religion, Arden told the New Zealand Herald:
For a lot of years, I put it to the back of my mind. I think it was too unsettling. If something like religion is part of your foundation, and then suddenly you start questioning that — it’s quite a confronting thing to deal with.
Arden went on to note that she has no problem with religious people, but she does take offense when people are abused by religion:
I have a real respect for people who have religion as a foundation in their lives. And I respect people who don’t. I’m agnostic. I don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure it out. I just think people should be free to have their personal beliefs and not be persecuted for it, whether they be atheist or staunch church members.I do draw a line if people are being taken advantage of – for instance, the tithes in some churches. I feel very strongly about that.
Families who cut off people for leaving (religion) – that’s just awful.
After being sworn in as New Zealand’s prime minister the optimistic and youthful leader met supporters outside, telling the approving crowd:
I want to start by saying it is an enormous privilege and an honor to stand with these wonderful people here in front of you today, in front of your house with your government. I want to put emphasis on the word ‘your’ government.
Bottom line: Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s new prime minister, is an agnostic who was sworn into office without reference to God, or the Bible.
Watch the ceremony below: