An outgoing Tory MP 'came out' as atheist today, as he claimed that Conservative MPs were under pressure to pretend to believe in God.
James Arbuthnot, who represents North East Hampshire, said he only now felt comfortable talking about his lack of faith because he is standing down at the next election. He said the need to appear religious was equivalent to the pressure to "keep quiet about being gay".
Mr Arbuthnot was speaking during a Commons debate on a private members bill which calls for prayers to be read at the start of council meetings.
His objection was not just based on a lack of belief. Mr Arbuthnot also warned that changing the law could lead to local councillors praying to Satan, as they would not be able to discriminate against different religions under the legislation.
"The fact that the effect of the public sector equality duty on this bill is at local authority’s choosing to hold religious observance in their meetings will not then be able lawfully to discriminate against the observances of the religion of Satanism," he said.