Whereas the religious commitments of American presidents rarely go unnoticed, comparatively little attention has been paid to the faith (or lack thereof) of the prime ministers of Great Britain. Mark Vickers seeks to change that in his recent book God in Number 10. Calling the book, “well-researched, well-written, and unflaggingly lively,” Edward Short writes in his review:
Arthur Balfour presents a good case study of a prime minister who desperately wished to believe but somehow could never swing it. Vickers quotes Caroline Jebb, the American wife of the Cambridge don, who saw only “sadness” in the prime minister’s faith—arising, as she said, “from the fact that the spirit of the age prevents him, a naturally religious man, from being religious except on the humanitarian side.”
Churchill . . . was also plagued with skepticism, though Vickers reveals what few may know: that the question that most consumed Churchill in his old age was whether there was any truth to the Christian faith.
For Vickers, not even a practical atheist is an uncomplicated atheist. As for Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, Vickers treats both as sui generis, the one subscribing to an evangelicalism without charismatic fervor and the other subscribing to a Catholicism without any adherence to the Roman Church’s more controversial moral teachings.