Tag: Hugh Cecil

Churchill’s Religion: “Optimistic Agnostic”

Churchill’s Religion: “Optimistic Agnostic”

Although he had some very reli­gious friends, like Lord Hugh Cecil, Win­ston Churchill was not a reli­gious man. Intro­duced to reli­gious diver­si­ty ear­ly, he was brought up “High Church,” but had a nan­ny “who enjoyed a very Low Church form of piety.” When in rebel­lious mood he would tell Nan­ny Ever­est “the worst thing that he could think of…that he would go out and ‘wor­ship idols.’”

After his self-edu­ca­tion as a young offi­cer in India, when he read all the pop­u­lar chal­lenges to ortho­dox reli­gion, like Charles Darwin’s The Ori­gin of Species and William Win­wood Reade’s The Mar­tyr­dom of Man, Churchill evolved into what we might term an “opti­mistic agnos­tic.” He spoke joc­u­lar­ly of the Almighty, sug­gest­ing that as a boy,

I accumulated…so fine a sur­plus in the Bank of Obser­vance that I have been draw­ing con­fi­dent­ly upon it ever since.…

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