Conservative Party leader David Cameron has said that he has faith in God and that the Church of England and other churches “play a very important role in society”.
However, Mr Cameron clarified that his faith “grows hotter and colder by moments”, that he does not feel he has a “direct line” to God, and that he does not drop to his knees and pray for guidance.
He also said he believes it is “perfectly possible” to live a good life without having faith, though he added that the teachings of Jesus and of other religions are “a good guide to help us through”.
He made his comments during an interview with Geordie Greig of the London Evening Standard newspaper.
Besides discussing religious faith, Mr Cameron also talked about policy and party issues and his care for his family.
When asked if faith in God was important to him, Mr Cameron replied: “If you are asking, do I drop to my knees and pray for guidance, no.
“But do I have faith and is it important, yes. My own faith is there, it’s not always the rock that perhaps it should be.
“I’ve a sort of fairly classic Church of England faith, a faith that grows hotter and colder by moments,” he continued.
“I do think that organised religion can get things wrong but the Church of England and the other churches do play a very important role in society.”
Mr Cameron was confirmed at 18 years old and attends an Anglican church in Kensington.
He told his interviewer: “I was a good, sceptical, questioning Christian when I was younger.
“I liked to think it through, thinking am I really sure about this? But I don’t feel I have a direct line [to God].”
Mr Cameron added: “I think that it’s perfectly possible to live a good life without having faith, by which I mean a positive and altruistic life, but I think the teachings of Jesus just as the teachings of other religions are a good guide to help us through.
“Do unto others as you would have them do to you; don’t walk on by. These are good and thoughtful ideas to bring to life.”
Media commentators have been quick to analyse Mr Cameron’s comments, particularly in comparison with statements made in the past by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The Times religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill described Mr Cameron as doing God in a “fuzzy, sort-of-Anglican” way.
Theo Hobson of The Spectator said Mr Cameron’s words sounded like “an attempt at having it both ways: I’m a believer, but just a gentle agnostic one”.
He summarised Mr Cameron’s position on religion as “determined to seem pro-God but not in a way that will cost him votes”.
When he stepped down as Prime Minister Mr Blair said he had chosen not to talk about his religious beliefs while in office for fear of being labelled “a nutter”.
Since then he has publicly embraced the Roman Catholic faith, the same faith as his wife.