Angelina Jolie is an Atheist

Angelina Jolie at the Cannes Film fes...
Angelina Jolie at the Cannes Film festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lists of celebrity atheists abound. I think it makes sense that members of a hated minority group who continue to be subjected to widespread bigotry might be a bit desperate to find "people like us" among the ranks of the rich and famous. It may seem silly to some, but I can tell you that anti-atheist bigotry seems far sillier to many of us! Anyway, I vote for Angelina Jolie to be our celebrity atheist "poster girl." She'd be a great source of unity because anybody who can look at her and not believe that something supernatural created her must be a real atheist.

Of course, as soon as the atheist community embraced a prominent celebrity for describing their lack of belief, Christians must come out of the woodwork to challenge it. I suppose our very existence suggests that they might be wrong, and so the denial kicks in. This seems to be especially important to them when celebrities are involved. You know, because atheism something that someone might emulate because a celebrity does it. If only that was the case!

Not surprisingly, the claim that Jolie is an atheist is not without controversy. One of the more thorough attempts to trace her views on religion was provided by ReligionFacts.

According to ReligionFacts, "Angelina Jolie does not identify herself with any single religion, nor has she declared herself an atheist (contrary to the claims of some atheist websites)." However, they then acknowledge that the most direct statement on the subject was the following response in 2000 to the question, "Is there a God?"

Hmm... For some people. I hope so, for them. For the people who believe in it, I hope so. There doesn't need to be a God for me. There's something in people that's spiritual, that's godlike. I don't feel like doing things just because people say things, but I also don't really know if it's better to just not believe in anything, either.

Here is where it gets interesting. ReligionFacts follows this quote with this statement, "So at least in 2000, Angelina Jolie had no specific religious beliefs, didn't personally feel the need for a God and disliked authority-based religion, but was not willing to go so far as atheism and expressed hope that there might be a God for the sake of those who dedicate their lives to religious belief."

What? First of all, isn't having no specific religious beliefs fairly close to atheism? An atheist is someone without belief in gods. I suppose someone could still believe in gods and discard religion, but that sounds a bit different from what is being described here. I could certainly hope there were gods out there somewhere and still be an atheist. Second, either there is at least one god or there isn't. The idea that there might be an actual god for some people and not others doesn't make any sense and certainly doesn't fit with any mainstream religion. What Jolie seems to be saying here is that while she doesn't believe, she doesn't want to condemn those who do. That's nice of her, but it wouldn't make her any less of an atheist.

I have a difficult time reading the ReligionFacts information and not concluding that Jolie is probably an atheist - an ethical atheist with strong moral convictions who is actively pursuing important humanitarian goals (just like many other atheists).