When Jospin was the Socialist party candidate for the French presidency the newspapers reported that he is atheist.
Chirac, to whom Jospin had lost narrowly, called for an early election. The unpopular Prime Minister Alan Jupe lost heavily and Jospin is PM now.
Update (16-Feb-01): a reader reports that Jospin "belongs to the Reformed Christian Church". He has been moved to the 'ambiguous' category.
Update (28-May-01): controversy continues to swirl around this entry. Reader MDe writes "About Lionel Jospin: His membership in a church is no obstacle to atheism. It's rooted in the nature of religion in Europe. Most northern Europeans are atheists or agnostics, but at the same time, most Europeans belong to one of the 'official', government-sponsored churches (catholic, protestant). It's seen as more of a social institution, and since official documents list your membership, it's seen as not beneficial to leave the church you're born into. Nobody in Europe goes to church (well, northern Europe). A great many people are open atheists and keep their church membership for purely social reasons.
MDe makes the case for the irrelevance of church membership by public officials: "The statement 'so help me God' is optional for German government officials when taking the oath of office. Several prominent members of government, including Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, declined to include the statement. Others who have declined: Joschka Fischer, Secretary of State and Vice Chancellor. Otto Schily, Interior Secy. Walter Riester, Labor Secy. Juergen Trittin, Secy. for the Environment, who after taking the oath said to the press: 'Why should God help me now? He hasn't helped me over all those years.'"
A December 1999 quote from Lionel Jospin:
"Je suis un dogmatique qui