Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she respects the church and other religious groups in spite of being an atheist.
Responding to comments from Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey suggesting Christians might not vote for her in the election on August 21, Gillard said she was someone who respected the religious views of others.
"In terms of the work that the Catholic church does, that other churches and religious groups do in our society I am a big respecter," The Age quoted her, as telling reporters.
"And my history has been to be a big supporter," she added.
Stating that as Australia’s education minister, she had worked respectfully with the Catholic education community, Gillard said: "That`s the approach I will continue to take as Prime Minister."