Until the marriage equality debate, he would have rated a 5 but he succumbed to right-wing pressure and agreed to support amendments to allow civil celebrants to discriminate on religious grounds.
Malcolm Turnbull has declared he believes in religious freedom “even more strongly” than in same-sex marriage as he responds to John Howard’s call for swift action to reveal new safeguards for all Australians before they cast their postal survey votes over the next seven weeks.
“I definitely believe in God,” Turnbull told the ABC’s Australian Story in 2009. But it was not always so. He admitted in the same interview that “I didn’t have a particularly religious upbringing at all”. As a boy in the 1960s he was an occasional Sunday worshipper at Randwick Presbyterian church in eastern Sydney, and as a precocious teenager at Sydney Grammar School he is reputed to have engaged in private discussions about religion with his headmaster. But by the time he was a young man he was proclaiming to friends that he was an agnostic.
It is true that when he married Lucy Hughes, in Oxfordshire in March 1980, the ceremony took place in a church – but it was an Anglican church. At that time neither Turnbull nor Lucy was religiously committed. The brash Turnbull, then 25, resorted to lawyerly sophistry to persuade the local Church of England priest to solemnise the union: “You are part of an established church,” he argued. “So you’re like a public servant, and you have a duty to prevent fornication in your parish.”
When Turnbull rediscovered religion he evidently followed his wife’s lead. During the Catechumenate process he received instruction from a Jesuit priest, Father Michael Kelly, and now attends Mass periodically at the Church of St Mary Magdelene in Sydney’s Rose Bay.