The Slatest

Greece’s New Prime Minister Is Country’s First to Take Nonreligious Oath of Office

Alexis Tsipras is Greece’s first atheist prime minister.

Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

The new prime minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, has made history already: Tsipras, an avowed atheist, is Greece’s first leader to swear a nonreligious oath upon taking office. The Economist writes that, upon winning election this week, Tsipras “politely” informed the archbishop of Athens of his unprecedented decision:

It’s hard to overstate what a rupture this marks with the ceremonial culture of Greece. For as long as anybody can remember, every senior office-holder, from socialists to right-wing dictators, has assumed the post with a ritual involving Bibles, crosses and often holy water, sprinkled about with a sprig of basil. The opening words of the Greek constitution recall the theological formulas of the early church which predate by the Hellenic state by more than 1,300 years: “In the name of the holy, consubstantial and indivisible Trinity……”

The Economist notes that the prime minister is still building a relationship with the moderate archbishop, who in fact conducted a religious funeral service for Tsipras’ father.