Bill Hayden, who served as the 21st Governor-General of Australia, was an atheist all his life. Now at the age of 85, he turned to God and converted to Christianity.
Growing up Hayden was raised by a loving Catholic mother and an abusive father who was also an atheist, which drew him further from Christ. His father’s strong rejection toward religion had a substantial influence on Hayden throughout his upbringing. “I was exposed to and understood what family violence was about,” he said. My father was a very bitter anti-religious man, I think that got to me,” he told 7.30.
As a dedicated man of his Country, he went from serving in the Australian Military Force to the Navy and, then onto the Queensland Public Service and Police Force. While in the Police Force he privately pursued his education further and completed an economics degree at the University of Queensland, he did not know that soon after that he would grow to be considered one of Australia’s iconic Labor leaders and 21st Governor-General. For years he was outspoken on his disregard for the Lord. He was the first atheist and one-time republican as well as the first governor-general to refuse to make an oath on the Bible. Hayden even declined an offer to be appointed the Chief Scout of Australia in 1989, stating that he was an atheist and that the Scout Promise, says, “do my best to do my duty to my God,” which conflicted tremendously with his beliefs.
In 1966, His dislike for the church was tested even more so after the tragic death of his 5-year-old daughter, Michaela, when she was coming home from Sunday school. However, soon after that incident, Hayden was starting the introduction of Medibank now called Medicare, where he worked with Sister Mary Angela Doyle. She helped him build a reputation in the community, which he is forever grateful for. It was at that moment when his understanding of faith began to grow. Hayden said it was witnessing several selfless acts of compassion like through Sister Mary Angela Doyle and by other Christians over his lifetime including his stroke that had him hospitalized for seven months, that touched his heart and strongly encouraged his decision to come to Christ.
In 2014, Hayden was rushed to the hospital following a stroke, and in this event was when he was convinced that God does truly exist. Hayden said the stroke made it apparent to him that there is “more to life than just me.” He continues with, “I had to make a dedication of myself for the good of others, before God. I felt that strongly.”
After his recent decision to dedicate his life to Christ, Hayden states, “I feel better now. In my body, I feel much better and in my mind. I’m looking forward to playing a more active role in the church in Ipswich. I’m part of the church, and I feel better for acknowledging that part of it. I’m just another fallible human being. There is only one star in our lives, and that’s Jesus Christ,” he concluded.