Atheist Acceptability on the Rise in America | Psychology Today

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The good news for nonbelievers is that, for the first time ever, more than half the American population would vote for a qualified, open atheist for president.  A recent Gallup poll shows that 54 percent of Americans would not consider a candidate’s atheism to be a disqualification for holding the nation’s highest office.


This shows remarkable progress, a nine-point increase from 2007 and 36 points higher than the 18 percent acceptability figure that nonbelievers received when the question was first asked in 1958. Clearly, seculars are making huge strides in gaining acceptance. If the trend continues, we can expect that other open nonbelievers may soon join Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) as elected lawmakers in the nation’s capital.

The bad news, however, is that atheists still rank lowest among the groups listed. Muslims (58 percent), gays and lesbians (68 percent) and Mormons (80 percent) all ranked higher. While no fair and rational observer would suggest that membership in any of those groups should disqualify a candidate for office, to secular activists it is nevertheless troubling that nonbelievers still occupy the cellar of American public opinion.

Obviously, atheists and humanists have a long way to go to remove the stigma that the public and media irrationally attach to religious skepticism. But since secularity is quite prevalent among young Americans, where recent numbers show that religious affiliation and belief are very low among those under 30, it is reasonable to believe that the vilification of the atheism will diminish over time.

Written By: David Niose
continue to source article at psychologytoday.com

24 COMMENTS

  1. It is still sad that this is even an issue.
    In 2012, a headline like “Atheist Acceptability on the Rise in America” should be an embarrassment.

    “Atheist Acceptability on the Rise in Saudi Arabia” might be worth reading, I suppose.

  2. The good
    news for nonbelievers is that, for the first time ever, more than half the
    American population would vote for a qualified, open atheist for
    president.  A recent Gallup poll shows
    that 54 percent of Americans would not consider a candidate’s atheism
    to be a disqualification for holding the nation’s highest office.

     

    Great!
    Now to win elections we only need 93 % of Americans to think our policies are
    better than those of the other guy! Oh, wait…

     

    Bottom
    of Form no fair and rational observer would suggest that membership in any of
    those groups should disqualify a candidate for office

     

    Really? No-one can fairly, rationally think that
    someone whose critical thinking skills let in Mormonism couldn’t get the
    national policy for 300,000,000 people right? If you think the world is young,
    you can’t be trusted with geology, environmentalism or oil. Mormonism isn’t
    exactly enlightened in its views on women or black people, either. (Oh yeah,
    like their 1978 compliance with a sudden law has completely wiped out the
    racism.)

     

    religious
    affiliation and belief are very low among those under 30

     

    64 % is very low? What’s low? What’s normal? What’s
    high?

     

    If
    secularity can gain acceptance in this hostile environment, one would have
    difficulty imagining any scenario – aside from perhaps the Second Coming
    - that would reverse its momentum.

     

    Well,
    what about people expecting the Second Coming? 44 % of Americans think it’s
    either certainly or probably coming in their lifetimes. If we can’t mellow them,
    our 54 % approval rating is close to the ceiling.

  3. Comment by  Peter Grant :
    I wouldn’t vote for anyone who wasn’t an atheist, wonder how many people are like me.

    My answer:  Count me in(PS…This new format doesn’t seem to have comment numbers, or an easy way to highlight quotes)

  4. I’d like to know why responders chose to say they’d support an atheist for president. I can think of rational and loony reasons. Knowing that answer could really help our movement coalesce around what’s working.

    Mike   

  5. can’t afford to be like you. I don’t know if the candidate I voted for in the last GE was an atheist or not but her party leader is.

    I don’t think many people who want to use their right to vote have much choice. simply not voting because they all believe in god is not a sesnsible option, at least until enough atheists are in parliament to make the theists the exception. until then, just vote for the one who’s least likely to want to have us burned at the stake

  6. Good news. It must be hard to keep calling atheists evil when they start standing up in front of you and openly proclaiming they are atheist and one hell of a good person, too. The stats don’t match the meme. Meme off!

  7. I can only vote for atheists.

    There are little code words that indicate who’s who. For instance, when asked about faith Obama said he “believe(s) in the power of prayer.” Well, so do I. It is a powerful psychological tool… wink wink.

  8. I am old enough (56) to sort of vaguely remember (OK, I read it more than remember) when John Kennedy was singled out because he was Catholic and had to respond. And there was no chance a Jew could be elected President throughout the 1960s and probably 70s. Or a woman. It was an enormous thing when Geraldine Ferraro was nominated Vice President. We now have openly gay congresspeople, and that will only grow. Within 20 years much of this will change, because it always does. Not for the hardcore ultra religious conservatives, because they are happier clinging to a mythological wonderful past (currently the 1950s, because they are morons who don’t a thing about McArthyism, fear of nuclear war and were happy when those pesky Negroes were kept in their place), but that is a number that will shrink, because they are out and out not fun, and history shows that Puritans (which these are) shrink for many reasons, and history does tend to repeat itself. 

  9. There will come a time when not being an atheist is a disqualification. I doubt anyone would vote for a president who governed by divination of bone fragments and bat droppings ( I hope). Its only a matter of time before chuntering to the imaginary sky god of death is seen to be the same.

    Even Tony Blair had the sense to realise that promoting his cathlick views while in office would get him condemned as a nutter (quite apart from other reasons to do so).

  10. In my opinion, this remarkable watershed started with the publication of “The God Delusion”. If it were not too ironic getting an award from the “head” of a “church”, Richard should receive a Knighthood for his services to Planetary Progress…

  11. Peter, I’m not sure what your nationality is, but taking that position in the US would basically take you out of the electorate. Of course, one suspects that there are a number of closeted atheists in higher elected office, but we still have a very long way to go until openly atheist (or even agnostic) candidates regularly populate the ballot.

  12. This is important news, I think  –  and a vindication of the “in-your-face” approach taken by the four horsemen et al. despite the jeremiads of the concern trolls. Just because people don’t like it in their faces doesn’t mean that approach isn’t doing its job.

  13. Yes stunning really  and yet further evidence that religion is losing its death choke hold on the populace.

    There is still a hell of a way to travel, but considering the height of that implacable black cold  mountain of ignorant and blind faith just 25 years back it is yielding and chipping away in great slabs of powdery gritty rotten friable rock, and reality shines through into that dark and dank pit every now and then.
    And those breaches are occurring with ever more frequency.

    Now is neither the time nor the reason to blink they are in disgruntled and fearful retreat for the first time in 2000 years, they are in shock and they have only one back up a plan B as it were…the schools!

    They are targeting the schools because that is the chink in secular armour and the only glimmer of insipid and banal light shed on their predicament because schools allows them access  to infect or die and the theists know that and what small opportunity they have they will take full advantage of.
    Hence the upsurge in faith schools.

    The traditional grand conversions of the non-committed folk has fallen by the wayside…the non-committed are too astute and educated these days…so the theists conclude they need the innocent  naive kiddies to harangue and goad and through fear of authority press gang  into the faith.

    Desperate times require desperate measures, the major xian religions are fully aware that time is not on their side…not any-more…20 yrs and they are royally screwed…they are gearing up to fight like a cornered diseased and flea infested shit house rat.

    And forcing them into that stance is a valuable clue…they are losing!

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