Would You Vote For An Atheist? Tell The Truth

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Last week’s election boasted many firsts: Tammy Baldwin was elected as the first openly gay senatorTulsi Gabbard as the country’s first Hindu member of Congress and Barack Obama will continue as the first black president of the United States. But some demographic groups remain underrepresented in high-level government positions. I’m thinking about atheists — at least those out of the theistic closet.


According to the Huffington Post, Kyrsten Sinema will replace Pete Stark as the onlyatheist in Congress. But an article in Jezebel identifying her as such led to the following “clarification” from her campaign: that Sinema “believes the terms non-theist, atheist or non-believer are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character. She does not identify as any of those.” So even a non-traditional candidate, like the openly bi-sexual Sinema, is choosing to distance herself from the A-word.

Why are atheists so conspicuously absent from our nation’s elected positions of power?

2007 poll of American adults found that only 45 percent would vote for a “generally well-qualified” presidential candidate nominated by their party who happened to be an atheist. The numbers were considerably more favorable for hypothetical candidates who happened to be black (94 percent), Jewish (92 percent), women (88 percent), Hispanic (87 percent), Mormon (72 percent) or homosexual (55 percent).

In another national survey, respondents considered how much members of various groups agreed with their “vision of American society.” A whopping 39.6 percent indicated that atheists agreed with their vision “not at all,” eschewing moderate options like “mostly” and “somewhat.” Respondents chose “not at all” less often for every other group considered, including Muslims (26.3 percent), homosexuals (22.6 percent), conservative Christians (13.5 percent), Hispanics (7.6 percent), Jews (7.4 percent) and African Americans (4.6 percent). When it came to welcoming a potential son- or daughter-in-law, atheists faired even worse: almost half of respondents (47.6 percent) would disapprove if their child wanted to marry an atheist.

Written By: Tania Lombrozo
continue to source article at npr.org

22 COMMENTS

  1. Wiki does have a list by country of atheists in politics and law:-

     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L

    Even the US has quite a few but the religious groups are certainly over represented!

    http://prospect.org/article/wh… –  
    People who lack a specific faith are the ones typically closed out from government service. Out of 538 members of Congress, California Rep.  Pete Stark is the only self-avowed atheist. 
    For as much as Republicans opine about the secularist goals of Obama’s presidency, he has stocked his cabinet with Catholics and other gentiles. The highest court of the land
    has six Catholics and three Jews.

  2.  ” The link between atheism and distrust goes some way toward explaining
    why we see so few atheists in important political offices, where public
    trust is essential to successful”

    With the list of American politicians that have broken that trust you would think some one somewhere would give atheist politicians a chance just for a change of  a bad run!

  3. Are you saying his pretending to be a christian or has the world view of an atheist. It is odd that his mother was agnostic and his father an atheist , had no religion in his upbringing and found religion as an adult. He seems too smart but at the same time if he says his a christian then I suppose his a christian

  4. I’m saying I have hope that one day he will identify as an atheist. Whether he is one now, I don’t know. Like you, I’ll take him at his word regarding his choice of the Christian label (though this may be only a cultural label). Don’t get me wrong, his secular scorecard before the election was not very good. 

    I’ll admit that in a forum that cherishes evidence for claims, I have none. But I’m not making a claim, just expressing a hope. I suppose, like you, I find his background too intellectually fertile to accept that it won’t bear rational fruit in the future.

    Mike

      

  5. I don’t care if Obama is a Christian; the only thing that matters is whether he’s a good man, which he seems to be, drone attacks notwithstanding. If I found out somewhere down the line that he’d been lying about his beliefs to advance his political career, I might have to rethink that view. I actually find it weird that people project onto Obama their own view of what his religious convictions are: Tea Party types think he’s a closet Muslim or the Antichrist; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Al-Qaeda lot think he’s a Zionist; David Icke no doubt thinks the President is a bloody big lizard.

    We don’t need to say Barack Obama is a closet nonbeliever; it presupposes that only atheists are capable of being smart or doing good. If he’s a Christian, then he’s one of the okay ones. I know, I know: “foul accommodationist”.

    Edit: it isn’t only a cultural label:

    I’m a Christian by choice. My family didn’t – frankly, they weren’t folks who went to church every week. And my mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew, but she didn’t raise me in the church. So I came to my Christian faith later in life, and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead – being my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me. I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God. But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people and do our best to help them find their own grace. That’s what I strive to do. That’s what I pray to do every day. I think my public service is part of that effort to express my Christian faith.

    — President Barack Obama, September 27, 2010

  6. I haven’t read his autobiography but those who have tell me that it’s reasonable to conclude he joined that church on the south side of Chicago because it was the only organization that could get anything done in that community.

    Mike

  7.  This negative reaction to atheists while not unique to the U.S.  seems stronger than in most other developed countries.  That begs the question “What do you dislike about atheists ?”  Anyone know of a survey that addressed this ?  It is like that person who reported the reaction of a parent “I don’t mind if you don’t believe in dog, but to become an atheist !”  It seems there are a great many false impressions of what it means to be an atheist, in the U.S.  Perhaps a good survey would expose those to some daylight, and perhaps de-activate the goofy ones.

  8. rod-the-farmer
     This negative reaction to atheists while not unique to the U.S.  seems stronger than in most other developed countries.  That begs the question
    “What do you dislike about atheists ?”  Anyone know of a survey that addressed this ?  It is like that person who reported the reaction of a parent “I don’t mind if you don’t believe in dog, but to become an atheist !”  It seems there are a great many false impressions of what it means to be an atheist, in the U.S.

    The false impressions are probably due to the “demonised straw atheists”, inculcated by ranting preachers in the blotting-paper minds of sheeples. 

    “Faith” without evidence can soak up ANYTHING and pronounce it to be TRrrrroooo!

    I explained some of their misconceptions here:
    http://richarddawkins.net/news

  9. I wouldn’t vote for a professing atheist.  Considering the power our leaders have, I think everyone is better served if those people believed they were accountable to something much greater than themselves or those they govern.  Power cannot be unchecked in the hands of men, history documents this quite well I think

  10.  Except of course if they thought they were on a mission from said being, who would bail them out of whatever situation they had got us into, only to let their potential great great grandchildren down very badly when it turns out their imaginary friend wasn’t there and they had made a hores arse of things.

    Far better to have someone who actually realises that their decisions have real consequences for both themselves and any potential decendants, in addition to realising that nothing is going to reward them or indeed fix whatever they have done.

  11. I agree with your exception and would indeed prefer someone who has cognizance of the consequences of their actions throughout many generations.  Better yet would be if that person was not only aware of the consequences, but in fact felt accountable for the entirety of them.

    The point I’m getting at is if you don’t believe in a “day of judgement”, you are enabled in a way that a believer is not

  12. Kaubell
    I wouldn’t vote for a professing atheist.  Considering the power our leaders have, I think everyone is better served if those people believed they were accountable to something much greater than themselves or those they govern. 
    Power cannot be unchecked in the hands of men,
    history documents this quite well I think

     

    Indeed history does, with centuries of strife, wars and genocides in the name of various gods and versions of gods -  with rampaging armies often with “god(s)” on both sides (allegedly).

    There was this fairly recent example, but there are many others.

    The Deutsche Christen
    (German Christians) were a German Protestantism movement aligned towards antisemetic principles of Nazism. The DC were sympathetic to Hitler’s goal of uniting the individual Protestant churches into a single Reich church.

    The DC was first formed in 1931 and the flag was flown during marches and demonstrations –

    http://nobeliefs.com/images/De

    http://nobeliefs.com/images/De

    http://nobeliefs.com/mementoes

  13. Well, of course Sara, religion and politics are brother and sister. How else could a handful of idiots maintain control over millions of bleating sheep without using fear to insure their loyalty? That’s why Republican insanity works with the evangelical flock. The harder the rams bump heads over mindless doctrine, the more fear and havoc they spread. I yearn for the day when the sane majority actually have a say. Secure Internet voting should be used to decide all government proposals.

  14. Europe and the UK are much less bigoted against atheists than the US.
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    David Miliband: Future Atheist Prime Minister? – http://atheism.about.com/b/200

    Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, PC (27 March 1912 – 26 March 2005), was a British Labour politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1976–79)
    Although there is much doubt about how much belief Callaghan retained into adult life, the Baptist nonconformist ethic was a profound influence throughout all of his public and private life. In the mid-1980s Callaghan told an interviewer that he was an atheist. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J

     [Atheist] Nick Clegg became Deputy Prime Minister following the 2010 general election, when the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government with the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister David Cameron. – http://www.celebatheists.com/w

    Ed Miliband: I don’t believe in God – Ed Miliband is a British politician. He has been the leader of the UK Labour Party and leader of the opposition since 25 September 2010 -http://www.celebatheists.com/w… 

    So the present leaders of two of the three major UK political parties are atheists.

  15. “This negative reaction to atheists while not unique to the U.S. seems stronger than in most other developed countries. That begs the question “What do you dislike about atheists ?” Anyone know of a survey that addressed this ?” wrote rod-the-farmer.

    Here’s a book for you instead of a survey. The roots of this reaction are illuminated in Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, published 50 years ago but still scarily relevant:

    “Puritanism had always required a delicate balance between intellect, which was esteemed as essential to true religion in New England, and emotion, which was necessary to the strength and durability of Puritan piety. This balance proved to be precarious, and there developed a tendency toward a split in the religious community itself. One side of the church tended to be socially correct, and sophisticated, liberal, and latitudinarian in its intellectual outlook, but religiously cold and formal. The other side, which was to prove vulnerable to revivalism, was moved both by ideas and by religious fervor; but its partisans, in their most fervent moments, turned antinomian [definition: relating to the doctrine that by faith and the dispensation of grace a Christian is released form the obligation of adhering to any moral law(!!!)] and anti-intellectual.”

    To oversimplify, then came the rash of evangelists in the nineteenth century, paving the way nicely for McCarthy. Why bother thinking if all you need to do is believe? So not only do we have religion, we have an emotional version that muddies the moral waters and discourages its adherents from developing intellectually. Hope this is useful.

  16. The sad part about all this is that each of those groups is generally misunderstood and so people fear them and their motives. I would vote for any candidate who was well qualified regardless of religious belief or lack thereof, race or sexual orientation. Ultimately it seems sad as well that people seem to have forgotten how a representative gov’t is supposed to work. Politicians aren’t supposed to fight for their own beliefs they are supposed to fight for the beliefs or those who voted for them. 

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