Why should open atheism preclude elected office?

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Probably because my writing and activities frequently involve taking stands on issues of public policy, from time to time I am asked whether I would consider running for political office. Such inquiries provide me with an opportunity to get a good laugh, because I usually respond with something like this:

“I’m not so sure I have the ideal resume for elected office. I currently serve as president of a group that advocates for atheists (the Secular Coalition for America). Before that, I served two terms as president of another atheist-humanist advocacy group (the American Humanist Association). Moreover, I've also written a book called Nonbeliever Nation. And to top it all off, I’m lead counsel in a lawsuit that challenges the ‘under God’ wording of the Pledge of Allegiance!” 


My questioner usually gets my point quickly, and is already laughing before I cap off this statement with a question of my own: “Does that look like the resume of a viable candidate for election?”

After we both enjoy this little chuckle, we’ll move the conversation toward more realistic topics.

As I relayed this story to one young person recently, however, I received a different response. She smiled slightly, but then her face immediately became serious again and she asked another question: “Why should any of those things disqualify you from running for office?”

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

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  1. Atheism should never preclude someone from serving in public office. I think people need to start thinking more rationally and look at the qualifications of the candidate not his religious belief or the lack thereof.

  2. I do what is reasonable, not what I imagine god whispered in my ear.

    God is not going to clean up this mess. It is up to us.

    God has not given us world peace in 6000 years. It is up to us.

    If your son wants to get a job at Monsanto, BP, United, he had better be trained in science not creation science.

    The Bible says “thou shalt not kill” but my competitors find thousands of exceptions.

    The key will be starting with school, boards, then parks boards, then city councils, then state legislatures, then congress, then senate.

  3. The simple answer is it shouldn’t but in a country where a large proportion of the population believe implicitly in the sky god of death an atheist is a liability. You piss off the sky god of death and there will be consequences. Wreaking devastation in retribution for immorality is bad enough but what’s he going to do if you elect somebody who doesn’t believe in him? It also means you are amoral and because you don’t believe it also means you are missing something important about the human condition (unspecified) so you are unfit to represent those who aren’t missing it.

  4. Atheists are the only people that should be allowed to run for office; as they are the only ones who can honestly claim to be unbiased in matters of religion. The government and the law are supposed to be unbiased and even go so far as to make sweeping claims “all men are created equal” types of things….. “justice is blind…” types of things.

    Justice is NOT blind and men are NOT created equal when you allow religions to compete for seats that control policy. The law would be absolutely fair and unbiased (along religious lines) if the person administering it had no religion. As it stands we are in a quagmire of corruption and wink wink nudge nudge concerning “fairness” and “equality” and “rights” and “taxation” and “representation”…

    BTW, this does not imply that the law would be unbiased along any lines other than religion. Certainly any person is capable of many many biases and collusion.

    • In reply to #5 by Stevehill:

      It shouldn’t.

      And of course in nearly all civilized democracies, it doesn’t.

      Unfortunately, many in the U.S. equate belief in God with patriotism, as long as it’s the right God, aka: the same God they believe in.

      • In reply to #10 by phantom_scribbler:

        In reply to #5 by Stevehill:

        It shouldn’t.

        And of course in nearly all civilized democracies, it doesn’t.

        Unfortunately, many in the U.S. equate belief in God with patriotism, as long as it’s the right God, aka: the same God they believe in.

        But that’s completely irrational.

        Oh, wait a minute…

    • In reply to #6 by Alan4discussion:

      This seems to be a US problem, although there have been US atheist politicians;-
      List of US atheists in politics and law.
      . . . . .although it looks as if atheists in senior positions are more usual in Europe and the United kingdom.

      Australia and New Zealand have had quite a number of Prime Ministers (Presidents) who have been atheists. Doesn’t matter a jot in these outposts, neither should it in USA.

  5. It is a demographic issue that is slowly changing. More and more of the young people today are openly without religion; as these people grow older, and into the demographic of public office holders, it will become more and more common for lack of religion to be only one of many minor issues in the minds of voters.

    • In reply to #7 by Quine:

      It is a demographic issue that is slowly changing. More and more of the young people today are openly without religion; as these people grow older, and into the demographic of public office holders, it will become more and more common for lack of religion to be only one of many minor issues in the m…

      Logically that should be the trend, but who will step forward to be the first candidate to stand for election ( in the US) being openly atheist? It has to start somewhere, but the current crop of politicians seem to be even more vocal in their religious affiliation.

      I can’t see it happening until the younger generation are very much in the majority and the older demographic have all retired and drifted into political irrelevance.

  6. The Daily Show produced America: The Book. When discussing various Founding Fathers and great presidents they would give a list of reasons as to why they would be unelectable today, such as Franklin rejecting the Divinity of Christ, Jefferson publishing his own Bible sans woo, Roosevelt smoking opium, or Washington refusing to attend church.

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