Last week’s election boasted many firsts: Tammy Baldwin was elected as the first openly gay senator, Tulsi 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?
A 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 Lombrozocontinue to source article at npr.org