February 20, 2007

Majority of Americans wouldn't vote for an atheist presidential candidate

According to a new Gallup Poll, atheists are the only group who a majority of Americans would not consider voting for president. 45% of those polled said they would vote for an atheist, but 53% said they would not.

On the other hand, every other sub-group had a majority in their favor:

  • Black: 94% for, 5% against;
  • Jewish: 92% for, 7% against;
  • Woman: 88% for, 11% against;
  • Hispanic: 87% for, 12% against;
  • Mormon: 72% for, 24% against;
  • Homosexual: 55% for, 43% against.

I agree with James Joyner who wrote "Iíve long known that an acknowledged atheist could never win the presidency. But who would have guessed that atheists would poll behind homosexuals?"

Why the negativity towards atheists? Well, like it or not, America is a religious country. People probably want a president who would consider that whatever actions he takes, he'll ultimately have to answer to a higher power. Without getting into a long-winded discussion of religion, I believe that most Americans (since most Americans believe in a God) at least in part guide their behavior based on how it will be judged "later" -- meaning at those ever-lovin' pearly gates. I know I personally do this, even though I do not believe in organized religion. (I am personally fairly religious. I just don't feel I need to attend a formal service to "make it real.") I try to treat my fellow man politely, to help those in need, not screw over people (even people I don't like) ... in essence to follow those 'ol Ten Commandments as best I can. Why? Because I want the Big Man Upstairs to look at me when I keel over and say, "Hube, you did OK. Come on up."

This is certainly not to say that atheists do not/cannot behave appropriately or morally; not at all. I am only acquainted with one atheist that I know of, and he seems like an OK guy. He certainly seems to care for his fellow man, etc., and isn't that what matters, after all?

Could I vote for an atheist for president? Probably, sure. Like any other candidate, I'd weigh all the positions and viewpoints and make a judgment. But in my lifetime, the question is moot -- I most likely will not even be placed in such a position. Any atheist candidate will never survive the primaries.

Posted by Hube at February 20, 2007 04:51 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Atheists can be decent human beings. Passionate atheists a la Mike Newdow - ugh.

An atheist could get elected if they could get over the arrogant argument that not only are the majority of Americans mistaken - that there is no god, but we must be weak, stupid, brainwashed or out of our minds to believe in anything greater than ourselves.

In my experience religion is, by it's very nature, never, ever, organized.

Posted by: AnonymousOpinion at February 20, 2007 11:41 PM

I'm an atheist. Guess I'll never be president.

What would Thomas Jefferson make of all this? He was not exactly full of kind words for Christianity.

You would think, given the lack of popularity of our current president, that people could get over religion as a qualifier.

Posted by: The Unabrewer at February 21, 2007 01:56 AM

So, you are saying that you are behaving nicely only because you are affraid of a higher power? And that your president is doing the same? I find this very disturbing. And the notion that atheists, not being in fear of the big guy upstairs, are completely without moral..., hm.

Posted by: anaoymousAtheist at February 21, 2007 04:45 AM

Hube,

How do you know you haven't already voted for an Atheist? Do you not think politicians would lie about their faith to be a viable candidate?

Posted by: Duffy at February 21, 2007 08:26 AM

AnonymousAtheist: Try re-reading my post. You obviously didn't do a very thorough job the first time around. Cripes. Here, let me assist you:

I believe that most Americans (since most Americans believe in a God) at least in part guide their behavior based on how it will be judged "later" ...

That deals with the "only" in your query, now doesn't it? And I didn't address the president at all, now, did I?

This is certainly not to say that atheists do not/cannot behave appropriately or morally; not at all.

How did you miss this? Is it because you wanted to read into this post what you wished -- instead of what I actually said??

Posted by: Hube at February 21, 2007 08:37 AM

Duff: You are correct. Guess we'll never know. But I doubt what you say is accurate.

Unabrewer: What would Thomas Jefferson make of all this? He was not exactly full of kind words for Christianity.

So? Jefferson and the Founders, even though some were skeptical of religion, as deists they clearly believed in a higher power.

Posted by: Hube at February 21, 2007 08:41 AM

You probably already HAVE voted for an atheist. There are plenty of functional atheists in the pews.

What is the test for being an atheist? Is it simply a matter of stating you don't believe in a God?

Or is there some behavioral test that can mark you as an atheist, regardless of your public statements?

Posted by: anon at February 21, 2007 09:27 AM

anon: So, I probably already have. Perhaps you can tell me who that might be (remember -- for president)? I said I probably could vote for one, so big whoop.

And yes -- for me, being an atheist is not believing in a supreme being (or god).

Posted by: Hube at February 21, 2007 09:33 AM

Um, I think the point was whether we'd vote for an avowed atheist - Joyner used the term acknowledged. As for your claim, anon, I don't believe there's such a thing as a secret atheist, since most of them simply can't shut up about how much smarter they are than everybody else.

Posted by: G Rex at February 21, 2007 09:38 AM

I know a few quiet atheists. You just don't find them in group that regularly discusses religion. They generally know what they think, but don't feel the need to proselytize. Atheists who are very verbal about their religious beliefs are usually smug jackasses. They also often aren't as smart as they think they are.

But then the same could be said about a lot of in-your-face Christians.

Posted by: Jeff the Baptist at February 21, 2007 01:51 PM

Following on Jeff's point, I think that most in-your-face avowed atheists are really trying to convince themselves. I have a friend who I'm convinced is trying to convince himself God doesn't exist.

Posted by: Paul Smith at February 21, 2007 02:16 PM