Tuesday, February 20, 2007

An Atheist President? Not Any Time Soon

Outside the Beltway reports on a Gallup poll indicating that only 45% of Americans would vote for an atheist for President (compared to 55% who would vote for a homosexual). Three thoughts come to mind.

First, who are the 10% who would vote for a homosexual but not an atheist? Are there large numbers of gay, or gay-friendly, fundamentalists that I don't know about? Is this the Ted Haggard group?

Second, I wonder what the answers would have been if the pollsters had used the term "agnostic"? It may not trigger the same negative reactions that "atheist" does.

Third, why wouldn't people vote for an atheist? Is it a supposed lack of values? My hope is that if presented with an actual atheist who had good values, people might think differently. (E.g., if Ronald Reagan had suddenly declared in 1983, "hey, I'm an atheist.")

MORE: The poll itself has more info. Support from "liberals", "moderates" and "conservatives" (in that order):

homosexual 81 57 36
atheist 67 48 29

So, 33% of self-identified "liberals" would not vote for an atheist! I wonder what they think "liberal" means?

The poll also notes:
Only about one in five Americans said they would vote for an atheist when the item was first asked in the late 1950s, compared with 45% today. Just 26% said they would support a homosexual presidential candidate in 1978, compared with the current 55%.

Well, it's a good trend anyway. Pretty slow-moving, though.

ADDED: I also wonder how people would react to "deist." My sense is there are a lot of people out there who believe generally in God, but do not subscribe to a particular religion (at least not strongly).

1 comment:

Trey said...

I personally hate the terms liberal and conservative because they mean very different things to different people. Liberal in the social sense means that a government should interfere with people's lives as little as possible. Liberal in the fiscal sense means the government should take the job to redistributing wealth in manners which seem appropriate.

Unfortunately while many free thinkers care much more about the social aspects of government, the fiscal aspects are what most people talk about when distinguishing between "liberals" and "conservatives". In conclusion this poll tells us about as much as a poll matching the views of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry lovers tells us.