Who Does An Atheist Vote For?

Is America a democracy, or has it secretly metamorphosed into a closet theocracy?

For a country once so proud of its traditions – the land where freedom of religion was always hailed as sacrosanct and the separation of church and state set in Constitutional concrete – there is a awful lot of emphasis these days on a politician’s religious belief systems.

This is really nothing new, of course. When JFK was campaigning for the presidency in the sixties, his Catholic affiliations led many to question his suitability for the highest office. This week Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is taking a leaf out of Kennedy’s book by making a speech to Republicans clarifying his religious position in the hope it’ll gain him additional support.

Giuliani has slid backwards down the polls due to an unacceptably irreligious lifestyle, and Barack Obama has gone to great lengths emphasizing his Christian, rather than Muslim, beliefs.

Why are these factors relevant in today’s United States? If freedom of religion is truly sacrosanct, should it matter if Obama were a Muslim, or if Giuliani is, in reality, a closet atheist? Do a person’s religious beliefs effect their ability to carry out the duties of the Office of President of the United States, given the Constitutional separation laid down by the Founding Fathers?

Or, has the concrete begun to crack?

Much has been said and written about the present incumbent’s beliefs and his reliance on divine inspiration in the business of decision making. Given his record over the last eight years, it hardly seems a dependable way to run a kid’s tea party, let alone a nation, yet millions of Americans find any other method unacceptable.

What about the millions of non-Christians living in this country? It would appear they have no political voice at all. As one who happens to consider orthodox religious belief a serious handicap to life, I don’t particularly relish having someone with that sort of impediment running the affairs of state. Yet it would seem I have no choice.

In a true democracy a politician’s religion, if he has one, should have no bearing, either on his ability to secure sufficient votes, or to do the job he was elected for.

Recently, ex-British prime minister Tony Blair disclosed to the world that he kept his religious faith under wraps for the years he was in office, for fear it would cost him votes. The British people knew he was a Christian, but they couldn’t care less. He could have been a Buddhist or a Hindu, or even a Muslim, and it wouldn’t have been a problem just so long as he didn’t demand the whole British Parliament bowed five times to Mecca every day.

You see, that’s what a democracy is all about; not caring how people are, or what they believe, just so long as they keep it to themselves and don’t interfere in the lives of others.

Some insist there was once a time when America was like that?

Webster’s dictionary defines a theocracy thus:

“government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided”

Everyone of the front runners, both Democrat and Republican, in the present race for their party’s nomination has stated categorically that their Christian religious belief is the prime guiding factor in their lives and work.

Is America still a democracy, or has it secretly metamorphosed into a closet theocracy?

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8 Replies to “Who Does An Atheist Vote For?”

  1. I find it disturbing, RJ. Are there any atheists in Congress? I think I remember Bill Maher saying in his show a while ago that there is just one – I’ve forgotten the name.

    Considering that there is a sizeable Jewish population, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, as well as agnostics and atheists in the country I find it almost offensive that politicians feel the need to flaunt their religion.

    There are laws about discrimination here, are there not? It’s tantamount to discrimination, to my mind, to make religion part of a presidential, or any political, campaign.

  2. Twilight – his name is Rep. Pete Stark, a democrat of course!) from California (where else?). There’s an interesting link HERE, stating that if Congress was truly representative “…there would be 53-54 non-theistic Congress members, instead of one.”

  3. Thank you for the link. Oh dear!

    “Recent polls show that Americans without a god-belief are, as a group, more distrusted than any other minority in America. Surveys show that the majority of Americans would not vote for an atheist for president even if he or she were the most qualified for the office.”

    Depressing ! It’s things like this that tell me I really AM in a foreign country!

  4. Twilight – I know how you feel. I came here expecting it to feel different, but not foreign. Five years on it’s still foreign, and disturbing. It’s not so much the people, who generally are just like people everywhere, it’s the system and the strange indoctrinations.

    Flimsy – it’s actually working wonderfully well – as a means of populace control. That’s what it was designed to do, right from the days of Paul.

  5. RJ, I would be happy with a lot more Theists among our leaders as opposed to the religious poseurs which afflict us with their ‘faiths’. After all, Theists, believer in a personally cherished supreme being, were common among our nation’s founders.

    You ask,

    Is America still a democracy, or has it secretly metamorphosed into a closet theocracy?

    A third option is that our USA is a nation of pandering bible-thumping, hypocritical politicians who don’t really believe this christian (small-c) swill they dish out.

  6. Vigilante – deists, theists, fideists, Mitt Romneys….oops, how did that creep in? If there’s one thing religion has done for us it’s provide a wealth of diversionary branches confusing to the finest scholars. Biographers of the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, argued long and hard as to whether he was a Deist, or a Theist. Anyone who has read Kant can only be left with the conclusion that he, himself, had no idea of the answer!

    The problem, as I see it, is that we place far too much emphasis on the vagaries of religion, and its effect on our moralistic attitudes, rather than believing in the human species as capable of managing its own moral values without unnecessary recourse to some ‘divine legislator’. It’s a blatant example of our own insecurity as a species. No doubt, certain politicians play at Christian belief to garner votes, but I fear an even greater number are, for once in their lives, sincere when they plead their Christian credentials.

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