WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR ATHEISTS TO GET ELECTED?

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Submitted Date 06/08/2019
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First, let me say that I have nothing against religious people, unless they shove their faith down the throat of everyone else. I'm just looking for a fair playing field. It's hard for me to understand why it's so hard for atheists or even agnostics to be elected. What is everyone so afraid of?

As of 2017, there was not a single open atheist in Congress, and even more shocking, only one member who called himself "religiously unaffiliated."

The country itself is becoming more non-religious. The younger generation, especially, is turning away from religion and finding humanism, or agnosticism to be more inviting. The majority of this country wants gay people to be able to marry, wants marijuana to be legalized, and wants a seperation of church and state-none of which are typically the views of someone devoutly religious. Why then, do none of these values show up at the voting booth if someone were to openly admit their atheism?

There are seven states in this country in which an atheist cannot run for public office. The Constitution of the United States guaratnees a freedom of religion, which therefore also secures a freedom of no religion, if one so chooses. Why have these states decided to step on our founding document and place their own ban in place?

Maybe we trust religious people more. Arizona State University, a leading research university (and my undergraduate college!) recently conducted a study about this. The conclusion, religious people were trusted more than non-religious people, and the reason- to many people, religion tells them that someone is going to do the right thing, because their religion forces them to. I suppose we tend to ignore all those who claimed to be religious, and did so many evil things. There are good religious people, and good people who aren't religious at all. I personally don't believe that religion makes someone better than someone else.

To further solidify that atheists aren't as trusted as religious people, Psychology Today conducted a study asking how many people would vote for an openly atheist candidate. Only 54% said they would. An important point to understand is that the study didn't specify anything about this hypothetical atheist — only that they were an atheist. 46% of people, it seems, wanted nothing to do with them, no matter what type of person they were. We want to trust our candidates, and some just feel that religion makes one more trustworthy. On a positive note, the 54% of people stating they would vote for an atheist is the highest number of "yes" votes the U.S. has seen for that group. Additionally, there are more people each year identify as atheist, agnostic, or as having no religion. It may be that an openly atheist candidate could now stand a chance. I would certainly hope so.

The purpose in writing this is not to say that atheists should be elected just because they're an atheist. You should always vote person over party, belief, or ideology. This blog is not designed to put down religious people, or say they are unqualified to hold office, or have their faith. Everyone is entitled to believe how they wish. I'm just asking that atheists, agnostics, and those with no-religion are given a seat at the same table. You don't need a god to be a good person. You don't need a god to be a trustworthy person. You don't need a god to make smart decisions. Even if you did believe in one, and you are in public office, the Constitution, should you follow it, prevents you from utilizing that deity in such a way that you are forcing it on others.

Atheists face many stereotypes as it is. They're said to be untrustworthy. They're said to be unethical, because how could anyone who doesn't believe in a holy deity have any moral compass? (This thinking ignores the countless ancient cultures that had no supernatural belief system). Some even say that atheists believe in the devil and worship him. (I'm not even going into how dumb this idea is). Holding public office is a privilege that is guaranteed to those who the voters trust enough to elect. It shouldn't matter if you have faith, or don't, so long as you promise not to use your faith, or lack thereof, in an unfair way against other people. Just do your job, and work for the citizens that elected you.

There will be a time when an open atheist or agnostic runs for office. And there will be a time when he or she wins. We will get over that hump. It doesn't matter what belief system someone has, and I'm not advocating that you vote for someone with no religion just because they have no religion. Just vote smart, but do allow someone with no religion the same seat at the same table as a religious person.

"God is conscience. He is even the atheism of the atheist." -Gandhi

Comments

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  • Kiersten Felch 3 months, 1 week ago

    Maybe one day.

  • Julie Nunn 3 months, 1 week ago

    I believe in God but I am totally in favor of gay rights, legalized pot, and separation of church & state. I don't shove my beliefs on anyone. IMO whatever way you choose to believe or not believe should have zero to do with running for anything. A person's beliefs are personal to THEM and are no one else's business. I don't care who they are or what they choose as a profession. But with regard to politics, basically anyone with enough money and connections can run for political office in this country. Our current President as well as many of those who preceeded him are proof of that. Religion should have no bearing on anyone doing the job they have been hired to do....it is totally irrelevant.