Atheism and American politics

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Irving Berlin's song God Bless America is a popular American patriotic song written by Berlin in 1918.

The 2013 Freedom of Thought report published the International Humanist and Ethical Union indicates: "...the U.S. has long been home to a social and political atmosphere in which atheists and the non-religious are made to feel like lesser Americans or non-Americans."[1] See also: American atheism and Sociology of "atheism is un-American" view

According to the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS), the number of atheists and agnostics in the United States has remained relatively stable in the past 23 years. In 2014, 3% of Americans identified as atheists, and 5% identified as agnostics.[2] In 1991, 2% of Americans identified as atheist, and 4% identified as agnostic.[3]

In June 2016, American Interest reported: "First of all, religious belief is still very powerful and widespread, and there is nothing inevitable about its decline. In fact, the proportion of people who say they believe in God actually ticked modestly upward, from 86 percent to 89 percent, since Gallup last asked the question in 2014."[4]

The Pew Research Center reported in 2013: "The number of people who identify themselves as atheists in the United States has been rising, modestly but steadily, in recent years. Our aggregated data from 2012 show that 2.4% of American adults say they are atheists when asked about their religious identity, up from 1.6% in 2007."[5]

Many Americans have a very unfavorable view of atheists (see: Views on atheists).

Atheism and U.S. presidential politics[edit]

In 2012, the Gallup organization reported: "While more than nine in 10 Americans would vote for a presidential candidate who is black, a woman, Catholic, Hispanic, or Jewish, significantly smaller percentages would vote for one who is an atheist (54%) or Muslim (58%)."[6]

Donald Trump and American atheists[edit]

See also: Donald Trump and American atheists and American atheism and Secular leftists and psychogenic illness

Many leftists/liberals were extremely upset/angry that Donald Trump won the 2016 U.S presidential race and that anger has lingered.[7][8]

At the 2018 American Atheists National Convention, the ex-president of the American Atheists organization David Silverman declared about the atheist movement post President Donald Trump's election:

It is a hard time to be an atheist activist. This has affected us. And it has affected our community...

...it has really affected us. We are suffering a level of defeatism that I have never seen before...

We feel the loss. And we feel like we have lost. We feel like we lost the election]]... We see this cascade of attack coming down at us over and over from all different directions and we feel like it's over. I have heard so many times it makes me sick. It makes me sad. It feels like we lost.

The apathy that follows. It doesn't matter. We can't win anyways. It's useless to fight. This apathy is infecting us. It's hurting us.

And people are reacting to each other now. And so that is causing a division. Lots and lots of division in our movement. Hard, bad division... And that has resulted in a splintering and factioning of the movement that I have never seen before and none of us have.

In other words, we're in a bad situation and it's getting worse.[9]

Later in 2018, Silverman was fired due to allegations of financial conflicts and sexual assault (see also: Atheism and sexism).[10]

In January 2017, the atheist and secular leftist PZ Myers said about Donald Trump's presidential victory:

This span of time representing the agonizing death of American idealism, decline of liberalism, and collapse into corruption has played out as the background of my life.

That’s depressing. History is not going to remember me, but I managed to live through a terrible period that will be remembered, unpleasantly. It would be nice to go out on a note of optimism, but that’s probably not going to happen.[11]

See also: Decline of the atheist movement

"America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer." - President Donald Trump[12]

The Religion News Service reported:

For the last decade, atheists, humanists and others secularists have worked hard to organize a “secular vote” that would counter the political clout of the religious right.

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s victory dealt that movement a body blow when he garnered 81 percent of the white evangelical vote and 60 percent of the white Catholic vote. Mormons, too, voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

Despite Trump’s not being a particularly religious person, his platform was seen as anti-secular in many atheist and humanist circles. He said he would appoint religiously conservative Supreme Court justices, ban Muslim immigrants, favor Christianity and repeal the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits certain tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates — issues antithetical to organized atheism and humanism.[13]

The U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was appointed by Trump, is a judge who has ruled in favor of religious liberty in his past decisions.[14] U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was also nominated to the court by Trump, gave a favorable ruling in the Hobby Lobby case in respect to religious liberty.[15] See also: Morale of the atheist movement

Atheism and U.S. congressional politics[edit]

USA Today indicated in 2014:

Guess how many of the major-party candidates in next month's congressional elections are openly atheist. Hint: You can count them on one finger.

It tells you something that in a time when "no religion" is the category of roughly 20% of Americans, virtually none of the hundreds of Democrats and Republicans vying for congressional seats identify as a religious "none."

.... atheism and related forms of non-belief are about the worst thing a candidate can be associated with.[16]

Obama administration met with an atheist group[edit]

The Obama administration is the first administration to met with an atheist group. It meet with the Secular Coalition for America which is a coalition which represents the American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, and the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

According to the USA Today, the group met with the White House officials to "discuss problems that they believe are fueled by religion."[17] Among the issues the group discussed were the issues of "military proselytizing" by evangelical Christian members of the military and faith-based initiatives[18]

When first running for office Barack Obama angered religious conservatives with his comment about working-class voters in old industrial towns. Obama said, "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."[19]

The Obama administration has been widely criticized for his policies which encroach on religious freedom in areas such as: health care, freedom to dissent on matters relating to the homosexual agenda, religious freedom in the military and religious freedom in other spheres of American life.[20]

Bernie Sanders' reluctance to call himself an atheist[edit]

Bernie Sanders is reluctant to publicly call himself an atheist.[21]

See also: Closet atheist

Jon Green wrote about Bernie Sanders:

Bernie Sanders is, as he’s suggested before, Jewish with an emphasis on the ish. His Jewish heritage has informed his morality and his politics, but he doesn’t claim to be observant in any officially religious sense.

In an interview with the Washington Post published this morning, Sanders went a step further, making that point as clearly as he ever:

“I am not actively involved with organized religion,” Sanders said in a recent interview.
Sanders said he believes in God, though not necessarily in a traditional manner.
“I think everyone believes in God in their own ways, “ he said. “To me, it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together.”

As atheist blogger Hemant Mehta pointed out, that’s basically a really PC way of saying you’re an atheist. Sanders may have used the word “God” to describe his belief system, but it’s pretty clear that his version of God isn’t an old man in the sky. There’s no actual deity involved — no theism — just a generalized interconnectedness.[22]

The Religion News Service states: "Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders dashed the hopes of some atheists when he declared he had 'very strong religious and spiritual feelings' at a Democratic town hall."[23]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. 2013 Freedom of Thought by International Humanist and Ethical Union
  2. Hout, Michael; Smith, Tom (March 2015). "Fewer Americans Affiliate with Organized Religions, Belief and Practice Unchanged: Key Findings from the 2014 General Social Survey" (PDF). General Social Survey. NORC
  3. Hout, Michael; Smith, Tom (March 2015). "Fewer Americans Affiliate with Organized Religions, Belief and Practice Unchanged: Key Findings from the 2014 General Social Survey" (PDF). General Social Survey. NORC
  4. Atheism is Rising, But…, American Interest
  5. Facts about atheists
  6. Atheists, Muslims See Most Bias as Presidential Candidates, Gallup organization
  7. The Shocking Intolerance of Anti-Trump Liberals by Katrina Trinko, November 10, 2016, The Daily Signal
  8. The Crazy Left’s 4-Step Strategy To Ensure Trump’s Re-Election In 2020, By Daniel Payne JANUARY 20, 2017, The Federalist
  9. David Silverman - How the Mighty Get Back Up
  10. This Firebrand Atheist Was Just Fired After Allegations Of Financial Conflicts And Sexual Assault
  11. [Stop tolerating the intolerable] by PZ Myers, January 2017
  12. President Donald J. Trump Stands Up For Religious Freedom In The United States, WhiteHouse.gov, May 3, 2018
  13. Dealt a body blow, atheists and humanists regroup by Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service, November 9, 2016
  14. These 6 Cases Show How Brett Kavanaugh Might Rule on Religious Freedom, Daily Signal, 2018
  15. Neil Gorsuch Has a Record of Protecting Religious Minorities, Time magazine, 2017
  16. Can atheists be elected? Column
  17. Atheists meet with White House officials, USA Today
  18. Atheists meet with White House officials, USA Today
  19. Obama angers midwest voters with guns and religion remark, The Guardian
  20. Bernie Sanders is mainstreaming atheism in American politics
  21. Bernie Sanders is mainstreaming atheism in American politics
  22. Bernie Sanders disappoints some atheists with his ‘very strong religious’ feelings, Religion News Service