The Washington Post‘s new “Acts of Faith” section has the rundown of whether we’ll see an (openly) atheist President anytime soon. (Spoiler: HA!)
It appears that an overt atheist would have more difficulty being elected than Barack Obama did in becoming the nation’s first black chief executive or a woman or gay candidate would have in winning the White House. In numerous surveys, at least half of Americans state that they would not vote for an atheist. While the numbers of those who declare that they would not vote for an atheist have declined in the new millennium, a 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that Americans are less likely to vote for an atheist than any other type of candidate, including ones who have never held office, have had extramarital affairs, are in their 70s or are gay.
Being identified as an atheist in the United States today is still such a major political liability that a candidate holding this position probably could not gain a major party’s nomination for president or even the Senate. Only eight members of the current Congress declined to indicate their religious affiliation, and only one of them, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) identifies herself as religiously unaffiliated.
(There’s also a section about what President George H. W. Bush once said about atheists that, you should know, has never been confirmed by an independent source.)
But the article corroborates what we’ve known for a while. No matter the change in demographics, atheists are still considered unelectable and untrustworthy. The best chance we have of an atheist getting elected to high political office is for a candidate to keep it under wraps, then come out after the elections.
That’s disappointing, but it makes sense when those on the other side of the theological spectrum feel comfortable announcing their presidential candidacies at fundamentalist Christian schools.
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