This is a guest post written by David G. McAfee. He is author, most recently, of The Book of Gods.
An atheist professor, author, and scholar of religion is supporting Donald Trump for President of the United States, making him one of the 23% of Religiously Unaffiliated Americans (only a fraction of which are atheists) to choose the billionaire real estate magnate over Hillary Clinton.
Robert M. Price (a.k.a. The Bible Geek) recently announced that he will be voting for The Donald in the upcoming presidential election, calling the potential leader a “ray of hope.” In fact, he went so far as to say “I love Trump!” and that he may make phone calls on his behalf.
This isn’t the first time that Price, a politically conservative Jesus mythicist and author of The Case Against “The Case for Christ” and numerous other books, has shaken the foundation of the traditional notion that atheist = liberal. He also said years ago that he would vote for George W. Bush (again) and that he is looking forward to voting for former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin for President.
I interviewed Price in 2010, so I thought now would be a good time to check in with him again and ask some questions about the current election.
(Note from Hemant: To state the obvious, the views expressed by Price are not my own. I’m publishing this because I don’t believe we can or should ignore these opinions, especially when they come from someone well-known in our own community. Better to understand what he’s saying and respond than to pretend like the belief doesn’t exist.)
MCAFEE: Are you a registered Republican? Have you always been on the conservative side of the political spectrum?
PRICE: I am indeed registered as a Republican, though I haven’t always been. I voted for Nixon in 1972, Carter in ’76, Reagan in ’80 and ’84, Bush in ’88, Perot in ’92, Nader in ’96, Bush in 2000 and 2004, McCain in 2008, and Romney in 2012. Under the influence of Jim Wallis and the “Young Evangelicals” in the 70s, I moved leftward. But Carter’s fiascoes made me want Reagan, and I became a conservative.
MCAFEE: What first drew you to Trump as a presidential candidate? Did you support him in the primaries?
PRICE: My first choice was Mike Huckabee, a brilliant and articulate conservative. Southern Baptist? So what? So were Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton. I do not, like some, impose an anti-religious test for office.
When Trump took the spotlight, I decided I liked him even better. I like his bold and sweeping plans to undo as much as possible of the ruination visited on our country by Obama and Clinton with their Political Correctness (which I call “the Sharia of the Left”), their eroding of traditional values, their inhumane advocacy of abortion, their “world citizen” Globalism, their blind eye to Islamism, etc.
MCAFEE: What would you say to someone who alleges Trump lacks the temperament/self-control to lead the country?
PRICE: I don’t buy it. He has what we need in a President in these times: He is tough. He has much negotiating experience, unlike the fools who gave away the store to Iran and its anti-Semitic, saber-rattling Mullahs. Trump’s “counter-punching” style is certainly better than the spineless cheek-turning posture of the present administration.
MCAFEE: Which of Trump’s policy plans are you most excited about?
PRICE: I second the suggestion of my favorite Liberal, Bob Beckel, that we declare a temporary moratorium on Muslim immigration. (Oh yes! Trump advocates that, too, doesn’t he?)
I cannot believe the bleeding-heart naiveté of those who charge Trump with religious bigotry, as if this were not an emergency situation. And the wall. I love the wall. And unlimbering the hyper-regulated economy.
MCAFEE: What are your thoughts on the other candidates: Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein?
PRICE: Hillary Clinton is a pathological liar and a felon. Instead of making real proposals to fix our problems, she says there’s nothing wrong and wants to continue the same destructive policies. I used to say that Bill Clinton made Nixon look like Mother Teresa. Then I said that Obama made Clinton look like Mother Teresa. Now I say Hillary makes Obama look like Mother Teresa.
Gary Johnson appears to be both a pretend Libertarian and a confused goof.
Stein is living in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
MCAFEE: Do you think Trump is a Christian, as he professes to be?
PRICE: I have to assume he is a believing Christian, though not a pious evangelical. You can see that from the way he denominates himself “a Protestant.” That’s so generic, it’s not what an enthusiastic church member would say. By the way, when he referred to “Two Corinthians,” he may have been showing a lack of familiarity with the Bible, but on the other hand that is actually the way many professional Bible scholars refer to that epistle.MCAFEE: What are your thoughts on Trump’s claim that he will be “the greatest representative of the Christians”?
PRICE: No reason to doubt it. I think he means he will stand up against the infringement of religious liberty: criminalizing a baker’s refusal to bake a cake for a Gay wedding (though I personally am not against Gay marriage), the many attempts to remove historic religious trappings from public places, etc. And he’s right to advocate against this secularist scorched earth agenda.
MCAFEE: One of the issues many atheists have with Trump is that he has no respect for basic church/state separation. He wants to eliminate the Johnson Amendment, allowing churches to endorse candidates from the pulpit. He is thoroughly influenced by the Religious Right, which wants to put into place policies based on their faith instead of evidence. He wants to put people on the Supreme Court who, if given the chance, would overturn abortion rights, gay rights, etc. Do these things not matter to you?
PRICE: First of all, I think the doctrine of church-state separation has been redefined to mean that religion must be scrubbed from the public square. This is a suppression of religious freedom. Trump is right to oppose it. I would love to see this Stalinist “Freedom from Religion” bunk repealed. I have even known some secularists to advocate an “It Takes a Gulag” policy of declaring religious education of children by their parents as “child abuse.”
As for abortion, it is a crime against humanity. How can anyone claim the name “humanist” and be pro-abortion? Beats me. I’d love to see Roe v. Wade repealed. “Evidence-based policy” is the last thing Progressives really want.
Gay Rights? I’m all for them. What I don’t accept is the libel that no one can deem homosexuality as immoral (an opinion I do not hold) without being a “homophobic” bigot. I’d love to see the Supreme Court toss out policies based on that distortion.
All told, a Liberal Supreme Court will only continue to make the exception into the rule and further foster societal chaos.
MCAFEE: What do you have to say about the traditional correlation between atheists and liberal political ideologies? Why do you think that link exists?
PRICE: Frankly, I am utterly baffled! If they were willing to use the same cleared-eyed skepticism they rightly aim at religion, they would never blithely embrace the evidence-proof, make-believe fantasies of “Progressivism.”
For them, Leftist politics has become a religious faith. I call it “political snake-handling.” They advocate sentiment-fueled policies with no sober thought for the real-world consequences. “Oh, it’s nice to welcome refugees!” Yeah, that’s what [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel “thought,” and look at the results. I say, snap out of it! Are you living in the real world or not? Freud defined religion as the projection of the wish-world onto the real world. That’s Liberalism.
MCAFEE: You’re in the business of convincing people to accept unpopular opinions. (Your books, after all, say that Jesus didn’t even exist.) How would you convince atheists to accept the idea that Trump is the better candidate for them?
PRICE: I wouldn’t bother. The unbelievable hostility and name-calling I get on Fascistbook (and will undoubtedly receive for this interview) only serve to confirm my opinion that Progressivism is a self-sealing faith commitment heedless of evidence. I have more cordial dialogue with religious fundamentalists.
MCAFEE: What would it take to change your mind?
PRICE: Nothing I can think of before the election. I could of course be mistaken, but it would take the failure of Trump’s policies to convince me I backed the wrong horse. I already know that Hillary’s policies have failed.
MCAFEE: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
PRICE: Though I take it as self-evident that women are at least the equals of men, I cannot claim the label “feminist” because the self-appointed copyright holders insist you have to be pro-abortion to qualify. Now I’m beginning to think twice about saying I’m an “atheist,” since, in order to be a member in good standing, it seems you have to be a Liberal Democrat. Maybe I should switch to “Freethinker.” Because many of our atheists don’t seem to relish free thought anymore.
David G. McAfee is a Religious Studies graduate, journalist, and author of The Book of Gods, The Belief Book, Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-believer, and Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings. He is also a frequent contributor to American Atheist Magazine. McAfee, who writes about science, skepticism, and faith, attended University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in English and Religious Studies with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions.