i'm starting to see more articles like this lately. the author here makes a compelling case for Progressives to court the Atheist vote. while it seems that most Atheists trend towards Progressive ideals, it is unclear whether or not we are voting in the numbers that prove helpful. much of this has to do with a lack of organization and involvement. the good news is that this is changing.
and, from what this article says, our help is badly needed to counter the Religious Right. the author describes us as a potential cavalry of reinforcements in the Culture Wars. and i think she's right. someone, though, needs to actively seek us out. we know it won't be the Conservatives, so it's up to some Progressive (ideally the Democratic Party) to directly ask for our support.
my question is whether it would be political suicide for the Democrats to openly ask for support from Atheists the way they do with African Americans, Hispanics, Women, and the LGBT community?
Why? Because we're still pariahs to the believing community at large, THAT'S WHY! Hell, some of us are even conservative (though I am not), so it's not as though atheists represent a monolithic political block, either.
Sadly, Max Planck had it right: the hard-core god-botherers will have to die off and those of a more open and progressive mindset take the reins before any political campaign will consider atheists as allies of any stripe.
"it's not as though atheists represent a monolithic political block"
true, but as this article points out, we tend to support Progressive ideals. we're more pro-choice than women for Christ's sake!
It's true that we are not a monolithic political block. Then again, neither are Christians. Yes, the hierarchy and administration of the Catholic Church is an arch-conservative, right wing, monolithic entity. But not all Catholics are conservatives. Hell, just look at the nuns that are in a minor revolt and bucking the Vatican, along with them calling Paul Ryan's right wing budgetary proposal immoral.
The author also mentions the left leaning United Church of Christ. To that, I would add the Episcopal Church, that ordained Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop. I know a court reporter from work who is a Catholic, and is as liberal as you get. Her boss is Nazarene (a real stick in the mud personality), yet votes primarily democratic.
Because someone states they are a Christian or adheres to Christianity does not automatically equate with the tambourine banging, arm waving, snake handling, wrap yourself in a flag and carry a cross, bible, and .30 caliber rifle version of that particular superstition.
If the liberal/progressive political movement made an outreach to atheists, I think the payoff would be tremendous for both sides. Is every atheist going to jump on the bandwagon? Of course not. As Loren correctly points out, there are a number of conservative atheists. There's even a group for conservative atheists here on A|N. I think where the payoff would come would be 1) a recognition that we are citizens whose opinions count and 2) if the votes are there for those who court us (and may very well be) suddenly the other side would sit up, take notice, and try to court us also, which would necessarily mean toning down the "Rapture is Nigh" nonsense.
Mitt Romney spoke to the NAACP convention. I'd love to see him, or someone of his stature in his party, and someone of his stature on the other side, make an address to the American Atheist Convention. They'll never show up, though, unless we make our voice heard politically. After all, in this country, it's not really about principles. It's about votes.
i think you nailed it Pat.
A few reasons, first off, I do not think there are as many atheists as we all like to believe. That is number 1.
Next, candidates that pander to the atheist vote will cost them many others. Hispanic and African American communities are progressive strongholds but are also quite religious.
Then is there is a large amount of spiritual hoo-doo-ism on the left. I'm thinking about the Hollywood types who have their own brand of higher power nonsense but do not call it jesus. It is the same brand of BS only by a different name.
I am a super lefty in Massachusetts and the only atheist I know! I'm surrounded by hard right born-again fundamentalists and the people who are left leaning like me still believe in "something". If you are a fan of South Park, you might see that progressives view us as a sect diametrically opposed to but just-as-crazy-in-their-own-right as the Fundy's! The episode with Richard Dawkins plowing away at Mr. Garrison illustrated this point pretty clearly.
On the left there is a real attitude of “Why can’t you atheist just leave people alone and let them believe what they want?”
I am all for religious tolerance, anyone is free to believe whatever nonsense they like. However, when that belief is responsible for laws, like no stem cell research, gay people can not get married, equal time for ID/creationism… well then we have a problem.
It is our own fault that we do not make better arguments. Anyone recall the Atheist banner at the SuperBowl? Or all those Billboards? These campaigns are embarrassing and make atheist look every bit as childish.
@ Robert Bowlin glad to see a fellow Baystater posting!
I did not mean to imply our strategy should be to “lay low”. We are getting our asses kicked and kicked hard! And we should fight back and fight back harder! A plane flying a banner about Odin and Zeus is helpful? Yes, if this was the 1948 Jersey Shore Boardwalk, but holy shit if we have access to a time let’s put it to more effective use. Stop the Khmer Rouge, prevent 9/11*, the OKC bombing, bring a JFK mask and seduce Marilyn Monroe in her hey day…
Take a walk through Texas and see all the mega-Churches, every single one of them filled with Anti-Science Young Earth creationists. Reagan and George W, were young Earth creationists/fundamentalists, several recent speakers of the House have been as well. Atheists have had one minor rep in my entire life (almost 40 years!). Until we recognize this disparity and do something about it, we are simply deluding ourselves.
As an atheist, it is easy to crow about the facts being on our side and that the truth will exonerate our point over time as evidence accumulates each day from so many branches of science and medicine and archaeology that prove that the gods of the ancient world are figments, and poor ones at that.
However, atheist, even the most prominent ones, fail to realize what makes religion so compelling. We are wired to see patterns and stories: Beginning, Middle, Ending. Good Guy vs. Bad Guy, these are the memes that stick with us, that feel right and that get accepted, repeated and passed on.
I love Hitch, I love Dawkins, I love Sam Harris and PZ Myers, but Christ on a pony, if your solution is “read more books” to a country on the brink of patenting a 64 oz Big Gulp cup holder for the toilet, well you aren’t just barking up the wrong tree, you are trying to impregnate that tree as it withers and dies while a forest of idiots has grown up around you.
*and 9/11 Truthers, jumping jehovah that is killing two birds with one stone. Damn it, I would be awesome with a time machine. Awesome, I tell you.
I think there's a huge number of people who say they are christian who mean it more in a cultural sense than a spiritual one. They say they believe in God the same way they believe in apple pie and Uncle Sam, but otherwise lead an irreligious life.
You know, there's that talk about how more atheists will come out once there's a certain threshold of public and common (rather than famous) everyday atheists, similar to what's happened in the gay community. I would not be surprised if a second wave of atheists develops when it's no longer patriotic or at least culturally significant to be christian.
My brother claims to be an agnostic, but he won't say "atheist" because we were brought up in a christian home. He also seemed to like the idea of a deity of some sort, but I know many of us who have been brought up with god-culture have the worst time letting go of that basic meme. It's like a security blanket. When enough of us see that there's no need for the blanket anymore, we'll give it up.