Non-Christians Feel Ignored During Elections

An article by Ed Stoddard on the Reuters wire talks about non-Christians and how they feel excluded in the election process.

Despite the constitutional separation of church and state, religion plays a big and sometimes decisive role in politics in America, where levels of belief and regular worship are far higher than those in Europe.

“Non-Christians are concerned that they will be excluded from the process,” said Ahmed Rehab, a spokesman with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“I welcome faith values if they inspire candidates to do good things. But I worry if it is used as a litmus test to include someone in political participation.”

Non-religious people are also mentioned in the piece:

Political professions of faith leave some unmoved.

“Why is that relevant? Who cares? The great issue is where do we stand on Medicare and Social Security and immigration … Why inject religiosity into that?” asked Paul Kurtz, chairman of the Council for Secular Humanism.

“Are we (secular humanists and atheists) marginalized? No. Are we turned off? Yes!”

Atheists and agnostics have long been targets of the religious right who see moral decay in secularization.

Some critics say those without a religion were singled out in the speech by Romney in which he sought to ease concerns among Republican evangelicals about his Mormon faith.

He said “freedom requires religion” — implying that it could not exist without it — and criticized those who “seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God … It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong.”

A Pew Research Center survey last year found that 63 percent of those polled said they would be “less likely” to support a presidential candidate who did not believe in God

But as an unorganized mass of non-theistic people, we do have an incredible amount of potential power to influence the elections:

… those who say they are “unaffiliated” or atheist are very keen to cast their ballots. Pew data shows that 82 percent of them are very or somewhat likely to vote. At 90 percent, evangelicals are the only group more likely to vote.

I would guess (am I wrong?) that more religious people are likely to vote for a Democrat than non-religious people are likely to vote for a Republican.

Which bodes well for Barack Obama. Since he’s going to win. Because he’s awesome.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Mriana

    Obama is awesome and you should see me when I make phone calls or go door to door for him. I can’t sit or stand still due to so much enthusiasm for him. This is the first election in my life in which I have been so excited about. The rest I have not participated in, in any capacity. This one I have been gunho for in anticipation of the possibilities of what it may mean IF Obama wins. I don’t freeze my butt of for just any man. He has to be pretty damn special for me to do that, and I think Obama is special. I believe what he says is not just politics, but also from his heart.

  • tarrkid

    I would guess (am I wrong?) that more religious people are likely to vote for a Democrat than non-religious people are likely to vote for a Republican.

    Well, you may be right about it being more likely, but I am a counter-example, just to show that we do exist. I am an atheist, and I will be voting for McCain or Romney or Huckabee, whoever the GOP nominee is. While I do not agree with their religious convictions, I am a fiscal conservative, and I think that their plans for my money, the war, and many other things are far more in line with my beliefs as to how this country should be run.

    If that means that we have a president who believes in God, so be it. If anything, I’d like to see the GOP distance itself from the religious right, but I know that is a major part of its power base.

  • Mriana

    He brings tears to my eyes when I hear him talk about “My daddy left me when I was two. I had to have hope. I got into trouble when I was a teenager. I had to have hope.” Then he talks about being raised by a single mother without much money, but his birth right was one of hope. He reminds me so much of my sons and what they could do in the future. He is the grown version of what I hope my sons could be in their futures. I love Obama, because he is the true example of what humans can acheive regardless of their life circumstances. There is no false hope, just hope, IMO, and I think even Obama said that too.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I would guess (am I wrong?) that more religious people are likely to vote for a Democrat than non-religious people are likely to vote for a Republican.

    No, you’re not wrong. Nearly 30% of evangelicals voted Democrat in 2006 and that’s not even counting liberal and moderate Christians who are much more likely to vote Democrat.

  • Maria

    This article really sums up how I feel. The primaries are coming here next Tuesday. I’m voting for Obama

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Politics is a complex subject and you will find atheists on both sides of the spectrum just like you will find Christians on both sides of the spectrum. Americans seem to have an aversion to seeing the same “team” continue to will all the time so its probably the democrats “turn” this time. I am a bit nervous about the supreme court being stacked with conservatives… that’s another reason for the democrats. I predict either Obama or Clinton. My preference is Obama. If McCain ends up winning, I won’t loose too much sleep. If Romney wins, it will be interesting… I guess it will depend on which Romney shows up to work. As for Huckabee, I like the constitution just the way it is. Thank you. As for Ron Paul, I respect him challenging the republicans on the war, but I’m nervous about cutting the role of government in line with the libertarian ideals.

    Interestingly, I personally know “die in the wool republicans” who are VERY against McCain because they think he is not a “true republican”. I also personally know evangelical fundamentalists who are VERY against Romney because they think he is not a “true Christian”. That doesn’t bode well for the republicans this time around.

  • Rovakur

    Good article. As a secular humanist/atheist, I do feel marginalized, though. Now I’m moving away from the article, but sticking to politics…

    I’m an Obamanator. He possesses comparatively more intelligence and openmindedness than the other candidates; he’ll take care of the country as a whole and take strides improving our foreign relations. I think he stands a good chance of winning. My (albeit biased) disclaimer is never underestimate the abilities of stupid people in large numbers.

    [snip] . . . I will be voting for McCain or Romney or Huckabee, whoever the GOP nominee is. While I do not agree with their religious convictions, I am a fiscal conservative, and I think that their plans for my money, the war, and many other things are far more in line with my beliefs as to how this country should be run. [emphasis added]

    Nothing against Tarrkid specifically, but this is the kind of thing that feeds my opinion that republicans have an overwhelming tendency towards greed and making the affluent even wealthier while keeping the lower classes down and out. Given that the conservative wing is (generally) so religious, where’s the altruism? Where are the republicans actively involved in fighting poverty and working to raise standards of living?

    I think McCain is the only republican with the slightest chance of winning. (Note the incessant criticism from extreme conservatives about how moderate he is, though.) Romney… I see him as having little or no chance. He’s religious, but morman. Many may overlook that, yes, but even if enough conservative voters do, I don’t see him picking up much of the independent/swing vote. I wonder how much of the population knows that Romney (as a mormon) believes that Jesus will reappear on a specific hilltop in Missouri. Huckabee has essentially no vote outside of evangelicals. He proposed eliminating the income tax and replacing it with a flat 23% tax on all purchases, which has its pros and cons. The biggest con in my opinion is this. The less items cost, the less tax will be paid, thus motivating people to buy from the cheapest source: Wal-Mart. (Where are WM and Huckabee from? Arkansas. Can you say conflict of interest?) Thus, small businesses (and perhaps even many chains) will be forced out of business.

    Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. –Plato

  • Rebekah

    Nothing against Tarrkid specifically, but this is the kind of thing that feeds my opinion that republicans have an overwhelming tendency towards greed and making the affluent even wealthier while keeping the lower classes down and out. Given that the conservative wing is (generally) so religious, where’s the altruism? Where are the republicans actively involved in fighting poverty and working to raise standards of living?

    I think McCain is the only republican with the slightest chance of winning. (Note the incessant criticism from extreme conservatives about how moderate he is, though.) Romney… I see him as having little or no chance. He’s religious, but morman. Many may overlook that, yes, but even if enough conservative voters do, I don’t see him picking up much of the independent/swing vote. I wonder how much of the population knows that Romney (as a mormon) believes that Jesus will reappear on a specific hilltop in Missouri. Huckabee has essentially no vote outside of evangelicals. He proposed eliminating the income tax and replacing it with a flat 23% tax on all purchases, which has its pros and cons. The biggest con in my opinion is this. The less items cost, the less tax will be paid, thus motivating people to buy from the cheapest source: Wal-Mart. (Where are WM and Huckabee from? Arkansas. Can you say conflict of interest?) Thus, small businesses (and perhaps even many chains) will be forced out of business.

    You make excellent points. However, I have to stand up for some of my affulent, Christian Republican/Moderate friends who give (from what I’ve witnessed) about 20% of their earnings to charities every year… without them a lot of “lower class” families in my area would not have transportation, after school programs, basic living appliances, or food. To generalize that all Republicans are greedy or that because they make more money (they don’t) keeps lower classes down is unfair. Also, most members of churches in my town (about 60,000 members) are mostly Republican and they are responsible for keeping non-government charities, including secular ones such as art centers for underprivileged kids, alive.

  • Rebekah

    affluent*

  • Aj

    I think if secularists were to play a little harder to get then Obama might shift to more favourable positions.

  • tarrkid

    Rebekah hit it on the head…

    I specifically used the phrase “my money”. Because to me, that’s what it is. I worked for it, I earned it, and I will choose to be altruistic in whatever way I want, and that is how many republicans feel.

    I don’t feel it’s the government’s place to take my money (there it is again!) and put it towards things that are generally better served in the private sector. Churches and other charities do a far better job of tending to the homeless and the needy than the government does.

    To me, the irony of it all is that were the government to get out of the business of welfare and handouts and the like, those who ARE inclined to give would have so much more with which to give.

    But it comes back to an essential difference between the left and the right… The left feels that the government should be in charge of how the needy are helped, and the right feels that the government should stay far away from that.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Churches and other charities do a far better job of tending to the homeless and the needy than the government does.

    And yet charities cannot provide consistent and equal coverage to all needy people across the board. I believe in equal access to help for all people in need, not just for those who happen to live near decent charities.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Given that the conservative wing is (generally) so religious, where’s the altruism? Where are the republicans actively involved in fighting poverty and working to raise standards of living?

    Good question. Sadly about 100 years ago the conservative church got into a theological fight with the liberal church, and since the liberals were the ones saying that the gospel was primarily about compassion and social justice, the conservatives decided that anything any remotely resembling that message ought to be avoided. Of course, not all conservatives followed suit, and many do still engage in many forms of charity. However enough did that a century later there are still many conservatives who think that helping the poor or seeking justice for the oppressed is only a “liberal” thing. It’s tragic really.

  • Arlen

    When tarrkid talks about the government being responsible with his money, is he talking about the super-massive debt run up by Reagan, the tax increases by Bush I, the even-more-massive debt increase and government expansion under Bush II, or the moderate taxes, low inflation, and balanced budget under Clinton? I sometimes get confused.

  • Rovakur

    Tarrkid and Rebekah, you make some good points. I tried to be clear that I wasn’t coming down on you, but rather that regardless of your meaning, your comment got my mind going. (I think I conveyed that relatively well, since you were constructively critical and didn’t go after me. I wish I’d been more clear, though, that I pretty much had only the officials in D.C. in mind. It’s too easy to overlook things like that…perhaps I need an editor :) )

    Yes, there are quite a few altruists/philanthropists across the political spectrum. (For example, I wasn’t sure what to think when Schwarzenegger was elected, but I think he’s been a good leader, not to mention he’s working for free.) I know this is my bias, but certain things weigh heavy on my mind regarding the republican party, with the end result of the bad outweighing the good. (The fact that the media doesn’t give extended/repetitive coverage of “good” in politics doesn’t help, either.) (Is it obvious that I use “bias” to constructively criticize myself, or does it sound like I’m ripping on myself? :) )

    Unfortunately I have to get to work…so I have to cut myself off now. Take care. :)

  • stogoe

    When tarrkid talks about the government being responsible with his money, is he talking about the super-massive debt run up by Reagan, the tax increases by Bush I, the even-more-massive debt increase and government expansion under Bush II, or the moderate taxes, low inflation, and balanced budget under Clinton? I sometimes get confused.

    I believe the correct term for this is PWNED.

  • Karen

    However enough did that a century later there are still many conservatives who think that helping the poor or seeking justice for the oppressed is only a “liberal” thing.

    Not only that, but a lot of them in the past 20-30 years bought into the extreme version of the conservatives’ “personal responsibility” argument, and they fear that any kind of charity for the poor encourages laziness, drunkenness and immorality.

    I was involved in community outreach in conservative evangelical churches and there was always substantial opposition to our movement on these ideological grounds. Most of the very conservative people in the congregations didn’t approve of what we were doing. Others thought it was a waste of resources that should have been used instead for international missionary work and local evangelism, because spreading the gospel was our highest priority.

  • tarrkid

    I believe the correct term for this is PWNED.

    Only until you grow up, stogoe…

  • tarrkid

    When tarrkid talks about the government being responsible with his money, is he talking about the super-massive debt run up by Reagan, the tax increases by Bush I, the even-more-massive debt increase and government expansion under Bush II, or the moderate taxes, low inflation, and balanced budget under Clinton? I sometimes get confused.

    Well, let’s not kid ourselves – we both know that these sorts of things are the fault of both the presidents and the congresses. And don’t worry, I’m not going to sit hear and spout one-sided statistics about how you’re wrong and I’m right, so nya-nya-nya-nya-nya, because you’d come back with one-sided statistics to prove the reverse. Statistics get us nowhere.

    When I said I liked the GOP’s plans for my money, that’s exactly what I meant… That’s not to say they’ve been perfect in the past, or that they will be in the future, but it comes down to this…

    I believe the GOP will do what is right, even if it is unpopular. I believe the Democrats will do what makes them (and their voter base) feel good, not what is right in the long term…

    Examples:

    Raising minimum wage – makes everyone feel good that they are so compassionate, but it’s a bad idea long term – raising the minimum wage contributes to inflation and lost jobs.

    Universal health care – makes everyone feel good that they are so compassionate, but again, it’s a bad idea long term – without the free market in place, there is no incentive to innovate and be the best. People come here from countries with socialized medicine because the free market makes ours the best.

    Those are just a couple examples – I’m really not hoping to get into a big ideological battle here on this, but the examples of why I feel this way are numerous.


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