GOP Needs Less GOD

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker (who once incorrectly stated that “there are no atheists in foxholes“) is making the case that the Republican Party needs less religion:

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party…

She’s not arguing that religion needs to be ignored. But the GOP needs to reach out and become more accessible to a larger base:

… it isn’t necessary to evict the Creator from the public square, surrender Judeo-Christian values or diminish the value of faith in America. Belief in something greater than oneself has much to recommend it, including most of the world’s architectural treasures, our universities and even our founding documents.

But, like it or not, we are a diverse nation, no longer predominantly white and Christian. The change Barack Obama promised has already occurred, which is why he won.

I don’t see how it would work. While there are many Christians who are Democrats, the Conservative Christians aren’t going anywhere else right now. And many of their values and beliefs are completely abhorrent to people with… well… better judgment. Unless the Republicans can distance themselves from the Religious Right, they’re not going to win a majority of elections anytime in the foreseeable future.

Of course, the Republicans could also stop promoting awful policies… that might help.

Are there any atheist Republicans out there?

What reason(s) do you have for supporting their platform?

  • http://arkonbey.blogspot.com arkonbey

    Armband religion

    What a wonderful, subtle and terrifying phrase.

  • Brooks

    Didn’t the evangelical Christians say earlier this year that they were going to be less political? Wasn’t that whole evangelical manifesto about that? But then they contradicted themselves and proved they were lying with Sarah Palin. I won’t believe the GOP’s claims about backing out of religion until I see it in action. But why is it that they think we only need less God?

    What’s their definition of “less?” What’s wrong with getting rid of God in any politics? Doesn’t the bible even say Christians are supposed to keep religion out of politics, period (Titus 3:9)? So, instead of America being a nation of Judea-Christian values, are they saying they want America to be a nation of faith even though it’s supposed to be a secular government?

  • penn

    If I could concern troll for a bit, I think the GOP needs to quit pandering so much to the religious right. Palin was an awful pick because despite their objections, the religious right was going to come home and vote against Obama anyway. It was completely unnecessary, I think even choosing someone whose pro-choice like Lieberman or Ridge wouldn’t have turned many off. What choice did they have? Vote for the secret Muslim, who has the most liberal and anti-life voting record EVER!? No way.

    They also need to find a way to speak to non-whites and non-Christians. They got crushed in those categories, and the demographic trends are clear. The proportion of white Christians is shrinking, and party that only speaks to white Christians doesn’t have much hope in the coming decades.

  • Tarrkid

    To be completely honest, I tried conservatism on for size. There were (are) certain aspects of it that I find preferable to liberal views.

    I was trying to figure out if there was room in the GOP for an atheist.

    The prevalence of religion in the GOP, though, was a little off-putting, but it wasn’t enough to put me off entirely.

    But when it came time to choose who to vote for a few weeks back, I couldn’t bear to vote for people who so completely ignore –and suppress– science and reason.

    …Who use the common-man form of the word “theory” when talking about evolution, as if it’s some kind of crazy left-wing idea that has lots of reasonable doubt in it.

    …Who insist that at the moment of conception something magical has happened and that the life growing is more important than the teenage mother who’s life is about to be ruined.

    I could go on…

    Let’s just say I’m “cured” now.

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com/ Transplanted Lawyer

    I’m registered Republican and have been most of my life. I’m that way because I believe in free markets, free people, a strong military, and fiscal responsibility.

    George W. Bush threw three out of those four principles out the window and a bunch of kool-aid drinkers have been cheering the President on while he did it. As an American and as a Republican, I’ve been disgusted by this.

    I’ve been arguing at my blog for a long time that George W. Bush should not be considered a “conservative” in the classic definition of that term — the only thing he’s actually conservative on are social issues, which don’t fit very well into the Republican Party’s natural governing platform — or at least, not the Republican Party of the 1980′s, which is what I grew up with.

    I’ve also been arguing for some time that the Republican party needs to “reboot” — rethink what it stands for and what kind of government it’s going to offer the people, from the ground up. After George W. Bush, Republicans will only win elections if either 1) Democrats really screw things up, or 2) Republicans are able to put together a plan to provide better government and better-balanced budgets than Democrats can. We can’t wait for Democrats to screw things up and it’s irresponsible to hope they do. So our only option is to offer a better product.

    We Republicans are not all Bible-thumping theocrats and the GOP’s recent reliance on that wing of the party to realize electoral success has been the political equivalent of taking meth — it provides a temporary feeling of energy, but the long-term cost far exceeds the short-term benefits. I’m working towards, and a lot of Republicans are working towards, re-making the party into something that is both more palatable to the population in general and more focused on the things that really matter.

  • Erik

    Unfortunately, for every bit of god that the republicans give up, democrats of the past decade have been more than happy to take on those bits and more. It really came to a head with Joe Lieberman in 2000, who couldn’t say a sentence without invoking god during that election cycle. Ever since, the left has been trying to take back god for the democrats, and I don’t like it one bit.

  • penn

    I’m registered Republican and have been most of my life. I’m that way because I believe in free markets, free people, a strong military, and fiscal responsibility.

    This an absolute straw man. Show me a candidate of a major party for federal office who doesn’t believe in free markets, free people, a strong military or fiscal responsibility. Also, Democrats have been much stronger on fiscal responsibility for decades now. It was Reagan and H. W. Bush who blew up the national debt, and it was Clinton who brought it back down. Under W. it blew up again. These are old and tired arguments.

    I’ve been arguing at my blog for a long time that George W. Bush should not be considered a “conservative” in the classic definition of that term

    Ah, yes, conservatism cannot fail it can only be failed. It’s just like communism that way I guess. I don’t remember conservatives or Republicans in general complaining about how un-conservative Bush was when he was popular. In 2001-2005 he was their golden boy. He was a genius who could not fail, but now he was apparently never conservative to begin with.

  • penn

    One more thing, the Republicans are the party of “free people”? The anti-choice, anti-gay party is the party of free people? The party of illegal wiretapping and extraordinary rendition? The party that called an emergency session to keep Terri Schiavo on feeding tubes against her stated wishes and the wishes of her husband? The party built on the southern strategy of race baiting? The party of Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond? This is the party of “free people”? What a joke.

  • http://www.cognitivedissident.org cognitive dissident

    Penn, you beat me to it with those two comments…bravo!

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com/ Transplanted Lawyer

    Penn, I don’t disagree with you that Republicans have behaved terribly over the past several years, and prominent leaders of the party have behaved reprehensibly. I don’t know how to be any clearer than I was in saying that the party and in particular its leadership have betrayed basic principles underlying the things that could make the Republican Party a force for good, and that needs to change.

    Nor did I say that Democrats or anyone else were “against” free markets, free people, a strong military, or fiscal responsibility — and certainly in the case of Democrats, I don’t believe that they are against those things. Now, there are those people who see other priorities than these and in some cases rank different priorities higher. “Spreading the wealth” and “making health care a right for everyone” are examples of these. I understand that campaign rhetoric is what it is, and I’m adopting a “wait and see” approach to see what the new Administration actually does as opposed to what a candidate says.

    Yes, Republicans have abdicated what used to be the high ground of fiscal responsibility — and that traces back to Ronald Reagan, who only paid lip service to the idea because he prioritized a strong military higher than that. And Democrats have been smart to seize that high ground. Let us hope that the new President labors to keep that issue. If he does, he has it within his power to persuade this lawyer to switch his party affiliation. I’m skeptical but open-minded about what will happen in reality, which I suggest is a healthy attitude for people of all political beliefs to hold.

    In the meantime, I don’t deserve people jumping down my throat for responding to the question of the post, saying what I believe in, and working to stem the tide of theocracy within the GOP. If you want to do something productive, Penn, I suggest that you work to stop the nascent creep of theocracy within the Democratic party.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/sunclipse/ Blake Stacey

    … it isn’t necessary to evict the Creator from the public square, surrender Judeo-Christian values or diminish the value of faith in America. Belief in something greater than oneself has much to recommend it, including most of the world’s architectural treasures, our universities and even our founding documents.

    Equivocation on aisle 3!

    The Declaration of Independence, which makes specific references to a Creator endowing rights, is a document with cultural but not legal weight; the Constitution is thoroughly secular. One might justifiably say that respecting these documents, particularly the latter, involves “belief in something greater than oneself”, but that “something” would be the ideal of democracy, the principles of Enlightenment and liberty, and so forth. Likewise for the universities: the “something greater” at work there is the Great Conversation, the transmission of knowledge.

    None of these equate to “faith” by any reasonable definition of the word. They do not make a pedestal for the Creator to sit in the public square, nor do they support some uniquely “Judeo-Christian” values. “Judeo-Christian” is, at any rate, a hideous portmanteau which glosses over the very real history of Christian anti-Semitism and the factiousness of Christianity itself — it’s an adjective comparable to “Capitalist-Marxist”.

    Parker will be several steps closer to sense when she jettisons the tiresome pablum.

  • RobL

    It’s tough for conservative atheists right now. The Iraq war and the infiltration of the party by evangelical nuts forced me to vote for Obama this year. Only time I have ever voted for a democratic president. As I see it McKain/Pailn was an unbelievably horrible choice and Obama was just a horrible choice. Bush was an unmitigated disaster.

    I am trying to run a small non-union business in a state that has been run by the democrats for 20+ years. If you think the republicans are bad because they are beholden to big business the democrats are owned by big labor which is just as bad. I strongly supported the republican candidate for governor in this state simply because the democrats are killing small business here. I don’t worry that much about the economy, finding new customers, or finding employees, what I worry about is the democratic created mafia that runs most of the state agencies putting us out of business. Non-union employers are being targeted by the state because union money has gotten people elected and the payback is to fill all the state regulatory agencies with ex union business agents.

    If I were a teacher or fireman or retired or someone that didn’t have to deal with the mess the democratic party has created in this state then I probably would always vote democrat. I am pro choice, pro environment, pro gay marriage and pro many of the other platforms of the democratic party but above all of that I am pro keeping my family and the 65 families that rely on me to provide them with a job employed. Under the democratic leadership of this state I am finding it increasingly difficult to do that.

  • Ngeli

    Well, I am rather libertarian and not even American (I live in Germany), but I could have imagined voting republican. Why? Well, I am somewhat of a single-issue voter this year after having seen the markets going pear-shaped and I do not want them to take the economy and the state with them. I would trust the Democrats far more than the Republicans to repeat the failout.

  • Cathy

    Transplanted Lawyer, what makes you think Penn is a democrat? Maybe he’s a member of the socialist or communist parties which have pretty strong records of not supporting theocracy (and significantly better records on minority rights than either the republicans or democrats). Also, everything Penn mentioned was done by the Republican Party. It is reasonable to think a party supports what it has done and continues to do (some of which is even part of its platform).

  • Jamie G.

    Unless the Republicans can distance themselves from the Religious Right, they’re not going to win a majority of elections anytime in the foreseeable future.

    Uh…. the Religious Right still has a lot of sway and is still winning more elections for Republicans, maybe more on a local and state level, but they definitely are winning more elections.

    In my own state of Oklahoma the Republicans won the House and Senate, the first time since statehood. On most of the political ads, Democrat and Republican, the emphasis was on having “good Christian values”. In one political ad of Jim Inhofe, he slammed his competitor Andrew Rice as “being like Obama” and “Obama doesn’t think like Oklahomans”. McCain’s ads about Obama’s ties to Jeremiah Wright also ran heavy in our state.

    Don’t be naive, the Religious Right still have a strong base and I don’t imagine this changing until the Generation Xers and later gens get out stronger than the Baby Boomers. Obama won, but it wasn’t by a dramatic margin in the popular vote.

  • Gabriel

    It would appear that it is unlikely that the republican party is going to turn away from religion in the near term. For a short time immediatly following the election there seemed to be some question as to what the party would choose to do. I think the party has decided that it wasn’t conservative enough and will push even harder to the right. They will demonize non-white, non-fundamentalist/evangelical christians, scientists and other reality based thinkers and turn their backs to the real world.
    The republican party gave up on ethics, free markets and responsibility after Esienhower. They gave up on a strong military and the rule of law after Reagan. The only thing they have left is telling people what do to with their private lives, weakening protections for workers, reducing the protections for clean food, clean water, and safe medicine. Cut taxes for the uber-wealthy, cut education, cut research and development, cut science, cut veterans benefits, cut military preparedness, cut military active duty benefits and try to set up a two tier society. Tier one inherited wealth. Tier two their servants.

    But, the democrats could still screw things up and put the republicans back in power. If the republicans were to turn their backs on the religous right it could generate a third party of the ultra right wing, or they might all gather in compounds dotted across the landscape and set up seperate communities. We have seen that in the past also.

  • Miko

    As a libertarian (also known as classical liberalism, laissez-faire liberalism, or Jeffersonian Democrat; in all cases nothing to do with conservatism despite the assumptions of many), I don’t feel at home with the policies of either party. For example, Obama’s made some good noises about getting out of Iraq, but seems insistent on coupling them with going into Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia, and an ever expanding list of other nations. So, while the Republicans may be awful on antiwar issues, the Democrats are almost as bad. (To be fair, the loser the Libertarian Party ran this year was bad on antiwar among other things as well, leading to my vote for Obama as the least of three evils.) I can say basically the same think on most issues of importance to me. So, I’d say the best reason to vote Republican is the same as the best reason to vote Democratic with the names reversed: The Republicans aren’t Democrats. The Democrats aren’t Republicans.

    While the GOP definitely needs less god (Palin was perhaps the deciding factor me, although that was more about her incompetence than her religiosity), it needs a lot less of many other things as well, as do the Democrats. Both parties have become confused both on what government can do and on what it should do. As such, we have way too many people voting lesser-of-two-evils these days, not because they support their own party’s platform but because they oppose the platform of the other side.

    This an absolute straw man. Show me a candidate of a major party for federal office who doesn’t believe in free markets, free people, a strong military or fiscal responsibility.

    Obama is fairly terrible on free markets. Republicans are too, but they give token support at least, whereas Obama directly mocked free markets during the debates. More importantly, he’s against CAFTA. While I agree that a real free trade agreement would be about one sentence long, I think it’s clear that an Obama trade bill would be even further from true free trade.

    As for free people, I’m in 100% agreement with you. Social conservatism is the antithesis of liberty. Of course, Obama’s nascent plan for conscription of youth into involuntary servitude isn’t exact the bastion of freedom either; we’ll see how that plays out.

    As for strong military, I’ll again agree, sadly. The “strong” military we have is useful for imperialist meddling in the affairs of other nations, but not much else. One of the main lessons of Iraq is that science has progressed to the point where wars are no longer winnable (because amateurs can improvise explosives that destroy equipment that costs much much more). We should take this as a blessing, as it means both that we have much less to fear in the way of war (i.e., non-terrorist attack) against our homeland and that we have much less incentive to go to war elsewhere. So while both parties are pro-imperialism, I certainly hope the Democrats (or Republicans!) will take this opportunity to rethink their support of a strong military.

    And for fiscal responsibility, I’ll totally disagree with you. Clinton was great, but that was Clinton, not the Democrats (and the Republicans in Congress helped). In reality, both parties are terrible on fiscal responsibility. The only way our national debt isn’t tremendously higher in four years is if Obama breaks all of his campaign promises. And I’d say the same thing if McCain had won.

    Overall, I note that most of the comments above have been about attacking one of the parties instead of being about praising one of them. As such, I’ll let H. L. Mencken close:
    “Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.”

  • Curtis

    I agree with this article. I am so mad at the Republicans that I have decided to join their party.

    I am a libertarian. If you want my vote it is simple – be a Republican card carrying member of the ACLU. Dole’s ad (and the national Republican follow up) got me so angry that I decided to vote anti-Republican in across the board.

    My plan is to register as a Republican and in every primary vote for the most libertarian candidate available. If the Republicans choose a bigot (as they typically do), I will vote for a Democrat or a 3rd party candidate.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Ngeli, the Republicans are the ones that have fucked up the economy and you would trust them on economic issues more than the Democrats? that’s just stupid. Sorry, but there’s no other word for it.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Fuck free markets. Free markets are what have caused the financial disaster we are experiencing now.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    Conservative atheist here.
    Not necessarily republican. Can’t stand the religious and social totalitarianism they endorse.

    I’m definitely pro free market, pro capitalism, pro individual liberty and property rights, anti-confiscatory tax system and anti government control. In a word, libertarian. Neither of the major parties represents these ideals, imho.

    Personally, I think that if the Republicans would adopt the Libertarian platform (without actually saying it, and disguising it somewhat from the evangelicals – it wouldn’t be hard to trick them – they believe in ghosts, talking snakes, etc), they might stand a chance of winning an election sometime in the near future.

    Yes, it is a bit of skullduggery that I am proposing, but it’s the only way the libertarian platform is going to gain any broad appeal nationwide – to call it Republican. They could throw the evangelical crowd a bone here and there, but congifure the internal power structure so that none of the religious nuts actually get into positions of power.

    This is what the Republican party needs, and I would be all for it. It just might work.

  • Caerleigh

    I am a registered Republican – mostly because I want to vote in their primaries. I like most Democrats but I like only a few Republicans, and if I can finagle a political match-up with a Democrat and a Republican that I like, it’s win-win.

    I am bisexual, an atheist, and I am in the top 10% of Americans salary-wise. So it shouldn’t surprise you that I am socially liberal but fiscally conservative. (I still reel when I get my paycheck. I went from being a very poor college student to a very rich job-holding adult. In my first paycheck, they took out more money in taxes – almost $4,000 – than I had ever saved in my entire life.) If we could get a REAL Republican running versus the choices we’ve had lately, I’d be thrilled.

    However, I can’t help but vote Democrat. I am not a one-issue voter but the social issues are much more important to me than the money, as much as the taxes hurt. Gay marriage, abortion rights, stem cell research, etc are VERY important to me. I knew I’d be voting for Obama, although I didn’t particularly dislike McCain until Bible Spice hopped aboard.

  • llewelly

    With respect to ‘a strong military or fiscal responsibility’, people should recall that when each of Wilson, FDR, Nixon, Reagan, and G.W. Bush strengthened the military, the federal deficit expanded. Only Truman and Eisenhower oversaw military buildup without large deficit increases – and they did it in the days when tax brackets ran up to 90%, and the economy was at its strongest point in the 20th century. Notably, when massive military cutbacks occurred during the Clinton years, a deficit turned into a surplus.

    Without both a strong economy and high taxes, strong military and fiscal responsibility cannot both be maintained at the same time. If the current crisis (primarily due to Bush, the Republicans, and free-market theology) is half as bad as it looks, America will in all likelyhood be forced to abandon the majority of it’s current military power.

  • llewelly

    Personally, I think that if the Republicans would adopt the Libertarian platform (without actually saying it, and disguising it somewhat from the evangelicals – it wouldn’t be hard to trick them – they believe in ghosts, talking snakes, etc)…

    Given wide-spread Libertarian worship of Ron Paul and Bob Barr, the reverse is already happening.

  • http://mypantstheatre.blogspot.com bullet

    I am an atheist, anti-abortion, pro-choice, pro-gay, small government conservative Republican.

    The Godbots have hijacked the Republican party and given rise to the hideous monstrosities that are neo-cons. Excuse me if I’m not compelled to join the Democratic Party. My principles haven’t subverted. I’m not going to change my mind on foreign relations, taxes, the environment or welfare reform because GWB has proven to be an idiot and the GOP has been too complacent in its self-righteousness to recognize the trouble they’re in.

    If I had another choice that wasn’t full of whack-jobs, I’d take it. We need a serious effort to create a third party. The Libertarians and the Greenies aren’t the answer.

  • NeuroLover

    I think I’m in love with Transplanted Lawyer, RobL, and ATL-Apostate :)

  • Cindy

    Atheist, woman, pro small government, fiscal conservative, pro strong military, pro secure borders, pro personal responsibility, socially liberal but towards the pro-life end of the choice debate.

    There are a surprising number of conservative republicans who do not believe in god but do not like identifying themselves with the atheist community. For example: anyone in Boston who has listened to conservative talk show host Howie Carr on AM radio… Surprise, he is an Atheist by definition, but distances himself from the stereotypical rabid left atheist to the extent that he doesn’t even use the word to describe himself. I know a lot of atheists like this and I wish the atheist community could disentangle itself from the far left and be a group that we all can identify with without caveats.

  • http://hjhop.blogspot.com Bing McGhandi

    While there are many Christians who are Democrats, the Conservative Christians aren’t going anywhere else right now.

    Hello? They’re going up Heaven’s Chimney? Remember? There are going to be little piles of clothes without smug people in them. Hurry up with that rapture, whydontcha!

    HJ

  • astrogal

    first time commenter, whoo!

    I’m a college kid going to perhaps the most conservative, religious public university in the US (you might’ve seen us on CNN for our anti-Obama rally the week before elections… I’m only here because it’s free and I’m in the best program for my major!), and I’m a Republican because I align myself more along their policies than Democrats. That’s not to say I wouldn’t vote Democratic (which I did for some local positions), and had I agreed with Obama, then I would’ve voted for him. If I like him more in 4 years than the Republican candidate, then I’ll vote for him.

    In other words, politics shouldn’t concern a single party, you should vote for whichever candidate agrees best with your world view!

  • Gabriel

    I heard an interview with Mike Huckabee today. He is reflecting everything else I have heard over the last week. He said that you can’t be fiscally conservative and socially liberal and still be a republican. He said that if you were socially liberal and fiscally conservative then you are a libertarian and not a true republican and they don’t want you in their party. According to him you must be socailly conservative to be a republican. I think they may be in trouble for a little while. Or not. Who knows?

  • Katsu

    I actually was a registered Republican for close to eight years, from the time I was first able to register to vote. About two years ago, I just couldn’t take it any more. My mother and my more liberal friends kept hammering me about the indefensible things the President I’d voted for twice was doing, and I ran out of ways to stick my head in the sand and come up with justifications for him. That, and I simply couldn’t ignore the hijacking the religious nuts had done any more. So I wrote a letter to President Bush and the chairman of the RNC about how they’d made me feel unwelcome in the party and ashamed to be a Republican, and I changed my registration to unaffiliated.

    So… I don’t support them any more. Period. But, while I was part of the Republican party, at least for about the first six years (the last two before I got the hell out were an unpleasant experience in cognitive dissonance land) I supported the platform because I had a job that paid ridiculously well for someone that only had a high school diploma and I was happy to buy into the party lie. When you’ve got a stable, large income, and you’re a stupid, selfish kid, it’s not much of a leap to WANT to believe that people who don’t have it as good of you are in that boat because they’re lazy and don’t want to work hard, that welfare programs steal the money of hard-working Americans like ourselves and give it to lazy welfare queens, and that while our health care is bad it’s better than having evil socialized medicine (this was before I was in a committed relationship with my British significant other). I even used to watch Bill O’Reilly (though before he was quite as frothy as he is now) and I even bought the ‘Christians are being picked on’ BS for a limited time until I got a good blast of how those same, picked-on Christians would treat me if they had their their druthers. About the time I started hearing the “America is a Christian Nation” claim and the vicious rhetoric against gay marriage, I was done.

    From where I’m standing now, I can’t help but feel ashamed of how I voted in several past elections, and how I willingly welcomed deception and even hatred of those less fortunate than myself into my life. However, I think it’d be a lot more shameful if I hadn’t pulled my head out of my ass.

  • http://blog.crispen/org/ Rev. Bob

    I heard an interview with Mike Huckabee today. He is reflecting everything else I have heard over the last week. He said that you can’t be fiscally conservative and socially liberal and still be a republican.

    From Huck’s lips to lack-of-gods’ lack-of-ears!

    America needs more pitchforks!

    OK, I’m not exactly a Republican, but if you know some, I think that’s a great idea for their next campaign. And remind them we need more wars too.


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