Political Ramifications Due to the Rise of the Nones

Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report writes about what he thinks will happen in the future as the number of non-theists begins to rise.

They are obvious, but this is an interesting observation:

3. Republicans will have to choose between becoming a more overtly religious party and reaching out more seriously to the growing secular middle.

Secular voters once constituted an important part of the GOP coalition, but fewer than 10 percent of religious nones under age 30 are Republican. “Republican nones are getting older and continue to show an affinity to the GOP,” says Juhen Navarro-Rivera, a Trinity College research fellow who helped compile the new report. “But they’re not making new Republican nones.”

That doesn’t sound like a future decision. They’ve already made it — goodbye to the secular middle — and as more people grow weary of the ultra-religious, they’ll leave the party.

It has nothing to do with the other party, either. Gilgoff points out that the Democrats aren’t picking up all those drifters. Rather, many of the non-religious nones are just becoming Independents, which is better for our country, anyway.

By reaching out to the faithful, both parties are alienating the people who are slowly but steadily becoming a larger and more vocal constituency — those of us who don’t believe in a god or at least organized religion.

It won’t be long before a candidate can run a strong (though probably still unsuccessful) campaign on a platform of complete church/state separation.

(Thanks to Brian for the link!)

  • Eric

    I can’t wait till something like that happens. Sadly you are right at this moment it seems very ulikely for a “none” candidate to win. It’s just soo bizarre how some people react when you tell them you are an atheist. My wife told some of her co-workers that she was an atheist and they did not even know what the word meant! They thought she just believed in another god!

  • Chas

    It’s interesting to speculate that if the “nones” become a considerable minority that it could cause a shake up to the political parties. Not as drastic as right before the Civil War but maybe similar to after WWII when the GOP and Dems reverse their north/south orientation.

  • Miko

    The “nones” who consider church/state issues to be a primary determiner of their vote are probably still a small enough minority to be ignored by both major parties. The real problem for the Republicans is that they’re completely off-the-deep-end insane. Their only saving grace is that (unlike the period before the War of 1860) the election laws have now been warped to the extent that some group calling itself the “Republicans” is guaranteed an eternal top ballot spot (without regard to what policies they actually promote). I’m expecting that the health “care” debacle is eventually going to blow up in the Democrats’ faces, but seeing as they’re talking about not actually implementing it until 2014ish (coincidentally enough, the time at which every current senate member will have already run for re-election), they’ll probably maintain a majority until 2018 at least. Barring a major upset, the secular vote will be essentially ignored for the next decade.

  • JJR

    I was a young, moderate Republican (but always an atheist) until George H.W. Bush embraced the Religious Right Kulturkampf in 1991-2.

    After Pat Buchanan’s speech at the GOP convention in Houston, I said “well, I guess I’m a Democrat now” and ended up voting for Clinton.

    Voted for Obama in the Texas Primary, but mostly as a slap at Hillary’s warmongering.

    Voted Green in the last national election.

    I sometimes vote for Libertarians in local races when they’re the only ones running against local Republicans; If I’m going to get crappy econ policy either way, might as well pull for the guy who actually respects civil liberties…

  • Colin

    Wait… it’s possible for the Republicans to become “more overtly religious”?

    Evangelical Christians make up the base of fundraising and activism for the party. You saw how apathetic they were towards McCain until he picked Palin. I’m convinced that going forward they will always need to include someone from the religious fringe to tap into and energize the base of the party.

    Coupling this strategy with the “rise of the nones” will put the Republicans in the permanent minority. At least I hope so!

  • Hugh

    I really hate this term “none” for nonreligious people and hope it is nipped in the bud. It’s like you’re a non-person or untermensch for not believing in a bunch of primitive fairy tales.

  • Richard P

    I have seen the initials GOP a few times, but what do they mean?
    I am just a sheltered Canadian and guess I missed the memo on this one.
    Heck, even wiki doesn’t know…

  • Siamang

    GOP is a nickname for the Republican party.

    It stands for “Grand Old Party.”

    GOP can be used interchangeably with “The Republican Party.”

  • Richard P

    AH… thanks
    I was thinking government of the people, but thought no, could not be that….

    Then I thought Latin initials for “bribed buy big business”. I Then I realized they would never use Latin.
    Well that clears it up then…. Thanks again.

  • Richard Wade

    Oh. I thought GOP had officially been changed about 20 years ago to stand for God’s Ordained Plutocracy.

  • Revyloution

    JJR, I think we could go to a pub and agree all night. Sounds like you’ve taken the same journey I have.

    Eric, I have a brand new story to add to yours. My sister recently ‘outed’ me to her neighbor. We’ve gone camping and had a few dinner parties with this couple. When sis told them that I was an atheist, their eyes got wide, and the wife said “But… but he is so nice.”

  • Revyloution

    Oh, and i’ve posted here for long enough without a portrait. How does one go about that?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Go to gravatar.com and set up an account using the email address you use when posting. The image you upload gets associated with your specified email address.

  • Luther

    Sometimes when you tell someone you are atheist, they share that they are too. Once in a while, you are the 1st person they have ever met who they know as a fellow atheist.

    Or maybe someone overhears you say it and immediately or some day in the future it will help them realize they are not alone.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    …and as more people grow weary of the ultra-religious, they’ll leave the party.

    Leave? Heck they will be driven out. The Religious Right’s emphasis on non-compromise means they are actively driving away anyone who is the leas bit “soft” in their view, in the interest of Purity of Essence. Look at statements made about Colin Powell by Rush Limbaugh and Darth Cheney.

  • Amanda

    There is actually a growing force within the Republican Party of libertarian / conservatives. It is mostly being led by activists such as myself – atheists (like me), agnostics, apathetics, and the “nonreligious”. It has actually made me quite happy and enthusiastic about the future of the Republican Party. :)

    I could keep going but, anyway… My point of this entire post is that I am sick and tired of reading my favorite atheist blogs and ALL of them acting as if atheists can ONLY be liberals! I am and atheist and I am most certainly NOT a liberal!


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