In The Ides of March, George Clooney Plays a Non-Religious Governor Running for President…

George Clooney‘s new movie The Ides of March opens this Friday. In it, he plays Mike Morris, a sitting governor who’s running for president. Ryan Gosling plays his campaign strategist:

From what I can tell, the movie doesn’t make a big deal about this, but I will: Clooney is described as “an agnostic or atheist who refuses to discuss religion.” Another source points out this line of dialogue:

“I am neither a Christian, nor an atheist, I’m not Jewish or Muslim … my religion is written on a piece of parchment called the Constitution”

… and with that, the campaign was over.

Black president? We’ve seen it. Female president? Not out of reach. Atheist president? I can try to suspend my disbelief… but c’mon… you think we can just let that one slide?!

Prediction: This movie is only 12 minutes long and Clooney loses by a long shot.

Unless, you know, all of America just ignores that whole “religion” thing…

Only in the movies, right?

(via Steel City Skeptics — Thanks to Steve for the link!)

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  • I can think of two other movies with atheist candidates: The Contender (2000) and The Best Man (1964).

  • Chakolate

    if it’s true, it’s wonderful.  What ‘Will & Grace’ did for gays, movies like this can do for us.  Want atheism and atheists to be accepted?  Show them in a sympathetic light. 

  • Anonymous

    Hmm.  Is the defector’s big secret Clooney’s irreligion?  A happy ending (Clooney winning) may not be realistic, but principled separationist politics made for enjoyable drama in West Wing.  I hadn’t heard about this movie, but now I may see it.

  • Anonymous

    Unless, you know, all of America just ignores that whole “religion” thing…Only in the movies, right?

    Maybe. On the other hand pop culture often is ahead of the general culture. The movie “black president” became common enough to be a joke for years before Obama was elected. The first black president in a movie was in 1972, a time when it doubtlessly seemed utterly absurd that this could actually happen in reality, but it eventually did.

    Now, to what extent the presence of these characters in fiction may make people more comfortable with the eventual reality is certainly open to debate. However I think the presence of sympathetic characters is certainly helpful.

  • Josh

    In the last season of The West Wing, the Republican candidate was an atheist, so it gets sillier.

  • Anonymous

    He is at least questioning his beliefs, but it’s never outright stated what exactly he believes. In any case, he thinks that religion should be a private matter and not be an issue as far as the public is concerned. Which would be huge progress already

    There is this awesome scene:

  • Anonymous

    I would be strongly inclined to vote for a candidate who refused to discuss religion.  They are standing for a secular position in government, not for a priesthood.  Whether they pray to Gozer the Gozarian, Yahweh the  Jealous or don’t pray at all makes no difference to me.  That they keep their faith out of their job and uphold the principles of government is important.

  • Alexis

    I suspect that a high number of our 18th and 19th century presidents were atheist and/or deist. It simply wasn’t brought up to the electorate. Most of them if asked today about their religious or spiritual outlook not be elected.
    But times change. For most of the twentieth century divorce was a reason to no even be considered for nomination…until Saint Ronnie ran and it was not even mentioned.
     Hopefully, we will soon have a viable candidate who believes that government should be entangled with religion, and will get the opportunity to nominate a good number of Supreme Court justices.

  • Sinfanti

    I was thinking the same thing.  Entertainment often shows us possibilities that have yet to become reality.  Think of Star Trek in 1960’s showing a black woman working on a starship bridge who wasn’t a cleaning lady.  Or President David Palmer on 24, just a few years before Obama made a black president a reality.  A few well-presented atheists in mainstream entertainment could make a serious dent in people’s misconceptions.

  • Some stories are told not describe the way the world is, but to try and shape it into the world we think it should be.

  • I would say there are more than a few atheists in mainstream entertainment, but certainly more would be welcome! 2011 in particular has seen a bunch of movies with nonbelieving characters: The Ledge, The Ides of March, Higher Ground, Salvation Boulevard and Straw  Dogs.

  • Anonymous

    Hold up a second. “I am neither a Christian, nor an atheist, I’m not Jewish or Muslim …
    my religion is written on a piece of parchment called the Constitution” — he’s saying he’s *not* an atheist. Is he a Deist? I mean, it sure sounds like the character’s an atheist, but for some reason he needs to disavow the term.