Jennifer Michael Hecht and Ron Reagan Talk Atheism in Politics on ‘Hardball’

Jennifer Michael Hecht, one of my absolute favorite writers, recently appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball, along with fellow atheist Ron Reagan, to talk about her article in Politico Magazine about atheism as “the last taboo” in American politics. Though it’s a brief segment, they took a serious look at the “poison pill” problem we all presume atheists would face in political contests, particularly in regard to the presidency.

Michael Smerconish was the guest host, and it was encouraging to hear him so eager to, as he put it, “test the hypothesis” that an avowed atheist would be effectively barred from high office in the current political climate. As Hecht says in the segment, the culture is just crawling its way out of the religious tensions associated with the Cold War (“godless communism” vs. American Judeo-Christianity) and 9/11, and that the time really has come for nonbelieving politicians to make themselves known.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DxMj4VeFak

Do yourself a favor, if you haven’t already, and read Hecht’s book Doubt: A History. It’s wonderfully written and deeply enlightening.

As a side note, I discussed Hecht’s article and its subject matter at length on Wisconsin Public Radio’s The Joy Cardin Show last week, and atheists’ precarious place in American politics is the subject of my short Kindle book.

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  • islandbrewer

    Wow, the host actually did a decent job there.

  • tinker

    Yes, what a wonderful contrast to Bill O’Really?.

  • Brian T Hall

    their was only one piece she missed, and that was the internet… overall I agree with islandbrewer that she did a good job…

  • $925105

    Amazing how much better Hardball with Chris Matthews is when you don’t have Chris Matthews on the show.

  • $925105

    The frontrunner is Hillary Clinton? I didn’t know the primaries have already started. Thanks media for choosing the candidates for us.

  • TCC

    Some polling has already been done for 2016, perversely, and yes, Hillary is considered the frontrunner based on those (as well as what the pundits think).

  • Jeff

    Relax, there is no conspiracy there (Fox new bulletin or not). Simple phone polls or surveys were taken, guess who’s names came up first? Can’t be any worse than when Michelle Bachmann lead the polls in early 2008. Didn’t really affect the outcome, did it?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    living in DC, it became very clear to me that most politicians are atheist or even just “meh” on the question of religion. BUT they go thru the motions whenever there is a camera pointed in their direction. even the bible thumping pols turn into heathen party animals who break every commandment they can, when off camera. nobody important goes to church on a regular basis unless that’s part of their schtick and/or campaign season and fundraising time.

    people should google Rev, Moon and that crazy “kings and prophets” ceremony he does in DC every now and again. i’m blanking on the name of it, but it’s totally whack. and not at all what most american christians would think of when they think of right christian ceremony. a lot of republicans, who otherwise profess “normal’ american evangelical belief attended and participated in them over the years.

    while there surely are some normal, believing politicians out there who sincerely believe what they say about religion, far too many are just pretending.

  • tinker

    I think that it is funny when they say that *whatever* percentage of Americans would vote for a ‘qualified’ candidate when apparently qualified simply means Republican or Democrat.

  • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

    I am also a Hecht fan, and strongly recommend her Doubt book.

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    Smerconish supporting secular. Wow. He went from a Republican talking head to a sane individual. Good for him.