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.
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.