Can a New Group for “Republican Atheists” Gain Any Traction?

A group created in February seeks to unite “Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists and others who are registered Republicans or take interest in the Republican Party.” But you have to wonder how many people will join it, and what it would even mean for them to succeed.

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Republican Atheists, which launched on February 15 of this year, has three executive members listed on its site, including New Hampshire State Rep. Brandon Phinney, who recently confirmed his atheism on this site. Most recently, the group announced the addition of Board Member Robert M. Price, an atheist author who told us last October why he was on the Trump Train.

Price responded with enthusiasm to Republican Atheists’ request for board members. He notes that he would like to support the notion that Atheists can in fact be registered Republicans and have conservative ideology.

The group hopes to “build awareness of Atheist presence in the Republican Party,” though it may have more success building awareness of Republicans among the broader atheist community. The 116 likes on Facebook and 37 followers on Twitter suggest there’s a lot of room to grow. A survey conducted in 2015 among members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation revealed only one percent identified as Republicans — the low end — while a 2014 Pew Research Center survey said Republicans represented 15% of atheists.

According to Lauren Ell, the president of Republican Atheists, the group’s main intention isn’t to influence the legislative or electoral process. Not yet, anyway. Instead, she said in an email, they want to “challenge the concept that atheist equals Democrat and Republican equals religion.”

We are building a platform for those who identify as atheist, agnostic and secular in the Republican Party. However we will reach out to legislators and politicians to make them aware of our presence and possibly initiate dialogue with them.

This is an important time to note that disbelieving in deities doesn’t mean a person necessarily aligns with any particular ideology, political or otherwise. If the existence of this group has you scratching your head — why would any atheist align with this Republican Party? — keep in mind that many of them may support a GOP that even many Republican politicians no longer recognize. They support the ideas of smaller government, fewer taxes, and more personal freedom, but not necessarily a party that seems to have merged with the Religious Right. (Back in October, we interviewed a gay agnostic college graduate who supported Donald Trump for President.)

As difficult as it may be to admit (or make sense of), it’s a fact that atheists (as well as people of all faiths) span the political spectrum. That’s the reason American Atheists gets a booth at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), despite the criticism.

Other notable conservative non-believers include S.E. Cupp, the columnist who once said she could never completely wrap her mind around the idea of God, and even White Nationalist Richard Spencer, whom we interviewed in January.

Yes, their cognitive dissonance may be on full display, but remember that “atheist” only means one thing: you don’t believe in a god. While there’s obviously a large overlap between atheists and liberals, it’s not an ironclad rule.

That said, it’ll be interesting to see if the Republican Atheists gain any traction — and if they can justify so many of the faith-friendly policy positions being taken by this administration with the complicity of the GOP. As of this writing, there’s nothing on the group’s website explaining what policies they support or their thoughts on the current administration.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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