Sobering poll on Millenials’ attitudes towards atheism

Hemant has a poll showing that the religiously unaffiliated (who don’t necessarily identify as atheists or agnostics) overwhelmingly support Democrats politically, to almost the same degree that Evangelicals support Republicans. This prompts Hemant to ask, “Why aren’t the Democrats reaching out to secular Americans?” (if secular Americans are so supportive of Democrats?)

The reason, I think, is shown in the second poll Hemant displays, which he tries to put a positive spin on but which is really quite sobering (if accurate). It shows that 52% of American “millenials” (the 18-25 demographic) would be uncomfortable with an atheist president. The only group that does worse on that measure is Muslims. By contrast, 61% of millenials say they would be comfortable with an evangelical president.

I admit, I find this surprising, given that other polls have found that Christianity has strongly negative associations among young people. But if this data is accurate, it’s a reminder to atheist activists that we can’t just sit back and wait for the new generation to take over running things and count on that to be an automatic “win” for us.

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  • JHendrix

    It is pretty sobering, as much as the “none’s” are a threat to the evangelical stranglehold on politics here in the US, it’s not necessarily a sign that the US is a generation or two away from being as atheistic as Sweden, Norway, or even the UK.

    If I can speculate a bit based on my personal experience, most of the “none’s” is what I think we should expect in a post-christian society: people who don’t give a shit about the god question. It’s what happens when the majority of households in the last few generations was nominally Christian, but didn’t attend church regularly. To put it in evangelical terms, the “ChrisEaster” Christians who flood in during Xmas and Easter, but are absent otherwise.

    I suspect that most of us “open atheists” are either ex-believers, who came out of a culture of indoctrination, and fight against its bad influences. Others in our community may not fit that mold, but at least had enough interest in philosophy/thought to engage the “god question” and come out on the atheist side.

    If one didn’t even think about the “god question”, because let’s face it, there’s enough stressful and fun shit to engage with in modern day America, “the none’s” are what we should expect to see.

    What I find worrying is that when the millennial’s go through their existential crisis and stare death in the face, “the none’s” may run back to religion as solace.

    Still, the “none’s” are an atheists ally in the political arena, since they largely share our values. I think the best we should aim for is to “evangelize” atheism to show that the gods of Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, and the other major religions aren’t possible answers to the “god question”.

    • Anti Atheist Now Confirmed

      Maybe if you quit smearing and ridiculing believers all over atheists sites, attitudes would change.

  • Andrew Skretvedt

    As a libertarian and an atheist who was brought up under a relatively conservative evangelical household, I am very much interesting in this notion of seculars generally leaning toward progressivism while religious (and evangelical christian in particular) generally lean conservative. Why is that?

    Speaking for myself, I grew quickly away from my evangelical upbringing toward agnosticism, until exposure to Dawkins forced me to think critically about that, whereupon I concluded I was actually atheist. Politically, I had been tracking predictably conservative (while socially liberal…mostly). And as the years have grown, I’ve recognized a deepening distrust of government institutions as any kind of force for good, out of which has grown a new political identity as a libertarian anti-statist.

    I see many of my progressive-leaning fellow atheists as still having a rather firm faith in the potential of government to be “good” (as variously defined), perhaps “if-only the right people” were in charge. This I take to mean something along the lines of a benevolent dictator, where coercion isn’t a bad thing when I can show that my force is ultimately going to be best for you (in some way, variously measured and defined). But, this I fell is come kind of arrogance similar to that which progressives decry of conservatives. So… the most I can say at this point is that we still have so much to learn.

    • Chris Hallquist

      Read this.