I’ve been blogging about whether atheism as a community and what might tie it together for the past week or so, and a NYT article from a little while ago raised some more questions for me. In an article titled “Obama Gains Evangelical Allies on Immigration” one Republican voter said:
“I am a Christian and I am a conservative and I am a Republican, in that order,” said Matthew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a conservative religious law firm. “There is very little I agree with regarding President Barack Obama. On the other hand, I’m not going to let politicized rhetoric or party affiliation trump my values, and if he’s right on this issue, I will support him on this issue.”
Would any of us really say that we are ‘atheists first’ or even that atheism has a great deal to do with our political beliefs? I think my atheism only influences my politics inasmuch as I like to see my doubts resolved by empirical study (and thus constantly find myself at odds with Sarah Palin and wishing Congress had more statisticians).
In day to day life, I only feel compelled to identify myself as an atheist for the purpose of counteracting harmful stereotypes about atheists, just as I only feel a need to disclose that I am bisexual because homophobia remains common. If stigma against either decreased, I wouldn’t feel the need to volunteer either as frequently as I do, and I certainly don’t feel either is one of the most important adjectives I would use in trying to explain myself to another person.
Do you feel that, in any area of your life, you are an ‘atheist first?’
Do you feel like telling someone you are an atheist gives them important information about you? What does it tell them?
If you meet an atheist, do you think of them as an ‘atheist first?’ What do you conclude from the fact of their atheism?