As I’ve written about before, I’m a fan of Andrew Yang. He’s an incredibly thoughtful candidate with some of the most modern ideas in his platform. And now I’ve found another reason to support him: he explicitly defended atheists in this interview.
Atheists in America are still stigmatized. Roughly half of Americans would not vote for an atheist president. Studies have found that we are viewed as less moral than religious people. Which is absurd since there are plenty of theists committing horrendous crimes!
When asked about the rights of atheists Yang replied:
“I just want to say to my atheist friends, some of my best friends are atheists. And some of them are also some of the best people I know. And it is ridiculous that people would think you are somehow less moral or less worthy of the full protection and enjoyment of all of our virtues as a society because of your religious beliefs.”
He then goes on to say that atheism is just as “sound” of a philosophy as someone who is brought up in an organized religion. That is one of the best answers for the treatment of atheists I’ve heard from a presidential candidate. Yang himself identities as “spiritual.” However, it’s very clear from his policies and interviews that he believes in the Separation of Church and State. Which is all I ask from politicians!
But again, to hear Yang explicitly address atheists as people who are no less moral than religious believers was certainly refreshing. Sometimes politicians will mention the existence of “nonbelievers” and that has been as far as many even liberal politicians will go. But to actually use the word atheist in a positive way was pretty cool to see!
It seems like such a small thing. But politicians and public figures explicitly addressing atheists as people will help reduce the stigma with atheism. Nonreligious people are growing quickly in number in America so politicians would be wise, even from a practical standpoint, to start addressing us as a legitimate voting group.