Imagine Atheist Politicians
As an atheist, I just about always vote for political candidates who say they believe in God. Not because I’m impressed by their professed God beliefs, but because I have no other choice-unless I cast a write-in vote. Of course, in reality atheist politicians have received hundreds of thousands of votes, though their constituents likely didn’t know they were voting for closet atheists. Currently, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Cal) is the only uncloseted atheist in Congress, but I’m hoping we will see many more such courageous and honest politicians in the years to come.
I generally vote for candidates whose views on important issues seem closest to mine. These candidates give sound, evidence-based reasons for their positions, without a need to invoke a deity. I am aware that these candidates belong to a religious denomination, because they view such membership as a requirement for public office. However, I draw the line at voting for a politician who claims a god told him or her to run for office or what position to take on an issue. I just won’t vote for someone who seems loony to me.
I wish everyone would judge candidates on their political positions, and not on their professed religious beliefs. But that might be a dream of mine more difficult to achieve than the dreams of Martin Luther King. Those who won’t under any circumstance vote for an “immoral” atheist, or whatever pejorative adjective precedes the A-word, are letting their blind faith and stereotyping get in the way of common sense.
America is the most religious Western democracy in the world, with the overwhelming majority believing in a personal God. By contrast, only 24% in Denmark and 16% in Sweden are believers. Americans pride themselves on our high quality of life. However, taking into account measures of income, health, freedom, unemployment, climate, political stability, life-satisfaction, and gender equality, countries like Denmark and Sweden (but not America) rank in the top 10. Moral imperatives of most religions include caring for the sick, elderly, poor and infirm; practicing mercy, charity and goodwill toward others; fostering generosity, honesty and communal concern. Statistics show that these are best put into practice in the most nonreligious nations in the world today.
Religious countries (and Bible Belt states) also have much higher rates of violent crime and teen pregnancy than more secular countries. I wonder what would happen if we elected more secular politicians.
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