Election Day a Win for Nontheists


Election Day wasn't without its share of disappointments but for the nontheistic community it was overwhelmingly a very good night!

The Good

  • In Florida, Amendment 8, which would have allowed for taxpayer funding of religion was voted down.
  • Voters in Washington state, Maryland and Maine approved same-sex marriage. "We've lost at the ballot box 32 times," Paul Guequierre of Human Rights Campaign told CNN. "History was made tonight."
    Election Image from Shutterstock.
  • In Minnesota voters rejected a measure that would have banned same-sex marriage.
  • President Barack Obama was reelected. Obama received a "C" grade on the Secular Coalition's Presidential Candidate Scorecard, coming in behind Libertarian Gary Johnson, who received a "B." However, of the two major party candidates, Obama came in well above his challenger, Republican, Mitt Romney, who received an "F" on the Scorecard.
  • Missouri's U.S. Representative, Todd Akin, lost his seat. Akin, who sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has repeatedly denied scientific evidence in many areas, including regarding climate change, and making explosive claims that the female reproductive system is able to block conception from an unwanted pregnancy. He also objected to removing "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Kyrsten Sinema, won her Arizona Congressional race, she is the first bisexual member of Congress and is supportive of a strong separation of church and state.

The Bad

  • Sadly, longtime California U.S. Representative, Pete Stark, lost his reelection bid. Stark was the only open nontheist in Congress.
  • Minnesota U.S. Rep, Michelle Bachman, who received an "F" in every category on the Secular Coalition's Presidential Primary Candidate Scorecard and an "F" on our Congressional Report Card, was reelected.
  • Massachusetts voted down a “Death With Dignity” initiative that would have permitted terminally-ill patients to request physician-assisted suicide medications. The initiative was narrowly defeated by a 51-49 margin.
  • Roy Moore, the so-called ‘10 Commandments judge’ won his old job back--he was  re-elected chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court.

 The Opportunity?

  • Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin will be the first openly gay Senator. Baldwin lists no religion and could be a strong ally for the nontheistic community.

The Humor

  • Charles Darwin got almost 4,000 write-in votes against Georgia Rep. Paul Broun, who said earlier that evolution is a "lie straight from the pit of hell."

 Looking Forward

Prior to the election same sex marriage was permitted in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont and the District of Columbia. We can now add three more states to that list. Additionally, we saw a successful effort to block marriage equality. According to CNN  a majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage, with the number of Americans saying they have a close friend or family member who is gay at 60 percent-up from 49 percent in just 2010. Public opinion is definitely shifting on this issue.

The religiously unaffiliated are quickly becoming a voting bloc politicians-especially Democrats-will need to court. According to Pew, unaffiliated voters are now equal to white evangelicals. According to exit polls, the nones voted for Obama by a margin of 70-26. Obama won more than half of those who seldom or never attend religious services, and a full 70 percent of the religiously unaffiliated, according to CNN's exit polls. And in various states, that number was even higher. For example, in Pennsylvania, where unaffiliated voters make up 12 percent of the electorate, Obama won 74 percent of the "none" vote.

According to Sarah Posner, with Religion Dispatches, "Given what we've learned recently about religious realignments -- declining numbers of Catholics, declining numbers of mainline Protestants, declining numbers of evangelicals in the 18-29 year-old age group, and increasing numbers of unaffiliated voters, and in particular, atheists and agnostics in the 18-29 year-old age group -- it seems like a significant shift is underway."

A shift indeed. One we are looking forward to.

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