Will America ever have an Atheist President?
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21-09-2011, 01:09 PM
 
Will America ever have an Atheist President?
Hi
I'm a new user to this site but keen to get debating and discussing as many topics as possible.

One thing I'm interested in is religion in American politics, being British my self we are given sterotypes of Americans as crazily religious people and the likes of George Bush were elected mainly because of his support with the Christian right.

However I spent a whole summer in America working in Iowa and travelling around the mid west and California, I saw little evidence of Christianity having a dominating force in America both politically or socially.

So is religion in American politics becoming more like it is in the UK? where it is of very little significance in political issues. Could America ever have an Atheist President? Or was the fact that I was living and travelling in blue states of America a key reason to why I'm thinking this? Had I'd been in the deep South would I of experienced the original sterotype of America being a country of religious nuts?

Feedback would be much appreciated.

Thanks
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21-09-2011, 02:14 PM (This post was last modified: 21-09-2011 02:35 PM by 17thknight.)
RE: Will America ever have an Atheist President?
I would say that it is still significant, but not nearly as much as it may have been say 50 years ago. There are enough bigots, anywhere, to make it difficult to run for public office if you are a Muslim or Jew or whatever else.

I think people's main fear with an atheist president would be that the president would not protect (might even be antagonistic) towards people's religious beliefs. Quite frankly, I don't think they would necessarily be wrong. Just look at the way some people act, even here. I see little to no respect for people's religious beliefs. So the question is: why should they think that this man they are going to vote for would respect them or their beliefs? And if they don't think he will respect them, they won't vote for him. THAT being said, I find it highly plausible that within 50-100 years religion will be largely phased out of the political world. When the generations from the 80's,90's, and 2000's are running for President it will be a whole new political landscape. Why? Because I don't think religion will matter as much across large parts of the nation as it does now.

(21-09-2011 01:09 PM)hillzy Wrote:  was the fact that I was living and travelling in blue states of America a key reason to why I'm thinking this? Had I'd been in the deep South would I of experienced the original sterotype of America being a country of religious nuts?
Now, I will say this, the areas you traveled in may be partially responsible for why you saw what you did. I live in South Dakota, but I spent 6 years active duty in the Navy, 4 reserve, and have lived in (or spent extensive time in) every single state in America, except Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Regions like the South are wildly different than the Midwest and the North. It has nothing to do with this "red state blue state" garbage. That's media created nonsense. South Dakota is a red state, and Minnesota is the most blue state in the country and has been for 70 years, but South Dakota and Minnesota are FAR more alike than South Dakota and Georgia, which are not alike at all. The reality of these similarities and differences goes back hundreds of years and spans our entire history, but ultimately the South has often been far more religious, and far less tolerant, than most areas of the country.

The rest of the country, particularly the Midwest and the North, are religious but they are more tempered in their religion. These are areas settled by Germans, Norwegians, and many other Nothern Europeans throughout the 19th century. These areas have, for long periods of their history, been far more indifferent towards others' beliefs than the South. It is a much more introverted form of religion in the Midwest than it is in the South. People have deeply held religious beliefs, here, but are rarely judgmental about others' beliefs (or lack of). Having lived in every state, I also have found people in the Midwest to generally just be far nicer than larger portions of the country. More accepting of cultural differences, a sort of "live and let live" mentality.

So what does all this mean? It means that I do believe these areas (the Midwest, the North) could vote for an atheist president, but states like South Dakota most likely would not vote for a Democrat (regardless of their religion) and most likely would vote for a Republican (regardless of their religion). It's far more likely a Democrat would run as an atheist than a Republican.

In the Midwest, political identity means far more than religious identity. Same throughout most of the North. However, in the South, I could see religion playing a MUCH larger factor. So if a Republican ran as an atheist, they likely would lose. Why? They wouldn't carry traditionally Democratic states, and they might lose some of the more commonly Republican-held states. However, a Democrat might be able to win as an atheist because they can win without a single Southern state (a Republican can't).



Sorry for the long post! Just my 2 cents. Hope it helped!

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21-09-2011, 03:00 PM
 
RE: Will America ever have an Atheist President?
(21-09-2011 02:14 PM)17thknight Wrote:  I find it highly plausible that within 50-100 years religion will be largely phased out of the political world.

There may not be a human world left (let alone political) in 50-100 years if you follow the trends in the threats facing mankind: super bombs (nuclear holocaust), super storm (climate change), super bugs (resistant bacteria/virus related pandemic).

If somehow we survive all these, religion will still be around: the delusion is closely tied to our current evolutionary stage and evolution does not change life-forms in such a short time interval.

My vote: no atheist president ever in the USA. Even if one elected president was an atheist, (s)he would have to lie about it.
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21-09-2011, 05:26 PM
RE: Will America ever have an Atheist President?
Actually, 50 years ago, the division of church and state was far more effective than it is now. I don't recall religion coming into the discussion of a single campaign from 1960 to 2000. It may have been an issue at constituency level, but not in the national media.
Yes, they mentioned that Kennedy was the first catholic, and that was considered almost as big a step forward then as Obama in his turn. Like: look how tolerant and inclusive we are! Ain't it grand? Except, they didn't start biting at Kennedy's legs the day after inauguration.
In the second half of the 20th century, i'm not aware of any heads of state presiding over prayer meetings or announcing their religious affiliation. There have probably been several agnostics or atheists: they didn't say and nobody asked. In the 21st century, it's becoming impossible to keep faith out of political discourse.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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22-09-2011, 01:52 AM (This post was last modified: 22-09-2011 01:56 AM by mysticjbyrd.)
RE: Will America ever have an Atheist President?
Some years back Washington Post Magazine ran a then-rare story on a strange and scarce species. A kind of person most Americans are so bigoted against that they refuse to vote for them, marry them, or even allow them into the Boy Scouts.

The religious make up about 86% of the population, even more, if you only look at people who actually vote.

So, that is a big fat no.
At least, not anytime soon.
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22-09-2011, 11:17 AM
 
RE: Will America ever have an Atheist President?
Thanks for your responses much appreciated.
So why is it so very different in the UK and Europe?

I understand America was originally founded by puritanic Christians but it's a well known fact that America's founding Father's were against religion rather than for it hence the segregation between church and state. I find it incredibly ironic that by today's standards America is far more religious compared to the rest of the western world. When surely this was a country created to be free from religion?

Why do you think Europe is so different? In the UK Nick Clegg (deputy Prime Minister) is a confirmed Atheist so too is Ed Miliband (leader of the opposition) and nobody could care less.

I understand religion can be used as a tool to unite people and with America being such a diverse nation this makes sense. But how in the 21st century can religion seem to be on a dangerous rise only in America? Where as in Europe it's on the decline especially in politics.
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22-09-2011, 11:32 AM
 
RE: Will America ever have an Atheist President?
(22-09-2011 11:17 AM)hillzy Wrote:  How in the 21st century can religion seem to be on a dangerous rise only in America?

First of all, I doubt that it is only in America.

One of the many American reasons is that America is in decline -- desperately trying to hold on to her empire and failing miserably. Propped up by Chinese loans, the country is practically bankrupt.

The elite has decided a few decades ago, when they saw the writing on the wall, that desperate times call for desperate measures and pulled out all the stops in promoting fundamentalism. They own the media of course, so the media is fully complicit. Education was defunded to the level of almost starvation, the dumbing down process (by TV circuses and celebrity worship) has been accelerating since the seventies.

The people are desperate too, so they flock to whatever salvation is offered (pun intended).

As Peterkin said: the scene is hugely different from 50 years ago.
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22-09-2011, 11:43 AM
RE: Will America ever have an Atheist President?
(22-09-2011 11:17 AM)hillzy Wrote:  But how in the 21st century can religion seem to be on a dangerous rise only in America?

It's not and i have yet to see anyone here prove otherwise.

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22-09-2011, 11:57 AM
RE: Will America ever have an Atheist President?
These days religion and politics appear to work well with each other, as the media shows daily. One time a dude told me that America is a "God fearing" country. I told him he should read his bible more often. The guy gives me a funny look and asks "Who the hell are you to tell ME that I need to read the bible?!?" All I said was "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's, Mathew 22:21."

He said that what I said had nothing to do with Church and State, I told him that his religious texts had many things written in it that are open to interpretation. He basically told me to "beat it", with several choice words that turned that simple "beat it" into a paragraph of rage. I notice as of late people tend to get mad at me for quoting their scriptures and such, but I guess the truth hits home harder than anything. I can honestly say that for us to have an atheist for a president, the long road of educating people on how being "God fearing" has nothing to do with moral code and the common sense of knowing how to treat others.

"You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” -Siddhārtha Gautama
"I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” -Lao Tzu
"...thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself..." -Jesus
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22-09-2011, 12:13 PM
RE: Will America ever have an Atheist President?
17th knight, while I agree fully with your description of the mid-western portion of the US (being from Missouri), I must say that people aren't really more tolerant. They just don't inform others of their intolerance. The south is rather in your face intolerant and will let you know they hate you and why (not to say everyone is this way often times people are quite polite everywhere, but in the cases where issues creep up there are consistencies within groups). The thing is, just because people in the mid-west don't say get the hell out of here you damn foreigner doesn't mean it isn't exactly what they feel and what they suggest to others who they do not classify as damn foreigners. The same issue persists, the mid-west just never likes to talk about "bad" things.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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