Saturday, October 09, 2004

More tolerant than thou?

From a story on NPR's All Things Considered:

“In 1958, only 1 out of 6 Americans said they would vote for an atheist president, even if he were well qualified. Today it’s closer to half. So, on the one hand, Americans have grown more tolerant of atheists. On the other hand, that is far less than the percentage of people who say they would be willing to vote for a woman, or an African American, or an evangelical Christian, or a Catholic, or a Jewish candidate, or even, in the most interesting case, there are 10 percentage points more people who say they would vote for a Muslim.”
I hope I have the presence of mind to recall this fact the next time somebody tries to explain to me that their particular brand of faith is being “oppressed by modern society.”


Blogger Malaclypse the Tertiary said...

So the fact that people are unwilling to vote for someone based upon their faith, or lack-thereof, is tantamount to oppression? I'd wager that probably 90% of voters are unwilling to vote for an avowed Satanist - are the Satanists being oppressed?

What is voting if not the opportunity for the people to say, "I do or don't like such and such" ?

Requiring that students and teachers avoid "ostentatious" display of their religiosity while on public school grounds - now THAT'S repression, and it violates the 1st Amendment.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Malaclypse the Tertiary said...

By the way, I dig the blog. It looks great and I was provoked into commenting on the very first post I read. Now that's a blog!

2:35 PM  
Blogger d.g. said...

Is vote-casting tantamount to oppression? Of course not! I’m simply presenting this as evidence that faith, of any major brand, is still a winning proposition in the view of the American electorate, contrary to the belief of many of my religious friends. School prayer, the pledge of allegiance, evolutionary theory, gay marriage, abortion… I’ve heard so many times that laws or judicial rulings supporting the secular viewpoints on these issues are evidence of a societal oppression of religion. That notion is false. As an electorate we overwhelmingly support religion.

Of course, it shouldn’t matter how religiously motivated our voting is. Our elected leaders are bound by the 1st Amendment. I suspect you and I agree on that point, Eliot. I support a teacher or student’s right to freely exercise their religion. I also defend my right to not have a religion imposed upon me by my government. Presumption that our nation was formed “under God” or that an “Intelligent Designer” is responsible for the creation of the universe both infringe upon that right.

Truthfully, the constitutionality of religion is not what motivated the original post. What bothers me about our country’s predilection against atheism for an elected leader is this: it implies a widespread belief that atheists are somehow morally inferior. I don’t find that oppressive, simply unfortunate. Faith does not have the market cornered on morality, nor does it necessarily provide it.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Haze said...

Just a couple of things (I started to post earlier then lost my entire this will be short). I don't think it is fair to claim that because individuals wouldn't support an atheist, even if well qualified, that translates into the belief that they are morally inferior. This may be true in a good number of instances, but basic polysci teaches us that individuals will support leaders that share their qualities. The majority of Americans consider themselves religious, if this claim actually goes beyond a self-label and translates into actions is not well supported, but at least is how they view themselves. So they are naturally going to desire leaders that share their point of view.

I would believe that an atheist would desire someone like minded in control of their nations if they had the opportunity. This comes from desire to be governed by someone free of the "silly" fabrication of the existence of a higher being. No matter how the argument is made, someone that doesn't believe in God would naturally think that those that do are less enlightened or intelligent, and surely wouldn't want them to be in a position of control.

The idea that is it ridiculous to believe that the main stream culture treats Christianity unfairly in comparison to other beliefs (I would have to guess that you were insinuation Christianity when you were discussing that) is a good topic that I may post on at my home, but requires much more time and space.

Nice blog, keep posting and I'll keep reading.

5:18 PM  

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