From the insightful Digby comes this insightly insight:
Why do the vast majority secularists vote for the Democrats? Could it possibly be for the same reason that African Americans do? Could it be that the Republican Party is so implicitly or explicitly religiously intolerant that they have no place in it?
They don’t even need to be intolerant, though…just being implicitly and explicitly religious, period, full stop, is sufficiently off-putting. The intolerance is the creamy rich arsenic-laced frosting layered thickly on top of the putrefying fruitcake of superstitious dogma—excuse me if I’d rather not have a taste. I think our interests diverge from those of the religious African Americans because, if Obama is any example, they reject the intolerance but savor the religion.
By the way, take a look at this map of the state-by-state distribution of unbelievers, also from Digby’s post. Typically, “no religion” is the third most popular choice in most states, with a few exceptions (I’m very proud of my home state of Washington.) So why do politicians so studiously avoid courting that common demographic?*
*Rhetorical question…in a winner-take-all game, third place is no place, and it’s not as if the godless form a coherent bloc anyway.
Oh, probably because we’re one of the most hated and distrusted minorities in the country. You can be a lying, cheating, womanizing, scumbag congressman and still get reelected, but woe betide you if you profess to being an unbeliever.
Plus Democrats know that most atheists will vote for them anyway, and Republicans know they would piss off more of their “values” voters than they could recruit from the godless. Neither side has much to gain.
Scott Hatfield says
It would be interesting to know how this survey was actually couched. “No religion” doesn’t necessarily imply a stance of skeptic/agnostic/atheist. In fact, in my experience a person who makes the following declaration is likely to be a Republican:
“I’m not religious, I just love the Lord.”
For many, even believers, ‘religious’ has a negative connotation but that doesn’t mean they aren’t drenched in divinity.
No Nym says
We should start a drive to get pastafarianism listed in a major way for the 2010 census.
Steve LaBonne says
SH, my experience is very different. I’ve never met even one person like that, but I know a lot of conservative Republicans who are very regular churchgoers (mostly Catholics, given the demographics where I live).
G. Tingey says
And once you’ve started, it is a very slippery slope.
Look at Tony B. Liar – he has stated courting religious groups and pusing religion, against the open wishes of the majority of the UK population, including many beleivers, but does that stop god’s liitle tony?
I think that rather than giving them shit for courting religious voters we might
stand up and ask them questions about their stance on the separation of church and
state and how they feel about atheists.
We should support candidates that support the freedom of religion and the freedom
All we’re asking is that they enforce the constitution AND not alter it to make christians happy.
I’m pretty sure that the Republican elites (“the haves and the have mores”) count a good deal of atheists in their ranks. They’re just better liars. There’s no reason to rule out churchgoers. There are all kinds of social reasons to appear to be a devout whatever-happens-to-be-the-dominant-religion. You think Cheney believes in anything besides money and military power? I haven’t seen any evidence. I grant that Bush is a run of the mill born again dry drunk, but it’s inconceivable to me that the Republicans who actually handle the money and the power are that gullible.
Steve Watson says
I don’t think the relative ranking is meaningful — the graph breaks Protestantism down into so many alignments that each looks fairly small, but taken together they would be pretty big. This is true even if you look just at the identifiably conservative groups: the “Evangelical” bar looks small until you realize that you should really roll in most of the Baptists and several other of the identified denominations, to get a true picture of that “bloc”. A pie chart that juxtaposes groups of generally similar mind-set would be more informative.
Also, “Non-religious” might include the vaguely theist who never go to church, along with New-Agers and I don’t know who else.
Sorry if that depresses you ;-).
“No religion” doesn’t necessarily mean “no spiritual concerns at all”.
It could be “no known religion”, “divinity, yes, but no human-inspired preachings”, “I’m not sure yet”, “not defined religion but person willing to believe in everything from pixies to immortal waterfalls and carved stones” etc etc
‘No religion’ doesn’t mean “atheist” at all. “Atheist” is only one part of it.
I’d also add that I don’t see what’s intrinsically wrong with being the “hold your nose and vote for us” party. PZ would like people just to stop being religious. OK, fine. I would like people to stop caring about pro sports. (a) I don’t get it. (b) It appears to be entirely pointless and rarely innovative or creative (sure, a couple of rule changes here and there; perhaps a brand new tactic, but that’s not what people are watching it for) (c) It encourages local chauvinism. (d) It distracts from important issues (people waste their precious mental capacity on things that won’t increase their well-being or that of others). (e) It is a burden on an already over-burdened local tax base; cities are always putting up stadiums instead of solving their real problems.
I could go on.
Anyway, if I said I’m going to start a new political party, no sports fans allowed, what the hell would be the good of that? Actually, I’d rather listen to some learned discourse on Thomas Aquinas from an engaging (and believing!) speaker than somebody’s opinions on the future of the Bulls. In the former case, I could suspend my disbelief and think like a Catholic. In the latter case, it would be just so much irrelevant prattle. Just saying…
All I demand from sports fans is that they tolerate the fact that I don’t care about it. All I demand from religious people is that they don’t expect me to be religious. It is impossible to form a majority political party that is entirely to my liking. However, I would rather have a political party that shared some of my ideals than one that had almost diametrically opposite ones. I proudly hold my nose and vote Democrat. It’s the only approach that could possibly work in practice, and things that don’t work in practice are not worth the effort of considering.
It wouldn’t be wrong if we formed an Atheist PAC or 527.
Any group that can raise money and has an extensive email list gets noticed.
Urgg. Stuck in the most religious state in the nation, right next door to the people’s republic of Minnesota. I truely believe nearly all the intelligent people have been driven out. Sigh. Made a bet with myself 25 years ago that an intelligent person could have a satisfying life in North Dakota. Looks like I am going to lose. Of course, 25 years ago, ND was a blue state. Double sigh.
Wow, the demographics of the Deep South are stunning.
Will E. says
Good lord, can you imagine the uproar if a politican said he didn’t care about any kind of sporting event *at all*? The mind reels.
He’d have my vote, though.
There’s claims of a Godless Americans PAC, GAMPAC
though I didn’t find an FEC registry.
I just wonder what happened there… What caused this failure ?
What’s wrong with those people on the left coast and their higher percentages of people with no religion??? Guess the Southern right-wingers will have more fodder to throw. But, hey, they can throw as much BS as they want and we left coasters will throw it right back.
Lya Kahlo says
” OK, fine. I would like people to stop caring about pro sports. (a) I don’t get it. (b) It appears to be entirely pointless and rarely innovative or creative (sure, a couple of rule changes here and there; perhaps a brand new tactic, but that’s not what people are watching it for) (c) It encourages local chauvinism. (d) It distracts from important issues (people waste their precious mental capacity on things that won’t increase their well-being or that of others). (e) It is a burden on an already over-burdened local tax base; cities are always putting up stadiums instead of solving their real problems.”
f) It is entirely pointless. Really, if “your team” wins whatever championship in whatever sport you like does it really affect your life at all?
Steve Watson says
Really, if “your team” wins whatever championship in whatever sport you like does it really affect your life at all?
Actually, it does. In seasons where the Ottawa Senators (that’s hockey, for those who, like I, are terminally sportsophobic, and wouldn’t know these details if we weren’t told) get eliminated early, it means a lack of hopeless traffic jams in my suburb on game nights, and you can get into the local restaurants earlier in the evening. I find it most inconvenient when they manage to make the playoffs….
I think the only time religion has caused a comparable nuisance around here was when Billy Graham came to town — the venue being the same arena the hockey team plays at ;-).
No Nym says
PaulC said: “You think Cheney believes in anything besides money and military power?”
Those who think that there isn’t a coherent philosophy behind neoconservatives and evangelists lack imagination. It’s why the DNC keeps losing elections. Their principles are wrong, but they do have them.
Wow, “No Religion” is pretty consistenly 1st, 2nd or 3rd amongst most of the “Yankee” states. The south is of course where the story is different, but it scores 3rd in a couple spots.
I wonder how that correlates to education and health levels.
Are they fatter and have a lower percentage of high school graduates too?
PaulC – consider yourself thoroughly unwelcome in my Boston Red Sox party.
Furthermore, you are a traitor, a heathen, anti-family, and a threat to all that is good and holy. I’m pretty sure you hate puppies too.
(This is how this politics stuff is supposed to work, right?)
OK, I was too glib. Cheney may believe in a host of principles such as corporate deregulation and low taxes. It’s not just that it works for him, but deep down, he believes that these things are right. I just have trouble believing that he is a religious man. I could be wrong about him in particular, but the Republican elites could traditionally be counted on to use their brains when self-interest is at stake. That does not make them model Christians.
It’s not that they don’t have core principles. They have principles that are consistent and which they can articulate very clearly (see Grover “drown it the bathtub” Norquist). They often avoid articulating those principles, since the main beneficiary tends to be elites such as themselves. Evangelical Christianity is closer to the populist movements of a century ago. The GOP has done a tremendous job of harnessing this populist voting block, but I don’t for a minute believe that the elites in the party really shared the ideology of the movement that they manipulate so effectively.
This = Teh W1N. LOL
The intolerance is the creamy rich arsenic-laced frosting layered thickly on top of the putrefying fruitcake of superstitious dogma–excuse me if I’d rather not have a taste.
That’s all it is, really. Just superstition. Everything happens because somebody or some thing “poofed” it. If they win the ball game it’s because they “poofed” it; or some thing thought the winners were special enough that the thingy “poofed” the win for them. If they don’t win it’s because some thing “mispoofed”. Or perhaps they may have offended the grand “poofer” somehow. Post “poof ” ergo propter “poof”.
Rick @ shrimp and grits says
The way the South appears to differ from the North in this poll isn’t so much in the percentage of “no religion” (though there *is* something of a difference here), but in the percentage that’s *Baptist*. (Lots of fundies in the South are Baptist.) The North’s religion of choice appears to be Catholicism.
So what they’re saying is that the reason secularists don’t like the Republican party is because the Republican party is not secularist. Okay I’ll buy that.
Keith Douglas says
No Nym: Precisely. And the philosophy includes using religion as a “noble lie” to keep the rabble docile. Strauss (the intellectual “root” of the neocons) was the student of a Nazi, so this shouldn’t be so surprising.
Yes, we should form a vocal voting bloc. Then we should very vocally inform all those redstaters who distrust atheists more than convicted child molesters that our bloc is backing Ralph Reed and Bill Frist.
Think it would work?
In most Northern states, the Catholics are only a plurality of the Christian populace, not a majority, but the Protestants are spread around more evenly amongst a large number of sects.
Did anyone notice “No religion” was the number one category in Idaho and Wyoming?
“No religion” is also leading in Oregon.
Dan S. says
“. . . person willing to believe in everything from pixies to immortal waterfalls and carved stones”
Immortal waterfalls? Oh great, are we going to be faced with anti-erosionists trying to push religion in science class too, now? Figures . . .
I’m suspicious, because “no religion” is higher in Missouri than in New York. I’d like to see the actual survey questions to see how it was all worded.
John Emerson says
Unaffiliated Christians call themselves “Christian” or “nondenomination”, both listed. “No religion” might include practitioners of freelance spirituality, but “Other” sems meant for that.
The lowest “no religion” score I could find was 6% or in SC and ALA, but then ND was mentioned: 3%.
Wyoming is hard-core right-wing but “no religion” is tops at 20%. So we can’t read much into this.
HI and AK aren’t listed.
Ben Tremblay says
Perhaps because the godless believe in nothing?
No, really … I’ve long lamented the slow uptake rate in the progressive community, things like IT. (Yesterday I got a dupe mailout from an activist friend. “My friend was helping me but when she took over I didn’t show here where I’d stopped in the list”. A professional organizer, enterring email addresses manually, individually, serially. I know she was part of the office for the People’s Summit in 1995, and I had everyone up and running with databases and email … 11 years, and she hadn’t picked up on mail-lists. Sadly typical of what I’ve seen over 33 years.)
As mistaken / deluded / misguided as fundamentalists might be at least they aren’t jaded and cynical, however opportunistic might be their handlers.
We could do a soc-psych/sociological profile … do “godless” people tend to narcissistic disengagement? I’d bet yes.