If you need any more evidence that atheists are pretty much the last demographic that it's socially acceptable to view with suspicion on national level, look no further this Pew poll released Monday.
Gauging Americans' attitudes toward unnamed potential presidential candidates, the survey yielded the following results:
Do not adjust your monitor. Yes, the poll really does say that while 35% of Americans would be less likely to vote for a candidate who's cheated on his or her spouse, 53% said they would be less likely to vote for an atheist candidate for president of the United States.
Perhaps just as shocking is that only 27% of Americans say they'd be less likely to vote for a gay or lesbian candidate. While the country has made serious strides on gay rights, a substantial amount of bigotry against them still exists; in most states same-sex couples can't even get married. And yet, the number of Americans who would be less likely to vote for a gay candidate is only half of those who would for a person who doesn't believe in God.
It's astonishing when you think about it, but hardly surprising.
These days, when a media personality, politician, or other public figure makes bigoted comments about gays, or blacks, or Jews, for example, an apology frequently follows, as does a resignation, or a termination, or at least a suspension. Yet nonbelievers remain fair game.
Picture how horrifying it would be if a majority of Americans said they would be less likely to vote for say, a Catholic for example, simply based on that criteria. Or a woman. Or a Jew. You can imagine what the reaction would be: near universal condemnation (and rightfully so).
The level of suspicion and distrust nonbelievers face in the United States is disconcertingly high. Yet there is no evidence at all that atheists are less moral than believers, and it may even be the case that atheists commit crimes are lower rates than believers as this surveymay indicate.
There is a lesson here.
If a candidate ascribes to a worldview that is based entirely on faith and superstition, relies in large part on millennia-old books of questionable origin, and runs counter to logic and scientific inquiry, then that candidate has passed one of the most fundamental unofficial hurdles to becoming president. But if a candidate requires evidence for belief, rejects the revealed wisdom of holy books, and embraces logic and scientific inquiry while also knowing more about religion than religious people themselves, then that candidate is to be scrutinized with all due diligence and perhaps even voted against on that basis.
God bless America!