Provincial half-wits okay, but no Goddamned atheists!

people and relationships, politics, society

In the marvelous The Week magazine (March 2007 edition quoting a USA Today / Gallup poll), it was disclosed that 53% of Americans wouldn’t vote for an atheist for U.S. President (and, unsurprisingly but just as sadly, 43% said they wouldn’t vote for a homosexual, either).  Barring a horribly worded poll question—which, I concede, isn’t out of the question—I’m guessing the real percentage of Americans who are prejudiced against atheists is even higher; assuming the poll was done by phone or in person, I can imagine some people thinking to themselves “Well, darned if I’d ever support one of them goin’-to-hell types, but I gotta sound enlightened here and not admit it!”

You know, I don’t care what people believe in: the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Boogie Man, or—my personal favorite and Savior—The Flying Spaghetti Monster… nor do I care whom they sleep with (men, women, or even The Flying Spaghetti Monster Himself, though I admit that could get messy), as long as no one gets hurt.  For instance, a pediatrician saying, “I’m sorry, son, I can’t see you today unless you pledge allegiance to Harvey, my invisible rabbit”… that would be wrong.  And weird… though (IMACANSHO) not a jot weirder than lots of other belief systems out there. 

Personally, I’d actually be happy to elect anyone as President—regardless of his or her religion or sexual habits—if he or she would fulfill just some very basic criteria:
– Has visited at least four countries in three continents.  And not just on business.
– Can read—and speak—at higher than a sixth grade level.
– Is respected by more than half a dozen world leaders.  And not the machete-wielding ones, either!
– Has publicly admitted to being wrong… and apologized!
– Has an innate sense of curiosity about the world… including people, science, the arts, etc.

And, most importantly…

– Views the world LOGICALLY.  Doesn’t make decisions to appease some invisible being or out of “faith” or whatever… because all of us, dammit, are likely to see *different* invisible beings depending upon what we’ve ingested recently… and frankly, it makes a hell of a lot more long term sense to have faith in science and scientists (who haven’t been muzzled by bureaucrats, but that’s another story).  A candidate who avoids run-on sentences would be even a better man than I! 😛

And, a helpful example:
WRONG:  “I’m signing this bill because the Flying Spaghetti Monster told me that it’s the right thing to do.”
RIGHT:  “I’m signing this bill because all independent research consistently shows it’s the logical choice based upon a thorough assessment of risks, opportunities, and benefits.”

*  *  *

So, zigging back to the original issue, I really don’t get why people would care about the belief system of their President.  Then again, I also don’t get why many people elected our last one because—and, as Dave Barry would say, I swear I am not making this up—they could really themselves see chuggin’ a beer with him.  Look, I know lots of guys who are amiable and often quite entertaining (and frequent) bar dwellers.  However, I sure as hell wouldn’t want them as my neurosurgeon.  Or life advisor.  Or Leader of the Free World.

No, I’d like to have someone who is insanely smart and sober and thoughtful.  Even a total nerd.  Sure, it’d be nice if he were social enough to not bungle through pleasantries with other heads of state, but I bet even the most socially awkward nerd wouldn’t be runnin’ around giving unsolicited shoulder massages.  Honest.  And wouldn’t that be a delightful improvement right there? 😀

*  *  *

In the meantime, it really saddens me that so many folks harbor such a prejudice against atheists, homosexuals, and, indeed, probably anyone who “threatens” their intellect, sexuality, or overall belief structure.  How is it that so many people—especially (I’m also sad to say) Americans—are so damn insecure? 

Look, I think ABBA wrote delightful music.  I get teary-eyed at many Sondheim musicals.  If you don’t feel the same way, 

you have lousy taste 

 hey that’s hunky dory.  As long as you don’t get elected as President and say… okay, due to my undying love for ABBA and Sondheim, I am going to put 42% of our budget into ABBA and Sondheim museums in every city.  In the world!  We’re going to take over Funkistan and put museums there for the ABBA- and Sondheim-less heathens!

Fine, fine, I’m getting a bit silly.  Belief in invisible beings is, I suppose, more profound than my tastes in music and theatre.  And, you might argue, someone’s belief system might guide them in their executive decisions.  Wars in the name of spaghetti sauces.  Tax policies to favor yellow marshmallow peep production.  And that, my friend, would be wrong.  Very wrong.

Logic transcends all of this.  If only so many folks weren’t quite so busy forcing beliefs on others.  Maybe if we had just had better logic and statistics teachers in school?  Hmm….

16 comments… add one
  • me May 28, 2007

    Wow, as I was reading your criteria I thought – hey, I could fit that. 😀 But then I remembered a great leader saying, & I realized if I become a leader then God Most High will ask me about a goat dying somewhere in my country. Be held responsible for a lot of things! So. Oh. 🙂

    Peace.

  • Thu May 31, 2007

    Great post, Adam. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You so inspired me that I went back to publish a post that I had unpublished for fear of some backlash.

    I wonder if the reason people are prejudiced against atheists could be revealed in the following:

    When I described myself as an atheist to someone, he called me a “devil worshiper.” My response was that someone who doesn’t believe in a supreme being isn’t going to believe in his nemesis either. I can’t worship something I don’t believe in.

    No wonder people are afraid of atheists if they equate them to devil worshippers.

  • IceGiant Jun 6, 2007

    I have a whole bunch of American clients here in Larnaca.

    Over the past couple of days or so I’ve shown them this post and they have universally loved it.
    It does seem that [as per your first requirement, sort of…], once an American sees something of this planet, his/her word-view does seem to change quite dramatically.

    An absolutely outstanding, as well as insightful & entertaining post sir…

    I shall remove my brown nose forthwith 😉

    P.S. Your pop-up smiley chooser is really hard to look at late at night after a long day staring at the screen 😉

  • IceGiant Jun 6, 2007

    Ok… hang on a sec here…

    I appear to have a German flag next to my last comment but, although I am in fact a Kraut, my machine does not contain any German language settings at all.

    Is there something we should all know about your blog’s psychic reader detection algorithms?  :-O

  • Adam Jun 6, 2007

    Wow, the response here makes me feel a lot better about having posted this!  I was seriously worried about getting flames or “you’re going to hell” notes and so on.  Certainly a pleasure to have these thoughtful replies :-D.

    And IceGiant… I’d brag that my blog setup includes MindReading 2.0, but in truth, it’s just lookin’ at your IP address and matching that up against a known database of regions.  Perhaps it’s time for me to somehow update this database and/or your ISP is centrally based in Germany or…?  Hmm!

  • IceGiant Jun 6, 2007

    Hi Adam

    MindReading 2.0, eh? 😉

    My ISP is the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority… err not in the least bit German to the best of my knowledge.

    Very strange 😀

  • IceGiant Aug 24, 2007

    Probably for the same reason Bill Gates and George Dubbya aren’t in the phonebook… and because the whole thing would be abused and spammed to buggery by all and sundry in an instant.

  • Adam Aug 25, 2007

    Whoa whoa… Reel?  You indeed bring up real problems, but:
    – they don’t seem to have anything to do with this blog entry.
    – they don’t seem to have anything to do with Google (other than the fact that Google has a philanthropic wing—google.org—which is already doing good stuff in the world)

    So please, no more off-topic comments, okay?

  • Lynne Oct 27, 2007

    Interesting post… However, the person who is elected president is hardly the one running the country and is in fact most likely getting advice in one form or another from gay and/or atheist individuals anyhow.

    So, unless this country is truly run by one man or woman, then who cares what their religious or sexual preference is…

    Lynne

  • A Key Dec 6, 2007

    The election of leaders is a very carefully crafted event, which is why most running for high offices appear so sanitized.  It will be interesting to see how many more decades pass before a female or non-white gets in.

  • tracy Jan 1, 2008

    Hey if America could only elect a president that didn’t have conflicts of interest ie. bussinesses that have very lucrative contracts awarded by the government. Maybe then the candidates would be a little more level headed.
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  • jp Jan 25, 2008

    I believe polititions need to use common sence and not make decisions based on what they are going to get out of the decisions they make.

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  • Lance Mar 3, 2008

    I think the same,
    Just look, Mr.Obama who is in race of next US President election does not want to outsource the work,
    and promises the people outside US for permanent residency of US.
    Well Mrs.Clinton wants to outsource the work because she believes if work won’t be outsourced than US companies need to recruit candidates over there, and Hillary now does not want any non American to stay in America.
    This is called politics.

  • Mark Mar 3, 2008

    Thinking is not bad, but they need to promote them selves as a leader of a Great US.
    and you can find for both the slogans wants to change America.
    How? This is the only way.

  • Jose Mar 25, 2008

    No any politician is free to take decision.
    There are many factors affecting in taking good or bad decision.
    The most and the worst factor is Party itself.
    Some times because of party policy they can’t take right decisions.
    and some times they don’t want to leave their conventional approach.
    and some times money matters.

  • SkulptoR Jun 9, 2008

    Mark yes is only way!

What do you think?