In modern conservatism, there seems to be a trend towards religion. Prominent conservatives, especially politicians, espouse the virtues of religion (chiefly Christianity) as the perfect way to run America. Is that a bad thing? Certainly not, Freedom of Speech and Religion is a cornerstone of the US Constitution.
So where are the atheists?
Historically, atheists have been viewed with suspicion. Some may think of atheism as the last taboo in politics.
To this day, atheists are still under scrutiny but have been more accepted by society at large. In fact, a 2006 University of Minnesota survey found that atheists are the least trusted minority group, with 48% of respondents saying that they would not want their child to marry a non-believer. Still, there is somewhat of a divide between conservatives and atheists.
A Pew survey from 2014 informed us that 69% of atheists are Democrats or lean that way, while 17% have no lean. They are also the demographic who are most liberal and disagree with the Republican Party agenda. It’s fair to say that they both self-identify and are lumped in with the left, whether the absence of God motivates them or not. While there are a number of Christian liberals, religion seems to be more focused on the right, whether classed as the religious right or just plain ol’ conservatives.
So where does that leave the conservative atheist?
A conservative atheist may be pro-life because they believe fetuses have rights and may think it’s alright for a Colorado bakery to reject a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because they believe in freedom. Not believing in God doesn’t stop them from groaning every time they fill in their tax returns, getting angry when government red tape stops them from expanding a business, or heading out to a gun show to buy a new rifle.
Really, atheists can be conservatives quite easily. Social policy, defined more by religious or moral beliefs than fiscal policy, is not necessarily the most definitive part of a person’s political agenda.
The main difference is simply religion. If you asked most conservatives, they would believe morality tends to correlate with spirituality. If you asked the same to most atheists, they would believe that morality comes from both nature and nurture.
There are the folks that sneer at atheists and question how they live their life without prayer. On the flip side, you have your fedora wearing atheists who make snide comments about believing in “a fairy man in the sky.”
At the end of the day, you will find atheists are a rather quiet minority on the right. In the USA, all openly atheist politicians are either Democrats or Independents. There are a few conservative non-believers, such as atheist commentator S. E. Cupp and atheist/agnostic politician Austin Petersen, but you’ll be hard pressed to find any more. Whether it’s due to a majority being Democrat or a culture of silence, it’s hard to say. The Republican Party and everyone else on the right should quite easily be open to someone who doesn’t believe in God.
In 2004, President George. W Bush said this:
I will be your president regardless of your faith…And if they choose not to worship, they’re just as patriotic as your neighbor.
There’s no need for division or sneering towards conservative atheists. They fight the same fight as their friend who goes to church weekly and prays several times a day. Instead of finding their strength from God, they find their strength from other places. They will pound on doors, write strongly worded articles and telephone canvass for the same candidate that their devoutly Christian friend believes in.
Division is not what the right needs, especially at a time of great political discord. Conservatives need unity.
How would I know? Well, I’m an atheist conservative. I don’t discredit my religious conservative fellows and hope that they don’t discredit me. My lack of belief in God doesn’t mean I believe any less than what any other Lone Conservative contributor believes in.
I’m just as patriotic as my neighbor.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.