Sanity finally rules: MORE THAN 50% OF AMERICANS WOULD VOTE FOR AN ATHEIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
Traditionally, religious values have been a major factor in Americans’ selection of presidential candidates. For better or for worse, personal faith plays a major role in how well a candidate relates to the public and, subsequently, how successful he or she is at the polls. But there’s evidence that this dynamic may be changing. According to a new poll released by Gallup last week, 54 percent of Americans are now willing to vote for an atheist presidential candidate.
While this proportion is still relatively low, it marks a major change in thinking about faith and values. Consider that in 1958, only 18 percent of Americans said they’ve vote for a secularist. Over the past five decades, we’ve seen steady growth, though, with more than half of Americans now reporting the same.
Interestingly, gays have experienced a similar uptick in potential support, with only 26 percent saying they’d vote for a homosexual presidential candidate in 1978 and 68 percent saying the same in 2012. Other groups, too, have experienced increasing support. Only 33 percent of the nation was willing to vote for a woman in 1937 — a proportion that now stands at 95 percent.
As for atheists, the growth seems a bit slower than with other minority groups (although Muslims, too, experience a similarly poor showing). Also, it’s important to note that non-believers still account for the smallest percentage of potential presidential support when juxtaposed against women, gays, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and African Americans. Also, another important indicator of cautiousness and distrust on the part of the U.S. public can be seen among those who would not be willing to vote for atheists — a startling 43 percent.