I’m a big fan of the Friendly Atheist and the work he does online.
However, he recently made a video that I have to disagree with. In his video, he argues that atheists (in the U.S) shouldn’t vote for Republicans.
I can partially understand why he’d say something like that. I’m not a fan of Republican politics, but I also think they’re the product of a broken political system and theocratic values. I can see why theocratic leaning politicians might scare atheists into not voting for them, but many Christians also don’t support theocratic right-wing politicians. I think in this case, the Friendly Atheist does a poor job equating atheism with politics.
Let’s see what
has to say in his video:
CJ Werleman just wrote a book called “Atheists Can’t Be Republicans.” His thesis is: Atheists can’t be Republicans.
Horrible start in my opinion. The title of the book makes a false statement. Atheism isn’t a political statement. It’s a lack of belief in God(s). That’s it. There’s no reason why an atheist can’t be a Republican atheist.
His argument is essentially this: We know when it comes to religion, there’s no question. Republican want nothing to do with us. We know that.
Sounds like a blanket statement to me. It’s something many atheists (myself included) tend to challenge when religious people do it to us.
If there are Republican atheists, then there are Republicans who want something to do with you. As a party, their platform may not be seen as super-friendly to atheists, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you can be an atheist and a Republican.
But what about social issues like gay marriage and abortion rights? If you support civil rights and women’s rights, as pretty much all vocal atheists do, then you’re not going to vote Republican either. They almost uniformly reject those things.
Being an atheist doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to support gay marriage or abortion. Atheism doesn’t just include the ‘vocal atheists’ either. There are atheists who don’t bother with religious discussion or who don’t support abortion or gay marriage.
But what about on economic issues? Well, even there, the GOP has been awful. They help the rich get richer with unnecessary tax cuts, they oppose minimum wage hikes, trickle-down economics doesn’t work. So even from a purely numbers-based, rational approach, you shouldn’t support them.
This has nothing to do with atheism. Lots of religious people feel this way about the Republican party. Whether you believe Jesus is the son of God or not has nothing to do with your economic policies or what you believe works in an economy.
I agree with his conclusion that Republican fiscal policies don’t work, but that’s just my opinion and doesn’t represent what every atheist must, should or does feel. If I were a Christian, I would probably feel the same way about Republican economic issues.
What about on gun issues? Yes, they support the Second Amendment, but to what extent? They want virtually no regulations and that’s crazy. Even if you love your guns, surely you support common sense safety laws, no? Not if you’re the GOP.
Again, I’m not sure what this has to do with a non-belief in God. I’m sure there are gun loving atheists out there who would rather not be regulated.
Belief in God doesn’t equal love of guns. Atheism doesn’t equal support of gun regulation.
All that said, we’ve seen Republican atheists. Edwina Rogers, the former leader of the SCA, worked with a number of conservative Christian Republicans. She was a Republican and used that label.
Dave Silverman of American Atheists tried to go to CPAC, the super-conservative convention, because he wanted to reach out to conservative atheists.
S.E. Cupp is a conservative atheist, even if she says she wishes she could believe in God.
So in other words…the evidence shows that you can be an atheist Republican.
So yes, atheists can be Republican… but why would you wanna be? In this political climate? With these Republicans? Even if you support some of their positions, you should be ashamed of yourself if you’re voting them into office. If your atheism means anything to you, it makes no sense. You are hurting Humanism and skepticism and church/state separation and all things good and unholy by voting for a Republican.
Here he assumes atheists are skeptics or humanists. You can be an atheist and support Christian values.
You can also be skeptical of religious claims, be an atheist, but believe in other things such as Bigfoot, ghosts or alien abductions.
I’m also not sure why people should be ‘ashamed’ for voting the way they see fit. That’s basically democracy at work. Just because atheism means something to one person, doesn’t mean it means the same thing or anything at all to someone else.
And I’m not saying you have to vote for a Democrat. Go ahead. Vote for a third party candidate… if you think that’ll help.
But in nearly every instance in today’s political climate, voting for a Republican candidate, whoever it is, means giving more power to a party that is anti-gay, anti-poor, anti-science, anti-women, and anti-YOU if you’re an atheist.
Perhaps, but that’s their choice. Maybe they support Republicans for their own reasons or perhaps they’re not that well informed on political issues. Many people don’t want to vote for a third party candidate because they feel it’s a wasted vote.
Personally, I don’t like it when people start telling me what atheism should mean to me. Atheism isn’t something I am so that others can tell me what I should think, feel or who I should vote for.
Atheism is a lack of belief in God(s). Nothing more and nothing less. It doesn’t mean I can’t vote Republican if that’s who I choose to vote for.
In fact, most of the points he made in his video are good arguments against voting Republican. Period. Religious affiliation or lack thereof is irrelevant.