As the presidential candidates come together to discuss faith and issues of morality -- at Saddleback last week and at the Democratic National Convention this week, there's a large contingent feeling excluded. American atheist and agnostic voters are increasingly feeling left out of the debate or flat out ignored and taken for granted as politicians scramble to better woo the "faithful" .
Rakoto's Rants (a Malagasy blogger living in the U.S.) draws comparisons between the United States and his home country:
Scandinavian nations are at the top of the list which does not include any African nations.
in Madagascar, traditional beliefs, Christianity (45%) and Islam (7%) account for 99% of the population. A Council regrouping the principal Churches of Madagascar (FFKM) has been historically very involved into the political life of Madagascar.
Yet, there were more openly "secular"presidents in Madagascar's history that in the US history (Thomas Jefferson being the only known atheist American president).
He then ponders the correlation between the open show of faith and electability:
So again, why is openly showing its faith a sine qua non for "electability" ? And how does one correlate the candidates' faiths with the ability to govern a country ?
I imagine there are no quick easy answer to that question although I assume that the history of the founding fathers escaping religious persecution has got to be a factor.
Please understand that those questions are born from the desire to comprehend the decision-making process of the common elector during the elections from an outsider's perspective.
Blogger Bush Out is surprised that the majority of voters would sooner vote for a Jew or a woman than an atheist:
Atrios links to these Gallup results. It's pretty sad that 11% of US voters would not even consider voting for a woman. But the really scary stat is that a majority of US voters would never vote for an atheist.
Also interesting that 92% would vote for a Jew, but the question of voting for a Muslim was not even asked!
A commenter, Bukko_in_Australia, demonstrates one side of U.S. opinion:
One of the things on TV that embarrasses me most about my countrymen, aside from the clowns on Jerry Springer, Dr. Phil and Judge Judy, are their constant references to God and prayer. Makes Yanks sound like a bunch of gibbering superstitious Third-Worlders.
eat lard, in a post entitled "The Atheist Manifesto," discusses how atheists are regularly relegated to the category of those with no belief structure or morals:
In the great Democrat litmus test recently Senators Obama and Clinton showed that both a Woman and Black was conceivable and realistic as a choice of the people' Chief Executive. But polling numbers above have ruled out a non-religious President of the United States. It's not surprising therefore that 'Shares our Values' is a consistent and accurate measure of a voter's personal preference for a candidate.
Despite the popular idea that values must be religious, I ask you, is it hard to imagine that atheists have values and make conscious choices to live by them? That our values should differ, like our belief structures do but that they stem from choice, experience and commonsense is so hard to imagine?
Daniel Cuevas, a Puerto-Rican blogger writing for WeOp-Ed, discusses the Latino vote as it relates to the spectrum of religion:
At the risk of using sweeping generalizations, I don't think that most people would doubt that blacks and Latinos are people of faith. Latinos pray almost as many times a day as Muslims, and blacks are the only people I know whose voice mail greetings are most likely to tell callers to have "a blessed day." Like the Christian Right and the Republicans who pander to that voting bloc, Latinos and blacks invoke God into their personal lives on a daily basis, and not just when they take the Lord's name into vain, either.
Liberals, on the other hand, are widely regarded as being secular and atheist. Most white college professors are both liberal and secular to the point where they actually look down on people who believe in God. Most white liberals couldn't care less that the right wing segment of American media label them as Godless and blame them for everything from the overblown "war on Christmas" to an alleged opposition to school prayer...but Latinos care.