I’m Not Gay, But I Am Jealous

May 27, 2015

By Herb Silverman

I give two cheers for the NBC/WSJ poll that shows Americans would prefer a gay presidential candidate to an evangelical one. That, to me, is a twofer — acceptance of gays and discomfort with evangelicals. But I don’t yet give three cheers because Americans would still prefer an evangelical president to an atheist.

Since 1937, Gallup has been asking people whether they would vote for a generally well-qualified presidential candidate nominated by their party if the nominee happened to be a Catholic, Mormon, black, female, atheist, etc.

Gays were not even included in the survey until 1978, and they ranked last. Today atheists are at the bottom. The good news is that there is now less discrimination against all minorities — and in 2012 for the first time a poll indicated that a slim majority (54 percent) would consider voting for an atheist.

Another advance for gays but not atheists is in the Boy Scouts. That organization’s modified policy now allows gays to become scouts and leaders. Atheists, however, continue to be excluded, apparently because the Boy Scout oath implies that an atheist boy can’t be “morally straight” unless he can do his “duty to God.” Perhaps one day the Boy Scouts will become as tolerant as the Girl Scouts, who don’t discriminate against any girls.


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6 comments on “I’m Not Gay, But I Am Jealous

  • Lesson #3 about allies is a tricky one. There is some logic to the argument that moderate religious people who have no issue with atheists should be courted but the comparison with gays and straights falls down. It’s almost impossible for atheists to restrict attacks only to the extremes of religious belief. If you attack the bible/koran etc then many moderate believers will feel attacked too, even if they accept that the attack is valid.

    Gay people never mocked straight people in the way that atheists mock religion, so acquiring allies was easier for them.

    Of course, we could try not attacking/mocking religion but didn’t we try that up to the 1990s or so and get exactly nowhere?



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  • Gays had such a bad reputation because Christians vilified them, and told the most outrageous stories. Until the 1970s, gays were too terrified to come forward and correct the stereotypes just by existing openly. Atheists have to do the same thing.

    I remember arguing circa 1970 it would be a wonderful thing if every gay person suddenly had their left hand turn green. When everyone saw what a diverse lot we were, the stereotypes would collapse.

    The problem is, it is so easy for atheists to hide in the closet, even easier than for gays.



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  • The lesson is: don’t give too much credence to opinion polls. People answer in ways that they think shows them in the best light and that “light” is as much fashion as anything else.
    Carry on the good work Hank and everyone, but place your hopes in truth, logic and evidence rather than opinion polls and focus groups.



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  • I believe the Scouts in Britain have done away with both “God” and the Queen in their pledge upon joining.

    The Scouts in Britain retain their promise: On my honour, I promise that I will do my best, to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law.

    However, there are variations of the promise which can be used by those for whom this wouldn’t be appropriate. For instance, “to do my duty to God” can be replaced by “to uphold our Scout values”.



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