Gallup: Record number of Americans would vote for an atheist president

Aug 4, 2015

By Paul Fidalgo

The conventional wisdom has long held that despite the constitutional guarantee of “no religious test” for public office, there could be no greater albatross for a would-be officeholder than to be identified as an atheist.

The data has borne this out for generations. As long as polling on this subject has been conducted, in almost every case, atheists have faced the greatest voter resistance.

While far too many Americans still tell pollsters they could never vote for someone who was gay, lesbian or Muslim, the bottom of this particular political barrel is almost always occupied by atheists.

But for all those nonbelievers who keep their hats on their heads rather than toss them into rings, a new Gallup Poll offers a glimmer of hope.

The percentage of Americans who would vote for a qualified atheist candidate for president has reached 58%, which is 4 points better than it was in 2012, and a whopping 40 point jump from when the question was first asked in 1958. In that year, a mere 18% of Americans could abide the idea of an atheist president.


To read the full article, and see a photo gallery of famous atheists, click the name of the source below.

8 comments on “Gallup: Record number of Americans would vote for an atheist president

  • …atheism stops seeming to voters like an oddity or novelty

    This will have to pertain to the vehicle (candidate) as well, I think.

    To get down to brass tacks / foot in the door / soften the blow, someone such as a respected woman politician in the SW is needed. Unfortunately, for whatever reason(s), she just stopped short of declaring herself ‘atheist’.

    Hats in the ring need to be sellable.



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  • 2
    Cairsley says:

    Perhaps US Americans are finally finding out what the word actually means, and that it has nothing to do with communism or Satanism.



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  • Cairsley
    Aug 5, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Perhaps US Americans are finally finding out what the word actually means,

    Many in the US babble belt, have the disability, that they have only heard explanations of atheism from preachers.

    That’s a bit like trying to understand great circle routes, when you have only heard of them from flat-Earthists!



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  • The sad truth is that radical religions are also gaining ground. The US is a clear example where radicalization is key to politicians (Republicans) which use religion to “defend” their “god given rights” to their land, which in turn is directed to discriminate minorities.
    And many other countries are falling “victim” of pseudo-religions that are exported from the US. Have a look at most latin american countries, which have become a target for invasion of all kinds of churches which only goal is exploitation of the ignorant.
    The matter of fact is that while economically stable countries are grounds for more atheists, the contrary is happening in poor countries. Looks like we are facing, on a global scale, a future without shades of gray, where secularism and theism will have to fight each other.



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  • 5
    Lindsey says:

    As a Pom living in NZ (where being an atheist is no big deal, 2014 election – 74 MP’s swore on a bible and 45 affirmed) I use Facebook (cringe) to stay in touch with UK family and friends. I have noted that when an American link is under discussion and a religious zelot starts to rant the counter posts questioning their beliefs are legion! I suspect the USA has way more young atheists than this debate acknowledges so, no insult intended but the American battle would I believe benefit from having some well known young warriors alongside RD to help concentrate hearts and minds, which would surely help speed up the transition over who can and can’t aspire to a position of political power!



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  • Lindsey
    Aug 6, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    I have noted that when an American link is under discussion and a religious zelot starts to rant the counter posts questioning their beliefs are legion!

    I was recently reading an on-line National Geographic article on Bill Nye and evolution, where the percentage of creationist assertive ignorance in the comments was appalling!



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  • You guys are stuck in a eurocentric view of the United States wrapped in anachronisms and static stereotypes. Obviously America has remained far more religious than Europe in the decades since WWII with regional and local populations far more infected with the idiocies of Christian fundamentalism. But the problem is rooted in history you can easily explore and not in genetics. The time period we are considering covers 1945 to 2015, 70 years, or less than a single lifetime. More importantly is the evolution of the American religious landscape in that (historically) short time. The articles on this site, especially those citing Pew Research have shown Americans moving away from religion at an accelerating pace: The percentage of Americans who would vote for a qualified atheist candidate for president has reached 58%, which is 4 points better than it was in 2012, and a whopping 40 point jump from when the question was first asked in 1958. In that year, a mere 18% of Americans could abide the idea of an atheist president.

    Many factors are driving the trend toward secular forms of humanism away from religious affiliations. (Evangelical Christianity still holds a surprisingly strong position, I suspect, for the same reason that Islamic fundamentalism draws so many young Muslim men today to the ranks of ISIS. The young mind is easily seduced by movements stimulating passion and fanaticism with the promise of expedient apocalyptic mission.)

    The “sleeper” demographic factor maintaining the dichotomy may have been the bloated “baby boom” generation which flooded the pipeline with 70 million people between 1946 and 1963. This generation, despite the unprecedented cultural revolution of the 1960s, closed ranks with the predominantly conservative pious generations born in the 1920s and 1930s to give the religious right significant influence, if not control over political institutions. Those born in the years after 1970 are jelling into a much more sophisticated progressive electorate that will displace the role of traditional religion, both the cosmic and social-values narrative, with a far more tolerant, inclusive secular humanist agenda.



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