An Appeal to my Fellow Nonbelievers
I don’t often write about religion, but this time that’s actually the topic of my post. It might also be my most personal post to date, so bear with me. I have two observations I’d like to share with you and then briefly reflect upon.
As a nonbeliever, the first observation I have made is that I am often confronted by other nonbelievers over my political preference(s). For example, the fact that I support Governor Romney over President Obama often appears to be a capital offense. Questions such as “How can you support a Mormon for president?” and “What about the Republican War on Women?” tend to be fairly common in an aggressive line of questioning.
I would submit to you that there are a host of issues that everyone, regardless of faith or lack thereof, should appreciate. Support of a limited government, a strong defense, a responsible foreign policy, the protection of individual liberties, and the promotion of the free market are just some examples.
The second observation is that religious Republicans and conservatives that I have befriended over the years never have seemed to care much about my religious preference. In fact, most have never inquired about it. It might be because they simply are pleased to have another voice on their side, or because my sample of friends suffers from selection bias. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful to feel welcomed on this side of the aisle.
Recently, back in June, Gallup released a poll showing that a mere 48% of Republicans would vote for an atheist as a candidate for the highest office. Among Democrats, who enjoy pretending that they are the most tolerant people on earth, the number wasn’t much higher when it clocked in at 58%.
There might be several reasons as to why Republicans remain cautious of nonbelievers. Without a doubt, one of them is probably found in the fact that most nonbelievers who end up in the public eye are fiercely left-wing, displaying a public image of nonbelievers as loudmouths opposed to religion in both the public and private sphere. Based on the above it should not come as a surprise to find that Republicans, of which a large portion is highly committed to their religion, are skeptical of nonbelievers and take it into account when answering such a survey.
If Republicans were exposed to a nonbeliever who shares their convictions, I’m sure that the number significantly would increase. The trouble is finding them. However, the left-tilt among nonbelievers does not include all of us. Secular writers such as John Derbyshire, Heather Mac Donald, and Andrew Stuttaford all come to mind as examples of secular, right-of-center writers in the United States today.
To those nonbelievers who are reading this I have a fairly simple request. When you decide on what politicians to support, don’t only focus on whether that person shares your lack of belief or not. Instead you should carefully think over your political positions and preferences before making your decision. Listen to Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan, and other who have articulated the simple, yet beautiful, case for free minds and free markets.
In short, it’s fairly simple. I align myself with those who agree with my policy positions, and whether those people are Mormon, Catholic, Baptist or something else is completely irrelevant to my final decision on whether I support them or not. Consider the opposite scenario; a candidate that is standing for office who shares the views of the empty chair, or Dennis Kucinich. Even if that person happen to be a fellow nonbeliever, that would not be enough justification for me to throw my support behind that person.
Come inauguration day in January the leader of the free world will be a Mormon and I will be filled with joy to see him sworn into the most prestigious office in the world.
One last thing before I end this article.
If you’re a person of faith I’d like to ask you to keep an open mind about nonbelievers and attempt to convince them of the promise of individual liberty and the American idea that at the moment is embodied by Romney and Ryan. Assuming that those of us who don’t share your faith automatically belong on the other side of the aisle is a mistake, and I hope that you will welcome them in the same way as you have welcomed me.
Thomas is found on Twitter as @ThomasRatPol