No 72-Year-Old Homosexual Atheists, Please

Via Atrios, a chart about the preferences of American voters:

Yes, would
vote for

No, would not
vote for

%

%

Catholic

95

4

Black

94

5

Jewish

92

7

A woman

88

11

Hispanic

87

12

Mormon

72

24

Married for the third time

67

30

72 years of age

57

42

A homosexual

55

43

An atheist

45

53

(But what about a German?)

Two observations.  First, we should keep separate how many voters really hold these views from what they are willing to hear themselves tell someone else out loud.  There’s likely more anti-black prejudice out there, for instance, than these numbers are revealing.  The groupings above correspond exactly to the rank-order of social acceptability of various prejudices in the U.S. — that is, how comfortable you’d feel confessing to this prejudice in front of a table to strangers.  You’d have to get a lot more creative, like these folks did, to find out the actual prevalence of these prejudices.

Second, of course, you’ll probably vote for a Mormon or a divorce if you can’t stand his opponent, or his opponent’s policies.  Probably not the same for homosexuals and atheists, though — they appear to be radioactive.  Bad news for McCain is that 72-year-olds like him are almost as radioactive as gays!  Pretty surprising. I’m still sticking to my prediction, though.

19 thoughts on “No 72-Year-Old Homosexual Atheists, Please

  1. That is one thing I probably will never understand. You americans (i know, i know beware of stereotypes) pride yourself on religious freedom, hell would there be aztecs still alive you probably wouldn’t have any problem with them sacrificing there enemies, but if it is an atheist we are talking about all hell breaks loose. Weren’t most of your old time heroes, Washington, Franklin
    and Jefferson, humanists ( which I think is code for atheist in the U.S. like Asimov and Vonnegut)?

  2. What makes one wonder as well is why “black” is still a category nowadays. Even if you presume that it does make any sense to define someone as being black (why is a child of a negro father and caucasian woman always considered black and not white?), isn’t the mere fact that they still have this category an expression of prejudice and inequality?

  3. @Volker:

    You americans (i know, i know beware of stereotypes) pride yourself on religious freedom, hell would there be aztecs still alive you probably wouldn’t have any problem with them sacrificing there enemies, but if it is an atheist we are talking about all hell breaks loose.

    Religious freedom in the US extends mainly to the various Protestant sects. Even Catholics have historically found themselves subjected to intense mistrust.

  4. “Religious freedom in the US extends mainly to the various Protestant sects. Even Catholics have historically found themselves subjected to intense mistrust.”

    A load of tripe, Sebastian, at least when stated in the present tense. I am an American Catholic and have never seen any sign of this. The 1960 election was the very last vestige of a predjudice which had functionally died at least 20 years before that.

    During the 1840’s, certainly. Although it never rose to the degree that the state-driven religious repression did. Catholics were suspect to many of the other sects of Christianity because (not to put too fine a poitnon it) Catholic monarchies in Central Europe were far the most repressive to non-Catholics, even at that late date.

    Many US Catholics were Irish of course, and there was a lot of ill-will between Irish Catholics and the ‘sassanaugh’ – the English Prots or their descendents in the US – such as the Puritan-descended ‘Brahmins’ of Boston. But by 1940 the Irish had taken political and economic control of many of the old Brahmin strongholds in politics, on Wall Street, the professions, and even were beginning to push into the universities, the cheeky beggars!

  5. “hell would there be aztecs still alive you probably wouldn’t have any problem with them sacrificing there enemies, but if it is an atheist we are talking about all hell breaks loose”

    Yes, Volker. An – interesting theory. The US tolerates the religious making war on their ememies but burns poor innocent atheists at the stake.

    Satisfy my curiosity if you would – what news sources to you follow for current affairs?

  6. Volker, I’m Catholic–albeit burdened with doubts and limping along like a figure in a Graham Greene novel–but I can assure you I have never experienced any prejudice, or heard of any prejudice, against Catholics in the U.S. Historically, yes, there was, but that was quite a long time ago. As Don points out, Catholics had become part of the “establishment” by the 1940s, probably well before then.

    Aztecs sacrificing their enemies in the U.S.? You jest, sir.

    It is true that Paine was an atheist. Franklin and Jefferson were deists. It is interesting that you point this out, given the present religious fervor in Washington, with so many politicians claiming to be speaking for a higher power and denigrating everyone else not subscribing to their brand of faith. The irony is that the nation’s founders would have been appalled by them.

    Easy to imagine…. Jefferson, Franklin, Paine returning through a time warp and knocking on the door of the White House. Mr. Bush emerging and proposing extraordinary rendition: “Send those gentlemen to Guantanamo! They’re a threat to freedom.”

  7. When a similar survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in 2007, people were also asked about a Muslim presidential candidate. The result: “[T]he survey found two groups, atheists and Muslims, were even less likely to win votes [than a presidential candidate who is Mormon]” (USA Today). Why didn’t Gallup also asked about Muslims?

    There’s a fascinating (well, for me as an uninvolved Atheist living in Germany it’s fascinating because it’s so unbelievable) sociological article from 2006 describing Atheists as “America’s Most Distrusted Minority”. Atheism is seen as a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society where people associate atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism and Atheists are typically seen as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.

    I really like the following results from the article, especially the answers to the question about a potential marriage candidate. (full text, PDF):

    Table 1. Public and Private Acceptance, Ranked Groups [Responses %]

    This Group Does Not At All Agree with My Vision of American Society
    —Atheists 39.6
    —Muslims 26.3
    —Homosexuals 22.6
    —Conservative Christians 13.5
    —Recent Immigrants 12.5
    —Hispanics 7.6
    —Jews 7.4
    —Asian Americans 7.0
    —African Americans 4.6
    —White Americans 2.2

    I Would Disapprove if My Child Wanted to Marry a Member of This Group
    —Atheist 47.6
    —Muslim 33.5
    —African American 27.2
    —Asian American 18.5
    —Hispanic 18.5
    —Jew 11.8
    —Conservative Christian 6.9
    —White 2.3

    Source: American Mosaic Project Survey, 2003.

  8. @Don & Paul:
    “Aztecs sacrificing their enemies in the U.S.? You jest, sir.”
    Wasn’t that obvious? I have to start putting those little smilies at the end of an sentence, like this one ;).
    “what news sources to you follow for current affairs?”
    This isn’t the first survey I see that shows how most U.S. Americans dislike atheists, although they are not burned on the stake, as you put it, btw, what is with you and these poor innocent atheists? Have I struck a nerve?
    And for my news sources, NY times, Washington Post, Times Magazine and many more, if you have to know.
    And some reading material, just for you:
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-09-18-atheists_x.htm
    The “nice people” ones:
    http://www.sfatheists.com
    And the “missionarie” ones (they are a little hectic):
    http://www.positiveatheism.org/

  9. Attention: Lunatic Atheists & their Lawyers

    Priceless. And just another gem:

    “You Helped This Happen”. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson react to the September 11 terrorist attacks on American soil:

    JERRY FALWELL: And I agree totally with you that the Lord has protected us so wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we’ve been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters – the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats–what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact–if, in fact–God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

    PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that’s my feeling. I think we’ve just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven’t even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

    JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this.

    PAT ROBERTSON: Well, yes.

    JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way–all of them who have tried to secularize America–I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”

  10. “This isn’t the first survey I see that shows how most U.S. Americans dislike atheists, although they are not burned on the stake, as you put it, btw, what is with you and these poor innocent atheists? Have I struck a nerve?”

    Perhasp you have. It’s amazing. One can go along for a very long time thinking that many Europeans are very reasonable people who actually undertand the US pretty well, then someone writes something like you did and rips away all one’s illusions.

    There is something called freedom of speech. I believe this also exists in Germany (correct me if I’m wrong, please).

    There is a clearly related concept (or so we hold in the US) – Freedom of Thought. If I hold ill opinions about blue people (they smell, talk funny, or whatever) – I am free to think it and express it. If in turn blue people hold ill opinions of those like me, they are equally free to think that and even express it. It is only when opinions are translated into concrete action that there is a problem. So I cannot murder blue people and bury im my garden, or discriminate against them on the job.

    Religious people are free to hold ill opinions of atheist people, and conversely. And they do. I personally think both kinds of people are being rather stupid, but there it is.

    Another thing is there is a split between the concrete and the abstract. A religious American may well dislike ‘atheists’ in the abstract, but like all the atheists whom he personally knows. The abstract is what is shown in polls like these, but it’s the specific which really counts in behavior.

  11. Hey Don!
    You’re right, Freedom of speech exists in Germany (Artikel 5 GG – Meinungs und Pressefreiheit)
    But aren’t you yourself just harassing the german freedom of speech by writing this? As much as americans have the right to have an own opinion about atheism, so have others (in this case europeans) the right not to understand the american perspective. (and even write about it too!)

    Or did’t you just hint, by mentioning the german freedom of speech, that they shouldn’t criticize the american view and at best shut up?

    Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters – Rosa Luxemburg.
    (so much for connecting atheism and communism)

  12. @Don: In which way is not voting for an atheist, just because he is an atheist, less discriminating than not voting for a black or a mormon, just because they are black or mormon?
    Freedom of speech is saying that you disagree with atheists.
    Freedom of speech is not, not voting for someone just because you don’t like
    his lack of faith regardless of (sp?) if you like his policies or not.
    However I strongly do believe that the U.S. is more open than the rest of the world when it comes to faith. But I also do believe that wherever there are strong convictions, people will act on them.

  13. “@Don: In which way is not voting for an atheist, just because he is an atheist, less discriminating than not voting for a black or a mormon, just because they are black or mormon?”

    Chances are that thee would be a Christian in the race. In fact all of the candidates in Presidential contests tend to be Christians of one kind or another, the differences tend to be to what degree the different candidates wear their religion on their sleeves.

    Huckabee is the champion this year. You can look at it two ways – Huckabee is the weakest of the remaining candidates and therefore the strategy hasn’t worked, or you can note that Huckabee is still standing and therefore it has. Both are true, I think. Huckabees religosity has helped him win the votes of a significant minority of the US populace but has hurt the hell out of him with the majority – who aren’t comfortable with a creationist as President.

    That is precisely the same question as you raise about athiests, BTW – isn’t voting against someone because they are a creationist OR an athiest filthy discrimination?

    An open athiest most likely won’t be elected president. Not so much because of the minority who won’t vote for an atheist as because people tend to vote for candidates whom they understand and empathise with, and whom they believe understand and empathise with them in turn. Most US voters aren’t atheists, so an open atheist would have to be overwhelmingly better in many other factors to win, and most political contests aren’t so clear cut.

    BTW, it’s that ‘US’ factor which is Barack Obama’s greatest political victory; he is the first negro candidate who has managed to pull that off. Hillary Clinton is not ‘US’ to an enormous number of Americans. For me Barack Obama’s greatest attraction is that he is a reflection of America as I would like it to be, of America as I really believe it is at the core. Both Clinton and McCain are too divisive, too hating, Clinton much more so than McCain. I see Clinton as a hater, McCain as having a temper and little patience with fools.

  14. “Or did’t you just hint, by mentioning the german freedom of speech, that they shouldn’t criticize the american view and at best shut up?

    Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters – Rosa Luxemburg.”

    I thought it was the other way around – you sayign I was clearly wrong so I should shut the hell up! 😉

    Maybe both of us have the right to open our yaps and say what we think?

  15. “Or did’t you just hint, by mentioning the german freedom of speech, that they shouldn’t criticize the american view and at best shut up?

    Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters – Rosa Luxemburg.”

    I thought it was the other way around – you sayign I was clearly wrong so I should shut the hell up! 😉

    Maybe both of us have the right to open our yaps and say what we think?

  16. “Or did’t you just hint, by mentioning the german freedom of speech, that they shouldn’t criticize the american view and at best shut up?

    Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters – Rosa Luxemburg.”

    I thought it was the other way around – you sayign I was clearly wrong so I should shut the hell up! 😉

    Maybe both of us have the right to open our yaps and say what we think?

  17. @Don: “It is only when opinions are translated into concrete action that there is a problem. So I cannot murder blue people and bury im my garden, or discriminate against them on the job.”

    Discrimination against atheists on the job is exactly what happened in this case.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.