More Americans saying Islam encourages violence, would still elect Muslim President before Atheist.

Every now and then someone who’s been impressed with something I’ve said about politics or religion will drop me an email or say to me in person: “You should run for office.”

I always end up laughing at the suggestion and usually I’m asked why I find the idea of running for office so funny and I point out the fact that I’m an atheist. “So what? I’d vote for you.” Is the common reply I tend to get. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it is very flattering, but the truth is that it’s very hard for someone who’s honest about his religious stance as an atheist to get elected beyond most local government positions that most voters don’t pay much attention to anyway.  The truth of this can be found in the regular polls conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the latest of which was published back on July 24th.

The results of this most recent poll probably won’t surprise too many people. The public perception of the religion of Islam is shifting more toward the negative with 44 percent of the American public saying they believe Islam is more likely than other religions “to encourage violence among its believers.” A significant increase from the 25 percent who said this back in March of 2002. Despite this shift in attitude about Islam in general, only 24 percent of Americans hold unfavorable views of Muslim-Americans and only 38 percent (roughly four-in-ten) say they wouldn’t vote for a well-qualified Muslim for President.

Meanwhile, atheists are still regarded as evil scum by the majority of Americans with 52 percent saying they would not vote for a well-qualified atheist for President. Compare that to only 17 percent who wouldn’t vote for a well-qualified evangelical Christian. Clearly I’d have to lie or avoid questions on my religious outlook in oder to run for any significant office.

Most Americans (53 percent) still oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally as compared with 38 percent who support the idea, but this is actually good news as this is a significant shift from the 65 percent in 1996 who felt homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to marry. The only two segments of society where a shift in attitude on gay marriages hasn’t changed since 1996 are with white evangelical Protestants (no big surprise) and African Americans (this did surprise me).

“This finding underscores an important fact of American politics,” said E.J. Dionne Jr., co-chair of the Pew Forum and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “On questions of religion and morality there’s a remarkable overlap in views of white evangelicals and African Americans, yet these groups couldn’t be more different when it comes to questions of partisan politics and President Bush.”

The shift in public opinion on allowing gay marriages is probably what is causing the President and other Republicans to suddenly scramble on getting something done to make it permanently illegal while they still have (narrow) majority support on the issue. The amendment route is popular because it would put it beyond the reach of the Supreme Court to overrule and with the shift in public attitudes that appears to be in the future on this issue it wouldn’t be surprising if the Supreme Court did throw such a law out in the future just as they have with regards to the Texas sodomy law. Of course, they seem to forget that even amendments can be repealed (see: prohibition).

Some other findings:

—Religious beliefs also play a significant role in Americans’ understanding of foreign affairs. More than four-in-ten Americans (44 percent) believe that God gave the land that is now Israel to the Jewish people, while a substantial minority (36 percent) thinks that the modern state of Israel is a “fulfillment of the biblical prophesy about the second coming of Jesus.” [Which just goes to show you how dangerous it is to mix politics and religion. -ed.]

—The public at large is quite comfortable with President Bush’s evocation of faith and what many perceive as his reliance on religious beliefs in making policy decisions. A 62 percent majority thinks Bush strikes the right balance in how much he mentions his religious faith, and nearly as many (58 percent) believe the president’s reliance on religion in policymaking is appropriate.

—Fully 72 percent of Americans agree that the government should provide universal health insurance, even if it means repealing most tax cuts passed since President Bush took office. Democrats overwhelmingly favor this proposal (86 percent – 11 percent) and independents largely agree (78 percent – 19 percent). Even a narrow majority of Republicans (51 percent) favor providing health insurance for all even if it means canceling the tax cuts, while 44 percent disagree. [Probably the only other bit of good news to come out of this poll. -ed.]

The nationwide survey of 2,002 adults was conducted June 24-July 8 by the Pew Forum and the Pew Research Center and has a margin of error plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

So, needless to say, I won’t be running for President anytime soon even if I do seem like I have more than the usual amount of common sense to some of you.

9 thoughts on “More Americans saying Islam encourages violence, would still elect Muslim President before Atheist.

  1. Les, if you get the nomination, I have an excellent choice for your Secretary of Defense smile  I really don

  2. I don’t know of any Christians that define Muslims as another form of atheist. They do qualify as Pagan, but then Pagan was a word created by the Catholics that pretty much means anyone who believes in a God or Gods other than the Christian God. Being an atheist is generally considered by a lot of people to be the worst you can be because of the lack of faith involved. The implication I most often get seems to be that even though the Muslims and the Wiccans are believing in the wrong God, at least they have faith and thus are better than those wicked, evil atheists.

    I’m not exactly a gay advocate myself. I’m just of the same opinion as the Founding Fathers which is pretty much: As long as you’re not harming the person or property of another, do whatever the hell you think you should be doing. If some people find themselves attracted to members of the same gender and can find consenting partners to set up relationships with and aren’t hurting anyone in the process, then I don’t see why they shouldn’t be entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual people.

  3. Faith is a dangerous thing.  How can the willful abandonment of reason be considered a bonus in regard to modern governance?  Sure, I might cite the Bible to make a literary analogy, the same way I might quote The Lord of the Rings, Catcher in the Rye, or Dumb and Dumber – its a natural way to communicate in a media-rich society.  But these people and their Books….

  4. Les

    correction:
    there is no believe in “theh wrong God”

    Muslim, Christain and Jew alike belive in the same God

  5. I disagree. While both Christianity and Islam use Judaism as their foundation, the Gods each define is very different from one another in many respects.

  6. The way it’s been explained to me by christians is like this: (abridged version)
    At some point god (the jewish one) looked down and thought “Wow this isn’t working as intended!”. And thus he sent Jesus.
    The way it’s been explained to me by muslims is like this:
    At some later point (still the jewish one) looked down and thought “Wow this still isn”t working as intended!”. And so he picked Mohammed and told him to wright a book,
    now known as al’Quran or the third testament.
    Always the same god just feeling humans needed some additional info to get it.

  7. Golix, would you mind asking the Christians what God’s favorite color is. I’m building him a bookshelf to contain all his books and I want to paint it a festive color.

  8. All religions are crazy! They are based on crap. They are the root cause of most of the unrest in the world today. If we suddenly had no religions, the middle east would be peaceful,there would be no terrrorists, india and pakistan would cease to live in a state of tension and so on…to drag these pox ridden remnants of antiquity into the next century, will sound the death knell for human enlightenment and progress,like putting an orangatung in charge of a star ship, or giving it a book on human ethics, tolerance and reason,
    and expecting the ape, not only to read it, but to understand what is being said, and act upon it…it ain’t gonna happen…

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