So, on our most recent podcast (episode 37), Frank and I discussed how far off America was from the possibility of an atheist candidate being elected to the Presidency of the United States. The answer: pretty fucking far. However, new evidence seems to show that we’re not quite as far off as we may have thought.
The question was prompted by an email from a listener named Andrew who just COULDN’T STOP BRAGGING about how great his homeland of Australia is, ’cause they have “an unmarried atheist female prime minister.” OOOOHHHH! Your Country is soooooo much better than ours, isn’t it Andrew? SO MATURE! “Look at us, we’re Australia. We elect people based on how we think they’ll do in office, rather than irrelevant, extraneous details about their personal lives….” Grow up, Australia.
There are two points I want to make here. The first is that in a parliamentary system, you don’t elect a PM. I’m guessing that Julia Gillard (yeah, that’s right- I googled the shit out of this mo-fo) might have had a tougher time getting the PM position if she had to convince the entire Country to vote her into it. Being elected to a seat in the House of Representatives is by no means an easy feat, but it’s certainly easier than a presidential election. I’m not saying that Aussies absolutely wouldn’t elect a woman like Ms. Gillard to a presidency, I’m just saying it would’ve been a tougher road.
My second point (which I had to think about for a while because having ADHD means that you can forget point b in the course of writing out point a) is that Americans are actually getting closer to being reasonable about the whole atheist thing. Bastion of journalistic excellence USA Today reported on a new poll which showed that over half of Americans (barely over half: 54%) would vote for a “well-qualified” atheist candidate. Mind you- what the poll actually shows is that 54% of Americans will now tell a pollster that they would vote for an atheist, but that’s still an improvement over past polls.
Mind you, as the article points out, atheists are still behind every other group they asked about, including homos and Muslims (I don’t think they asked about homo Muslims), but I still have hope. Considering that when they started asking this question back in 1958 the non-believers were pulling a solid 18%, we’re showing some real progress. We may be only 10-20 years behind the rest of the civilized world, instead of 30!
Go us! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!