Contact: Ron Millar, (202) 238-9088 ext 201, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, D.C., December 11, 2018) – Although the U.S. Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office, one of the greatest taboos in American politics has been for a candidate to be an atheist. A new poll conducted by Lake Research Partners for the American Humanist Association and the Center for Freethought Equality found that “being non-religious or atheist need not be considered an impediment to a candidate’s electoral success.”
The results of the poll indicate that there is a growing preference for secular leaders, and that a majority of voters across every demographic prioritize other political concerns over issues of religious faith or lack thereof. Preference for religious candidates virtually disappears when voters consider the policy stances of a non-religious candidate. Seventy-two percent of poll respondents were willing to vote for a non-believer or non-religious candidate who shares their policy positions.
“It’s heartening to see that the political bias against atheist and humanist candidates is disappearing,” says Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association and the Center for Freethought Equality. Speckhardt continues, “This poll demonstrates that voters care more about a candidate’s policy stances, than his or her religious identification.”
For voters who support pro-choice and pro-marriage equality Democratic candidates, 74 percent said that a candidate being “non-religious” or “agnostic” would make no difference in their vote. An additional 14 percent said they would be even more likely to vote for the non-religious or agnostic candidate. When the term “atheist” was used, support for the candidate only dropped slightly (72% no difference in their vote and 10% more likely to vote for the candidate).
Not surprisingly, results of the poll did vary by political party. Forty-eight percent of Republicans said they would be less likely to vote for an atheist candidate who shared their political positions; however, most younger Republicans (68% of those under 35 and 54% of those under 50) said that a candidate’s atheism would make no difference to them.
“People who have stayed out of the political arena because of the bias against atheists and agnostics should be encouraged by these findings,” says Ron Millar, Political and PAC Coordinator at the Center for Freethought Equality. Millar urges, “the humanist, atheist, and agnostic community to be fully and openly engaged in our democratic process. Our political system depends on the active participation of all our citizens.”
The American Humanist Association works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
The Center for Freethought Equality is a sister organization of the American Humanist Association dedicated to lobbying and political advocacy. The CFE significantly increases humanist activity in key Washington coalitions, and has established a permanent lobbyist on the Hill that fights for issues secular Americans care about like the separation of church and state and protecting civil liberties.