Today’s Los Angeles Times has an anti-religion op-ed by our favorite libertarian atheist magician, Penn Jillette. In “Politics and the bugnut Christians,” he goes after the evangelical Republican candidates:
I’ve used pornographic images, obscenity and poetry to try to make even the most doubtful blush, but I’ve never come close to Bachmann’s insult to the gentle, honest faithful when she said the suffering and casualties of natural disasters were her God’s message to wayward politicians. What she said was disgusting and not generally Christian at all. But her blasphemous message was delivered on the news as just that.
Bachmann was a longtime member of the Salem Lutheran Church, a small denomination that has some odd teachings. But even in the broadest definition of Lutherans, there are only about 13.5 million, and that’s not enough to elect you president. Now Bachmann has moved to Eagle Brook, an evangelical church, but even if she wins all the evangelical vote, that gives her only 26.3% of the American people. With those percentages, you need to shut up about religion. You need me on board to show that you won’t sell out all the others.
I’m not so sure about that. Remember that G. W. Bush didn’t shut up about religion, and he won handily. Jillette’s ending is heartwarming, but rings hollow:
Atheists are growing way fast, from under 2% to about 8% just in this century. If you throw in self-labeled agnostics and those who identify as not religious, you’re getting up to around 20%. Evangelicals are about 26%, Catholics about 23%, Jews, 1.7%, Mormons also 1.7% — if you start breaking Christians up into their smaller groups, nonbelievers come close to being the dominant religion, if you can call no religion a religion, like calling not collecting stamps a hobby.
Let’s just hope our politicians keep expanding the group of people they want to serve. Rather than embracing Christian as the magic word of politics, we can move on to the truly magical word: American. And maybe we can even go a step further and make the magic word “humanity.”
Yes, but remember that all those religious groups, theists and deists alike, unite in their opposition to nonbelief. Atheists are still the most reviled group, total non-starters when it comes to a presidential candidacy. True, we’re growing, but a recent Gallup poll shows this percentage of Americans who would NOT vote for a presidential candiate of these persuasions:
Married for the third time 30%
72 years old 42%
Not in my lifetime.