May 2, 2009
Given the undeniable influence — some would say “control” — that the religious right has over the Republican Party in the U.S. today, people generally assume that atheists are liberals and evangelicals are conservatives. It’s as wrong as any overgeneralization (there’s liberal evangelical Fred Clark and the conservatives over at Secular Right, just to name two quick exceptions), but it’s as understandable as any overgeneralization given our current politics.
Below the Beltway reminds us that it hasn’t always been this way with this delightful quote from Barry Goldwater:
And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”
Although there are commentators (like the aforementioned John Derbyshire and the rest of the Secular Rightists) who strive to carry on Goldwater’s legacy, there are damn few politicians on the American political right who are willing to say what Goldwater said. And I think all atheists — left, right and center — would benefit from having both major political parties willing to take them seriously and seek out their votes.
Self-described “crazy Mormon liberal” Marshall has written a post explaining why he likes atheists.
In light of our ongoing discussion on this issue, I think the most interesting bit is this:
3. Atheists are moral
Truly moral decisions are not the result of the memorization of codes and laws. True morals require a person to explore issues deeply, examine the difference between right and wrong, and make reasoned decisions about which paths to pursue. Without a belief in God or religion, most atheists I know have taken the responsibility to think through important issues and situations on their own. The end result is that most atheists are highly moral people. The danger with religion is when its laws and creeds are accepted prematurely or applied inappropriately.