There is good news and bad news in the latest Gallup poll on atheist politicians. For the second time in less than a year, Gallup reports that a majority of Americans would vote for an atheist for president. However, the 54 percent who would vote for an atheist are offset by 43 percent who said they would not vote for an atheist even if she or he was well-qualified.
The 54 percent polled is a remarkable advance since in 1958 only 18 percent said they could vote for a nonbeliever. Not unexpectedly, the highest opposition became from Republicans (58 percent).
For those who argue for faith-based politics, the poll is likely to fuel their warnings of a secular conspiracy. However, for those of us who believe in a high wall of separation, the poll shows that people could be finally moving away from the use of faith by politicians to secure votes and to obscure their record. This is not a trend to reject faith. This remains a deeply faithful country. Rather, it is a slow recognition that civic leadership does not depend on leaders necessarily believing in your God or any God. Notably, there are also many secular leaders who are deeply religious but believe in strong separation of church and state principles. We have many leaders of faith who are deserving of support and this poll suggests that more Americans are willing to consider leaders who are agnostic or atheist rather than impose a religious litmus test. Yet, with 43 percent still saying that they will vote on the basis of religious prejudice, there remains work to be done.
Source: USA Today