September 6th, 2012
03:24 PM ET
Conventions leave atheists asking: What political party represents me?
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – This convention season has not been good for atheists.
The word "God" was reinserted in the Democratic platform after it had been removed. A plan to raise atheist billboards in the convention cities was stymied by opponents. And though there were preachers and rabbis and other religious leaders opening and closing each day of each convention, there wasn’t an avowed atheist talking up unbelief on either convention’s speaking list.
The political lockout has left many nonbelievers asking, “What political party represents me?”
“We are deeply saddened by the exclusion of a large number of Americans by both parties,” said Teresa MacBain, a spokeswoman for the group American Atheists, in an interview on Thursday. “It amazes me that in modern-day America, so much prejudice still exists.”
After word spread Wednesday that Democrats left God out of their platform, atheists rejoiced. “Truly amazing news,” wrote Loren Miller on Atheist Nexus, a popular atheist blog. “The Republicans remain in the firm grasp of right-wing Christian religiosity, and I really don't know what it's going to take to free them from it.”
But the convention committee immediately received huge pressure get God back in the platform. Even President Obama, according to CNN reporting, said, “Why on earth would that have been taken out?” when he first heard of the omission.
In an awkward session that required three voice votes on the convention floor, the Democrats opted to add “God” back to the platform.
For atheists, the Democrats were seen to be taking away a hard-fought victory. “We had 24 hours of joy as we felt (that) finally our government values all people,” said MacBain. “But that was short-lived. The vote last night angered many atheists and left them feeling excluded once again.”
Online, atheist websites and Facebook pages went from upbeat to downcast as news spread of the platform revision.
“Obama was the first president to acknowledge non believers,” Mark Musante wrote on the American Atheists’ Facebook page. “I wish he would stick to his guns.”
Musante was referring to Obama’s 2009 inauguration speech, when the president said, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers.”
Beverly Sitherwood, on the Friendly Atheist blog Facebook page, accused the Democrats of “Pandering for power.”
Some atheist leaders used the platform defeat as a rallying call.
“I guess a tiny step was too much to ask for,” David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, told CNN. “This was a clear message to the 16% of the voting population - we don’t count. Well, guess what, Dems - we do. And we vote.”
Silverman says that 16% of the voting public identify as nonbelievers. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 12% of the electorate in 2008 was made up of people with no religious affiliation, though experts say the number of avowed atheists is much smaller.
While acknowledging atheists, Obama has given platforms to high-profile religious leaders, including Rick Warren, a megachurch pastor who prayed at his inauguration, and Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is giving the final prayer of the convention on Thursday night.
American Atheists’ plans to raise billboards ridiculing the presidential candidates’ faith ended in failure. After the group put up billboards in Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of the Democratic National Convention, last month, it quickly removed them due to “physical threats to not only our staff, but the billboard company as well.”
American Atheists had also planned on a billboard in Tampa, Florida, to coincide with the Republican National Convention there. But American Atheists said that all the billboard companies in Tampa rejected a sign taking aim at GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith.
Perhaps because of the Republican Party’s ties to conservative Christianity, atheists tend to be Democrats. According to a 2012 Pew study, 71% of Americans who identified as atheist were Democrats.
“The Republicans who spoke at the RNC seemed more like televangelists than politicians,” MacBain said. “The message was clear from the RNC: Get God, or get out.”
The Republican’s 2012 platform mentions God 12 times, many of which describe the “God-given” rights that the Republican Party says are inherent to the American idea.
Though most atheist groups claim that there are closeted atheists serving as representatives and senators, only one has come out as such.
In September 2007, Rep. Pete Stark, Democrat of California, affirmed his atheism in a speech at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
I'm an atheist and I don't feel left out. I do think religion does have too much influence in Government, but I believe everyone should be represented fairly. I don't hate religious people, most are very nice and most of my friends are religious. But like many folks, I wish the American people had more choice in their leadership options. I agree with some of what they are each saying but find myself leaning towards the Republicans. I would have preferred Ron Paul.
Thank you for your sound reasoning. Nice to know not all atheists attack.
the upcoming election will prove two points.
(a) that christians are believers according to convenience, and
(b) that republican christians are republicans first and christians second
Romney is a mormon which is a religion that, as well as co-optingsome parts and characters from the bible word for word, also contradicts and makes a mockery of so many key christian religious beliefs that it should be a bigger issue to christians than gay marriage and abortion. But ... the same way as christians always pick and choose which parts of the bible to loudly proclaim and which parts of the bible to pretend don't exist ... they will ignore all these issues and vote for Romney anyway.
Christians: what do you think God/Jesus will think of you if you give your vote to a man who truly believes that he will one day be a God? Or a man who truly believes that Joseph Smith, a 19th century reknowned con-man, is an equal of Jesus?
What a joke!
Dead s-exy underwear though, you have to admit. Mmmm – I'm picturing Ann Romney right now wearing the latest in Frederick's of Kolob! Hot, hot, hot!
A country that accords ancient fairy tales legitimacy will never rise above mediocrity at best...
Seeing as how the two greatest empires in history are Rome and America, I'd say you missed that one sparky.
Willful ignorance tends to limit innovation and progress
History shows the opposite, and as God got pushed out of everything this empire we call America started to wind down. I hope I am right and there is a God because with the fiscal irresponsibility both parties have and continue to engage in we are gonna need "that magical wizard in the sky". Technology might come to the rescue with some new energy source. But if our scientist can't find it I hope an angel oopppps I mean an alien will discretely reveal it to an American scientist, that would precede with the knowledge in a way that benefits this country.
I hope it is clear that I am kind of joking. But in all seriousness the worlds economy is about to collapse, or so it seems to me. It seems to be not if but when. Can everybody agree to disagree and try to find solutions. As long as the "fundys", or any other group refuse rational dialog, " it ain't gonna happen". Followers of Christ have never been a threat , religion practiced under the name of Christianity has been a threat in the past. But at this moment in time "jihad" extreme Islamic people represent all that is evil about religion. These folks are determined to rule the world and have proved themselves to be a real and serious threat to most of us posting here if not all . The screwed up economy and the threat of jihad are things most of us can agree on, are there any solutions we can agree on. I doubt it so self destruction here we come.
"Seperation of Church and State"- not my idea but a good one! and apparently our founding fathers thought so to. – this comment dedicated to the foolishness of religoin
amen religion is foolish and was created by man and despised by Jesus
What's a political platform without a little hocus pocus? So funny considering supernatural beings don't exist or vote.
But they do influence politicians to decide the fate of millions based on their belief in this "hocus pocus"
Really, atheists? Your feelings are hurt? No party represents you? Who says we have to have a party represent us? I could care less if they mention God, or Allah, or Vishnu, or whatever other deity they want to invoke. If you try to force me to attend church or pass laws that are faith based, then we're going to have issues.
unless you've been living under a rock I should think you have a list of issues by now
I am an Atheist. Proudly. But come on Atheists, just because there is no God, doesn't mean that the word "God" shouldn't be in the Democratic platform. A belief in God reflects more of the country's population than a non-belief so it has to be there to accourately reflect the Democratic Party. We do ourselves a disservice sounding like religious zealots when we argue about things like this.
Another 10 or 20 generations and the human race will look on the christian God and Jesus the same way as we look on Zeus and Thor and Ra (and santa claus and the tooth fairy) today. Don't sweat it.
I agree. But just cause a majority believes in something doesnt make it all inclusive. It is not a political position, it has no place in a political platform.
The downside is that we'll continue to have christards like Bush who utilize their military to invade other countries and murder tens of thousands of innocent civilians all because their god told them, "it's the right thing to do".
I think the real insult is that they put "god" in there just to placate republicans, not because they really care one way or the other about it. It's the exact same reason why there are so many Latino speakers. What have they done for god or mexicans before the election year? There is not supposed to be any of the nonsense about religion in government anyway.
Atheists do not need a party to represent them. Regardless, I'm a die hard atheist yet consider myself a republican who believes in a woman's right to chose and that freedom of religion is a persons right. It might come as a surprise to some but the most fanatical, irrational, religious people I've met in my life were all democrats.
That's very surprising.... Althought not as surprising as you being a republican an advocating womens' rights.
You must not get out much...
"Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man - living in the sky - who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do.. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time! ..But He loves you." -George Carlin
Christians inserting "god" into the party platform leaves out more than atheists, it alienates all religions except christianity.
So much for the land of equality.
I really don't think it would be a good idea to put someone into office who honestly felt that the majority of humanity was suffering from some sort of delusion, and that they were among a small, elite group of those who were "enlightened". Actually, that sounds like just another type of fringe, whacko religion.
Obama knows the atheists will vote for him anyway. If they are really serious about that statement "we do count, and we vote" Then they will vote for Gary Johnson instead of Obama. Otherwise they're all talk.
I'll be voting for Johnson.
I'll be voting with my Johnson
So why will all the Christians vote for a Mormon cultist?!?!
American christians who vote for Romney will face the wrath of God on judgement day!!!
Or Jill Stein
This atheist is voting for Gary Johnson, that's for sure.
Okay, maybe 16%of Americans are atheists, but I doubt it. And yes, they do vote, but I doubt all 16 percent are willing to vote based 100% on one issue, their lack of belief. And even if they are, they still only have the same two choices, so ultimately they're going to vote Democratic anyway. And it's also pretty unrealistic to expect the party to kowtow to that 16%over the wishes of the other 84%.
So come on, people of nonbelief. Relax. It's not that big a deal. (And yes, I am a person of nonbelief, myself.)
I would NEVER vote Democrat.
For a bunch of "free thinkers" who consider themselves the smartest and most logical on the planet, they sure can be dumb. Who represents you? Well, no one. Why? Here's where the ability to think should come into play; In our society, when a large enough number of people vote for or against someone who that group feels represents them in certain ways, then the electorate in that area votes for the individual in question. The more people means the more representation. Or in local elections, where numbers truly count, the candidate with the most votes gets in.
Simply put, when atheists become a large enough group to where they can actually vote someone in office, THEN they and their views on religion will be represented. People who get abducted by aliens, and the Santa clause opponents are having a hard time being represented as well, which is why every year the military has reports on santa sightings every christmas eve.
Seriously....lets leave Santa out of this!
Anon, your smug comment misses the point. Representation needs not be absolute as you seem to suggest.
Religious have fought to the death to prove their religion is superior to all others, yet will band together when fighting Atheists claiming it's better to believe in some form of God, there's a good chance there's a lot of Atheists who hide their disbelief, especially if it means keeping their friends/job/customers.
its not about who represents us. but rather taht a political party takes a stance on a non-political issue with the only purpose of disuncluding a group of people.
well said Andy!
Good God! Good ! Only the matrix can save us.
This is just one example that Prayer actually works which also proves that there is a God. Many Atheists would recognize this if not blinded by their own hatred for what God means and is. Of course the rest of us know that in reality the democratic party philosophy is one of disregard for things of God and hatred for those who do believe. There is a serious intolerance towards people of faith by those who are lost and by atheists in the extreme.
Nonsense. There is not one example that is valid evidence that prayer does anything other than waste time. If you think otherwise, then present your evidence.
Prayer actually works? You must be a looney! How many amputees have had their limbs regenerated thru prayer? Let's see . . . .. . ummm, zero?
Seems god has a marketing problem then, since he can't get his message across to all of us. Or maybe he targets like most advertisers do, to the least intelligent swath of the population.
Actually we are usually very tolerant towards people of faith as long as you don't try to mix your faith with things like how to govern a country and other things that affect us. You are free to pray as much as you want and make the rules that you want in your church but do not expect me to follow your rules if I do not believe in your god.
Hatred? How curious that someone who espouses religion, well known for its history of persecution, hatred and warmongering, would slap that sticker onto nonbelievers.
Tell me, do you have any friends who are atheists? I have many friends who are believers.
Why doesn't god heal amputees?
Many good, innocent amputees have sincerely prayed to god and asked to have their limbs back. Not one has ever been healed. This is an exacting test of whether god exists as the personally involved, loving ent-ity that it is claimed by Christians to be. Clearly, such a god does not exist.
Join the movement. Be free of religion in 2012.
What is the problem? They have a good home withe Dems.
Jesus Christ is Lord and King. If you don't believe me, speak to the people who have been changed by His love. I can't believe people can call Christianity rightwingists. Shocking.
All people will see the Creator one day. I just pray that you will be on the right side when you do.
BS! Elvis is KING!
So jesus walks into an Inn one evening, puts some spikes down on the counter, says to the innkeeper, "Hey, can you put me up for the night?"
That is all you can do. Just try to bring death with your words and insult people. You are sad and I pity you.
Ethel that is so wrong that it is funny, maybe not appropriate but can't help but laugh.
Post by 'DJDK' is a form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager.
@ Canuck – at least canadians have a sense of humour – thank god. Note the spelling of humour, btw
How's your membership application to MENSA doing?
DJDK, I applaud your sincerity, but belief does not equal fact. Where is the proof (tangible, independently verifiable proof) that there is a god? If there is a god, why is he hiding? If there is a god, how come he blesses some (as in, your cancer went into remission) while others don't get blessed (for example, the people who die in a car accident, who could be good Christians)? Plus, the bible's god is a pretty vengeful brat. Humans don't need a creator or a savior. They are the honorable result of evolution (which is not a "theory" the way you hear it). It took billions of years to bring on living, complex creatures, including men and women, to this wonderful planet. Not six days.
atheists are far too obsessed with religion.
We are not "obsessed" with religion. We are obsessed with receiving the same rights as people who associate themselves with a religion and living in a world where we don't have to be harassed for our beliefs. Or lack thereof.
I'm far too obsessed about breasts. i can't help it! Actually that's the best argument that there is a god – a young woman in a sundress in the spring, those magical orbs bouncing freely, unencu-mbered by anything – now THAT is divine!
Plenty of fire awaits atheists. Everlasting torment. That thought excites me. Will you get on with it and die atheists?
Pride's a sin so your ass will be burning next to mine.
That is NOT the way a Christian should act. "Love your neighbour" ring a bell? Yeah, Jesus said that. Atheists may be severely blinded by their own ignorance, but that doesn't mean you can condemn them. Leave the condemnation to God one day. You are to be an example in love, not hate. Check your heart my friend.
You're a bigger asshat than Elmer DJ. At least he's sincere.
Wow, how very Christian of you. Can't imagine Jesus saying "get on with it and die atheists". Time to re-read the bible Elmer!
Sincere, by condemning people to hell? Is your moral conviction THAT screwed up? You need Jesus buddy.
You need psychiatric treatment guy.
Guess what, Elmer? Jesus said the last shall be first and the first shall be last. You think you're a Christian, but you're not. I just wish you were right, so I could see the look on your face when Jesus dismissed you with the "goats." See Matthew 25, you hypocrite.
Rational Libertarian: I love you. And God loves you. Praying for your hurt, bitter soul.
Here is Elmer giving Christians a heck of a bad name, the problem is that I do believe that quite a few Christians believe the same as he does even if it is a very non-Christian thing to believe. The part "That thought excites me" shows a very disturbed individual and illustrates why Atheists do not want to be governed by anyone with such beliefs.
don't feed the trolls kids. 🙂