Conventions leave atheists asking: What political party represents me?
A voice vote to change the DNC party platform turned to chaos Wednesday night.
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.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • God • Politics

soundoff (3,922 Responses)
  1. Desert Rose

    If there were no God there would be no atheists

    September 10, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      If there were no unicorns there would be no people who didn't believe in unicorns.
      See....your argument fails. You're welcome.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Now if you had said "If there were no people who believed in God there would be no atheists"...that would be true.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • toad

      I know what you mean AtheistSteve. No assholes no hemorrhoids.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      lol @ toad
      Yes....we do seem to be a major pain in their backsides.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  2. fiftyfive55

    Atheists dont believe in God.
    I dont believe in atheists.

    September 10, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • Sane Person

      You arent god. Atheists can actually walk up to you and say "hi". See the difference? You're welcome.

      September 10, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • fiftyfive55

      @sane person:what in the world are you talking about ???

      September 10, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "I dont believe in atheists." God's not real, but we are. See the difference?

      September 10, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • sam stone

      55: yet, you know atheists exist. some sort of cognitive dissonance going on?

      September 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  3. MimiLaRue

    I recall that on and after 9/11, I didn't hear one person object to anything about 'God'. Atheists, get a clue – no one gives a rat's ass about you. You're on your own. Go hang out with the muslims. They are evil dogs and will be spending eternity in hell, with you! Enjoy!

    September 10, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • Townes

      Yet you are the horrible people, judging by your post. Hell does not exist, and atheists will soon be 20% of the US electorate.
      Welcome to reality. Please leave all space pixies at the door.

      September 10, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Wow, a very Godly post by Mimi, rats and dogs, very helpful. You are a Real Christian for sure and will be sitting on God's Hand for eternity or whatever.

      September 10, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Guess Mimi is rather clueless...Atheists know when to stfu and show respect!! As for the typical threat-oops, we no more believe in hell than we do her imaginary friend god, so the threat is, as always, futile. Poor little christard has no clue as to what the stats say...best get used to Atheists little one-the numbers are increasing and on a rapid incline (up to 16% and climbing)! As for muslims-maybe they have the right god and she doesn't...not much difference in the lack of validity in the end!

      September 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  4. Professor

    A I have mentioned in regard to atheist advocacy posted by cnn in its Light Years blog, why do atheists get TWO formats in which to advance their views–the Light Years segment (which recently showcased the idiosyncratic anti-religious speculations of a prominent retired zoologist) AND this On Belief segment. There really is no balance at all on the part of cnn: A true shame for a once great, once fair media resource.

    September 10, 2012 at 5:49 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "–the Light Years segment (which recently showcased the idiosyncratic anti-religious speculations of a prominent retired zoologist) " Sounds as if "fairness" would be wasted on you. I suspect that you are a 'professor' of faith, not a real one.

      September 10, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 10, 2012 at 4:47 am |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Sure, dear. You just run along and pray now. I cannot. No fantasy being up/out/over/under/around there ever gives a flippin' whit for what I think.

      September 10, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • Jim

      You pagan communist

      September 10, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • Just the facts mam

      Prayer is there to make believers feel better about doing nothing.

      September 10, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  6. stalin

    I believe in one thing only, the power of human will.”
    Joseph Stalin quote

    September 10, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      I love how it just means SO much to you horrible religious people to compare atheists to communists. Really, honey, communism is a religion. It passes every test, including the deified founder (Marx, Lenin, Mao) and the Holy Book(Das Kapital, Little Red Book). Let me help you out there: "Marxism" is perfectly true, the rich get richer and grind the poor, but NO solution offered by Marxists, Communists, Syndicalists, or Socialists has ever actually worked in the real world. Not one, and yet millions believe uncritically. Uncritical belief is not present in atheism, so stop trying to find or impose it.

      September 10, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  7. Lenin

    The goal of socialism is communism.”
    Vladimir Lenin quote

    September 10, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      What a shock that he would say something like that. I assumed he was a devout Christian.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  8. Marx

    Come and join the American Communist movement where you belong.

    Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
    Karl Marx quote

    September 10, 2012 at 4:32 am |
    • Marx

      “The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion”
      Karl Marx quote

      September 10, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Banning religion is not the answer. It just makes people cranky and apt to do desperate things. Leading them to logic, reason and realism is the way to enlightenment. Hard facts, verified cause and effect, natural consequences must take the day, and religion will lose its fantasy grip. It will not be quick, although we should not tarry because of the dire threat of radical religious nations nowadays.

      Delusional people will probably always be somewhere on the fringes, but we cannot have them ruling the world.

      September 10, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • 2357

      If Christ is a lie, Christianity must be abolished at all cost, immediately. There is nothing more important in life and in history than this matter.

      September 10, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Big "if" there. When you feel froggish I say jump.

      September 10, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Religion may be the opiate of the masses, but on some people it's more like PCP.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Just the facts mam

      “The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion”
      Karl Marx quote

      First rule of any religion. All other religions are wrong and must be destroyed at all costs. Communism was just another form of religion that replaced a god with the state.

      September 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  9. Lisa

    Relax. Christianity is a mere guise for the rich right-wing faction to keep order in the lower right-wing factions. They themselves don't really believe the teachings of the bible, otherwise they wold have to actually love thy neighbor, feed the poor, heal the sick and dying, etc. It's all make believe just like their lord.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:58 am |
    • Athy

      Wow! Talk about hittin' the nail on the head! Couldn't have said it better myself.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:38 am |
    • Jim

      Sounds like something Lenin or Marx would say!! Looks like you found your party!!

      September 10, 2012 at 4:19 am |
  10. Alicia

    I guess this totally escapes me..... the skeptic doesn't believe in God and doesn't want to hear the name God, fine, their choice & choice is all they have so, why not blot it out and run with the OTHER points that each candidate has to offer & make a rational choice?.

    This is ridiculous!....

    There are things that I may not like about a particular candidate as well but, does it have to make me feel left out if I like the rest of what he or she stands for?.

    C'mon you "critical thinkers"...pratice what you preach... God's not going to bother you..unless you let him.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • Athy

      Good point. We really only have two choices, basically. So you have to add the pluses and minuses and go with the totals. Just include your gut feel in the mix. Personally, I'm going for Obama, Mitt just seems a little too flakey for me, if you know what I mean.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • Jim

      Maybe because they are full of hate?

      September 10, 2012 at 4:21 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Maybe because they are full of hate?" Enough hate to use multiple names to call non-believers six kinds of commie, Jim?

      September 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  11. GodsPeople

    Atheists question makes thinking beings wonder, "who cares?"

    September 10, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  12. clgmm74

    Each individual deserves the right to make up his/her own mind about what he/she believes. Even if the result is non-belief.

    We all comprise humanity. Let's not forget that. Different as we may be, we are all human beings shaped in numerous ways by multiple influences.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Just the facts mam

      Of course all these points could be made about the Christian religion at various points in its history. Ever read the old testament?

      September 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • clgmm74

      There was no agenda for religion in my comment. It was based in equality, freedom, & choice.

      September 12, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  13. OMG

    Few 100% true Reasons why Islam is a terrible and evil religion to stay far away from...

    1. "Prophet" Muhammed was an evil pédophilé who was an intolerant murder, destroyer and had many wives, incl. 9 year old!
    2. Islam = submission. Allah tells Muslim to submit to his will; otherwise he will torture and torment you in life for eternity.
    3. Islam treats non-adherents worse than animals. If they are people of the books (Christians or Jewish), classify them as "dhimmis" and make them pay a special tax (Jizya) to the Islamic government, or they should be enslave, rob, rápe, and lynch them as you please unless they convert to Islam.
    4. Islam kills those who leave Islam and/or convert to another religion.It also says to kill gays, atheists and those who insult Islam.
    5. Islam says "Men are better than women", "Men could have many wives", "Women are worth half a man", "Selling a wife is perfectly ok".
    6. Unlike Christians – Muslims pray and serve Allah, rather than praying for themselves or someone else.
    7. Islam is the most violent Religion by far –>> http://www.thereligionofpeace.com <<–
    8. Muslims frequently persecute and kill Christians unless they convert to their cult. Churches have either been converting into Mosque. (Hagia Sophia an example) or being burned down in Islamic countries.
    9. Non-Muslims are forbidden visiting Mecca, and no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia (No churches, No non-Islamic stuff, etc.).
    10. Islam is spreading like rats in western countries (Europe & North America), and seek to spread their "Sharia Laws", as well as trying to convert as many people to their "peaceful" religion and ev. Taking over the nation.
    11. It is the DUTY of every Muslim to expand Islam and strive for world domination.
    12. Quran is nothing but hate and violence. Muslim children are brainwashed and brought up with violence and hatred towards non-Muslims.
    13. Islam says they believe in Jesus (Isa), yet they deny his words and the Bible.
    14. Many Muslims in western nations tries to act "nice" and "tolerant" like normal humans so people think that their religion is "peaceful" and ev. people falling into converting to Islam and accepting them.

    May our Lord save us from Islam and its disgusting people!

    Muslims could openly practice their religion freely in western (Christian) nations, but Christians or Non-Muslims would risk getting their head cut of doing in in any Islamic nation, both secular and extremist.


    September 9, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Aw, and we were just about to all turn Muslim until you said that.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  14. Rozelle

    Dear Atheists and Agnostics, I would suggest that you vote for the political party that you think will do the best job with the economy. If God doesn't exist, why should it make any difference to you what other people think about God? Are you trying to convert them to your way of thinking? Just ignore them and vote your pocketbook.

    September 9, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "why should it make any difference to you what other people think about God?" They vote in blocs to deny us our rights. They pass laws telling us what we can and can't see and hear. German Christians voted to kill all the German Jews. Stop attacking and killing us and we'll be less concerned about this.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Just the facts mam

      If god exists, why would you care about the economy. Wouldn't it be according to god's plan no matter which way the economy went?

      September 10, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  15. Mohammad A Dar

    Word Pak is based on Latin word Puki, Pe or Pa, Te, or Ta, meaning from stomach and throat base word for Sick in English, Upchuck, blowing chunks or spewing, meaning, worshiping at the porcelain thrown or a sweaty, infection of puke absolute, such as flu, or Food poisoning, in disregard diarrhea or Montezuma’s revenge, Word Stan is based on Latin word Satan, Se or Sa, Tan, or Ten, meaning land. Pakistan, denier of truth absolute 360* filthy gutter land of puking people.

    September 9, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Well, I can't argue with that, because it's stupid. Is the nurse late with your meds today?

      September 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  16. Mohammad A Dar

    Word Jew is based on Latin word Yahood, Je or Ja, Ye, or Ya, meaning from heart and mind base word for Yes in English, HOOD, habit or habitat, meaning, self centered or a secular, denier of truth absolute, such as King, or Pig, in disregard to truth absolute and Judaism, One who takes a wow to be in violation of truth by his intent, considering himself to be the God, the truth absolute, same as Christian, denier of truth absolute,

    September 9, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  17. Mohammad A Dar

    Crucifixion is nothing more than Cruci- fiction of a pagan god Mithra, savior, labeled as fictional man god Jesus and their book of, absurdity called bible bares witness to it. Handy work of Jew's, filthy self centered to fool humanity.

    September 9, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • OMG

      F*U*C*K Muhammed & Islam

      Quran is all FALSE, HATE, VIOLENCE and BS!

      September 9, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Athy

      It's "FUCK", not "F*U*C*K". Try again, you can do it, I know you can.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:46 am |
  18. Mohammad A Dar

    Not before you atheists, ignorant, America belong's to Muslim's, pay attention to fundamental, of American consti tution we trust. IN MUHAMMED, TRUTH ABSOLUTE OR ALLAH, AL, THE , LA, LIMIT, H, MOST HIGH OR ABSOLUTE 360*. CHRISTIANS, IGNORANT TRINITY, DIVIDE OF FAKE ABSOLUTE , defiance under cover religion, of American fundamental is not permitted, atheist's deniers of truth absolute have an opportunity to follow fundamental ISLAM of, truth absolute 360* un divided or go to gutter of atheistism, illegality called America. please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uwOL4rB-go and click on Like.

    September 9, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Uh uhhhh....Mormons are more correct than Muslims since their religion was made up even more recently than yours! But then, Scientologists have the Mormons beat since theirs was even more recent! Moe, you better keep up with the times since apparently the only criterion you use to judge a religion worthy is how recently it was manufactured. Grow up, idiot!

      September 9, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      How come nothing you say makes any sense at all? Did Pakistanis steal your brain and replace it with hummus? Try forming a coherent sentence that can be answered 'yes' or 'no?'

      September 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  19. wj

    Just because atheists do not believe there is a God doesn't mean that everyone has to cater to them and quash their own belief in God. Why can't the Democrats put it in their platform since many of them, including the President of the United States, do believe in God?? Just as atheists wish to be able to express their unbelief, Christians wish to express their faith. LET THEM since this is a free country!!!!

    September 9, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      YOU atheists, ignorant, America belong's to Muslim's, pay attention to fundamental, of American consti tution we trust. IN MUHAMMED, TRUTH ABSOLUTE OR ALLAH, AL, THE , LA, LIMIT, H, MOST HIGH OR ABSOLUTE 360*.

      September 9, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  20. Mohammad A Dar

    atheist Mithra ism, pagan savior ism labeled as Christianity is an off shoot of atheism, denial of truth absolute by Christianity, corruption of truth absolute by atheist Pharisee's, criminal self centered and promoted with sword by Jesus criminal king's and their atheist pagan Magi' fortune teller Prophets to make humanity their gentile, slave, Islamism, for humanity and truth absolute.

    September 9, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Ayatollah ben Dover

      Atheists, ankylosauruses, ankle bracelets, and announcements, cryogenic cabbage! Atheists, Pakistanis, aarg, oof, ding dong hoogaballalah Islam. Nov Smoz ka Pop, ting tang walla walla bing bang. Filthy, dirty, scrungy, insane, nasty, bilious, depressed, brain-dead religion. Atheists, athesisit, atheisisisiytiscic, aesthetics, atheisticalismic, ahem. Woop woop, woot.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
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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.