Republican Atheists

Republican Atheists:  I don’t understand you.  Help me out.

I was reading vjack’s post on Conservative Atheist blogs the other day, and it got me thinking—hey I know someone like that, but I cannot, no matter how hard I try, figure him out.  My cousin is an extremely proud Republican.  He supports everything the GOP stands for from their economic policies to social issues.  He is opposed to same sex marriage, abortion, believes the “war on women” is, to use his words “a phony baloney Obama devised scheme to draw attention away from the “real issues”.  He believes that Muslims are attempting to destroy America from within and are some form of lower species.  I think you get the idea.  There are two other things about him that you should know.  He is an atheist and very much an anti-theist.  He is also single and makes less than $100k a year.  I could see him being a Libertarian, but he is not.  He is a very Right Wing Conservative Republican.

People like him confound me…daily.

There are many people, who, for all intents and purposes, do not have any reasons to support the GOP, yet they do.  A doctor friend of mine just had to ensure an elderly patient that she will not lose her health care coverage if “that Muslim socialist Obama is re-elected”, and that in fact, her cancer treatments would continue. Huh? Obama wants to gut Medicare and Medicaid for current senior citizens?  I recently drove by a construction site and was dumbstruck by the  number of Romney bumper stickers applied neatly next to their union bumper stickers.  Huh?  Romney supports unions?  People like this are everywhere.  I get that.  However, I put my cousin in a different category.

I cannot tell you how many times he and I have discussed the role of the Christian Right on the GOP.  Let me reiterate, he is a much of an anti-theist as I am.  Yet, he refuses to acknowledge the significance of that relationship.  He refuses to acknowledge that the GOP’s stances on things like abortion and same-sex marriage are driven by religious views.  He argues that he is pro-life because he doesn’t believe that we should end any potential human life, that religion has nothing to do with it.  Fine—for him, but that is not the overarching view of the GOP.  How can he be so blind to the fact that religion is intimately tied to the Pro-Life movement and GOP.

His argument against same-sex marriage is more or less the same.  He believes that there is no need to “redefine” the definition of marriage–that things are great the way they are.  Okay, I disagree with him, but, we can disagree on that.  What he refuses to accept is that much of the anti-homosexual rhetoric from the GOP is inspired from the power of the Christian Right.

He has a special place reserved for his contempt of Muslims.  His anti-theism comes out quite strongly here.  However, he is not even close to rational in his view.  He lumps all Muslims together as terrorists or potential terrorists.  He also fails to apply any of this anti-theism to the Christian influence of his own party.  To him, it either does not exist or is completely exaggerated.

He is the only atheist and anti-theist that I know personally who is a dyed in the wool far Right Republican.  I do not understand him.  In fact, I firmly believe that he is living with his head in the sand, in large part due to the fact that he was very Republican prior to becoming an atheist and does not wish to discard those views.  Cognitive dissonance at its finest.  But that is my opinion based only on my cousin.  Surely that is not enough to satisfy m curiosity regarding Republican Atheists.  To classify all GOP atheist as I would my cousin would be erroneous.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot separate the role of the Religious Right from the GOP.  Clearly there atheists exist who can do this.  I am curious to know if any of you are either Republican or know other atheists/anti-theists that are.  I know so little about GOP atheists, I want to learn more.  I would love to hear what you have to share on this topic.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

—-RB

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38 thoughts on “Republican Atheists

      1. sbj1964 from Ozark, AL, United States

        Barry Goldwater tried to warn his fellow republicans if they allowed the christian fundametalist to gain control of the party it would be hell geting them out.The GOP started in the 80's to lose control over it's core conservative values Monetary resposibility,strong military,and began electing these Christards who wrap themselves in the flag while beating people over the heads with a cross.Until they return to their roots they will be nothing more than a shadow of they're past selves.

        Reply
  1. matt greenberg from Norristown, PA, United States

    i think it's curious as well. were this 1985 it might be slightly different. while the Religious Right has been tied to the GOP since the Reagan years, it's taken a hard turn towards Christian fundamentalism in recent years. it's nearly impossible to separate the two. i can't imagine there exists a sole Obama supporter in the Evangelical world. as Howard Fineman recently noted, "the GOP has become a defacto faith based organization". how one can be an Atheist yet side with today's GOP befuddles me. like you said, a Ron Paul libertarian maybe, but a Tea Party Republican (which they pretty much all are now), which is 100% tied to the Religious Right simply flies in the face of logic.

    Reply
      1. Jim in AZ from Bel Air, MD, United States

        I totally disagree with fineman. but then, he's a beltway (D.C.) reporter that has never, since I started reading/listening to him has ever been out speaking with tthe "rabble" (regular people like us).

        As for the Tea Party, sure, their made up of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and – non-religious. I know several personally. None of those I know would cop to the statement that they are "tied" to the Religious Right. Their platform is primarily concerned with the federal government being fiscally responsible with the taxpayers money.

        It was Glenn Beck that tried to coopt those people with all of his religious mumbo-jumbo. Did he convince some? Sure, A con-man can make the deal every once in a while, but overall? No.

        Reply
        1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

          I think the Tea Partiers and the Religious Right have formed an uneasy coalition as of now. Though I am not sure that it is as strained as you suggest. In MN where I live we have Bachmann and Cravaack who are both Tea Partiers and part of the RR (moreso Bachmann than Cravaack in speech, but they vote the same). I think the two groups are more closely tied than you suggest.

          Reply
  2. hausdorff from Troy, MI, United States

    Interesting post. I too find the ideas of a republican atheist confusing. As matt greenberg mentioned above, in different times it could make sense just fine. There are plenty of ideas that would fit into the republican party that are independent of religion, if they actually spent their energy trying to make government smaller that would seem to be independent of atheism for example. But as you outlined quite well, it seems that most of the GOP platform is tainted by religion.

    If I was a republican at heart I think I would have to very seriously consider voting democrat or independent for a while until the crazies get out of the republican seats of power.

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      Interesting point Haus—I wonder if there is a group of Atheist Republicans who either abstain from voting or vote Dem in light of the current circumstances. I would find it hard to believe they vote Dem, with the two parties being as polarized as they are. I would not be surprised if some just don't vote.

      Reply
      1. Jim in AZ from Bel Air, MD, United States

        Bingo!

        Although not a registered Republican, I am a conservative and vote for the person, not the party. For me it's about being a smart voter and although national elections are important, I am a believer in voting at home first. The people that have the greatest, and most direct influence in your daily life are not all the idiots in Washington (I include both parties in that statement), but your local city council, county supervisors, school board, then finally up to your state legislature.

        Yeah, I just said I am a conservative, fiscally. I see myself as socially moderate. What I mean by that is I am not an activist in any particular cause, but do support what has been referred to as "liberal ideals". For me, it's more about peoples freedom and equality. I think that covers most of what was being said above.

        Reply
      2. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

        Most of us, to be honest, vote for the lesser of the two evils. I cannot tell you the last time I actually voted *FOR* a candidate, I always vote against one. In the last election, I voted for Obama, not because I wanted Obama elected but because I didn't want Palin anywhere remotely near the White House. This time, I've been leaning toward Romney, just to get Obama out. To be honest, the way both parties are pandering to the religious, I really don't know right now.

        Both candidates suck.

        Reply
        1. Jim in AZ from Bel Air, MD, United States

          "Both candidates suck"

          Yep. When they started the Republican debate, seems like years ago…I looked at the field and asked myself if I would vote for any of these candidates. The answer came quickly: No.

          But here we are, 50 days (?) from the election and it's a "hold your nose and pull the lever" type of situation.

          Reply
          1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

            I am not sure that Obama is the one who pushed that into the platform, but you are correct, I found the entire thing quite unacceptable. That said, I understand (though disagree with) the political reasons for why they did so. I am sure they are trying to appeal to some of the more religious independents out there who like all of the god stuff in the GOP. I hate it, but I get it…or at least, that is how I have come to terms with it.

          2. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

            If you listened to the whole Tony Villar speech, he said specifically that they wanted to adopt Jerusalem as their recognized capital of Israel because it was something Obama believed. Now whether or not Obama came down and told them to add it to the platform or not, I don't know, but since both positions were presented as coming from Obama, I don't see that as being unreasonable.

  3. Celticlight from Green Bay, WI, United States

    As much as the fundamentalist influence on the Republican Party bothers me, the policies of the Democratic Party bother me even more. That is why I usually vote Republican, although I was a Clinton supporter (at first anyway).

    I agree with your cousin – the "War on Women" is a tactic to distract from failed domestic policies, and to get more of the female vote. Since they are losing more of the working class vote, the Dems need to strengthen their base – public sector employees, minorities, single women, lawyers, limousine liberals (Hollywood, ultra rich) and many large corporations that thrive on things like "green" energy. In short those who depend on a large and growing federal government.

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      Thanks for your comment. Though I disagree with your stance on the "war on women"—we can discuss that a later time. What I am more interested in, is how you as an Republican atheist (I am assuming you are both, if not please correct me) deal with the influence of the Christian Right on the GOP. In so many States they are proposing some pretty religiously themed legislation. Is that of lesser significance to you than other issues? Why or why not? I hope you don't mind me picking your brain, that is what I am after with this whole post anyway.

      Reply
      1. Celticlight from Green Bay, WI, United States

        Yes, I consider myself a fiscally conservative Republican. As to religion – I consider myself an agnostic, or an atheist depending on your definition of atheism. While I am not an anti-theist, I do not like the strong influence of the fundamentalist wing of the party. On the other hand, the fundamentalist wing of the party did not win in the primaries (overall that is), although it did impact some party positions. Right now, social issues are of less importance to me than economic issues. Bottom line – if we do not get our economy growing at a stronger rate, everything will be negatively impacted- national security, entitlements, safety net, other government programs including Medicaid and Medicare, in short the health and welfare of the country. Obama is more concerned with income redistribution than the economy. He has admitted as much when he has been caught speaking candidly.

        We also live in a very dangerous world, as events of this past week have reinforced. Many in the world would like to see a true theocracy in place and are dedicated to making that happen. The "religious issues" in the USA pale in comparison to what could happen down the road if we do not remain strong and vigilant.

        Reply
        1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

          Thanks for the return comment. Not to simplify your point too much, but would it be fair to say that the role of the Religious Right is more heavily concentrated on social issues, and at this time, those are less important to you than your views on how we should fix the economy? If so, that is an answer to my question that makes a great deal of sense to me. As Cephus pointed out somewhere in this comment thread, it is similar to the Dems forcing god into their platform at the convention. I very much dislike that, but it is of less importance to me than other things, at least at this time.

          Reply
          1. Celticlight from Green Bay, WI, United States

            Yes. If your major concern is social issues from a progressive viewpoint, you will vote Democratic. If you are coming at social issues from a conservative point of view, you will vote Republican. However for many people, social issues are not the most important issues, economic ones are. Here are again if you want the federal government to play a larger role in your life and in the economy, more regulations, cradle to grave security, etc you will probably vote D. If you want a smaller federal government role, more power to state governments, care more about small business growth, etc you are more likely to vote R. These are generalizations, but not too far from reality. The "uber rich" tend to vote D as well (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc). I guess they can afford legal teams to avoid high taxes, i.e. Warren Buffett is giving most of his wealth to the Bill Gates Foundation to avoid estate taxes. Another separate debate topic.

  4. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

    You have to remember that conservative atheists are really left without a party to represent them, they are often Republican by default, even though the Republican party doesn't represent their interests in any way, shape or form. I've been a lifelong Republican since before the Reagan era and while I hold no affinity for modern Republican dogma, I hold even less for the Democrats. There simply is no party in the U.S. that remotely represents me. To date, it's been voting for the lesser of the two evils, but both the Republicans and the Democrats are fighting to be as evil as possible these days, so I have no idea what to do in the future.

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      I can sympathize with that. I consider myself a left leaning independent. I do not label myself a Democrat for many reasons. In short, I don't identify with either party very well. Can you shed some light on how GOP Atheists "deal" with the rise in power of the Christian Right over the last 30 years?

      Reply
      1. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

        You have to remember where the modern-day Republican party came from, it's made up of disenfranchised Southern Democrats who abandoned the party back in the 60s and 70s over issues like civil rights and abortion. We don't have a conservative party in this country today, we have two liberal parties. Both of them are big-government, spend like money is going out of style, stick your nose in everyone's business parties. They both just have their own particular social quirks.

        Personally, I'm hoping that the Republican party explodes and spins the Tea Party off into their own separate group of minor, useless parties, like the Green and Constitution parties, and that a big chunk if blue-dog Democrats come over to fill in the gaps. The major parties in this country ought to be moderate-left and moderate-right, where they both fight over the middle instead of trying to appeal to the fringes because the moderates really have no choice which party to vote for.

        It's just a sad, sad situation right now.

        Reply
        1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

          I get what you are saying about the tradition, but I would very much disagree that the GOP/Tea Party is a liberal party. They are the most conservative party we have ever seen. I think the Dems are somewhere in the middle/left, but certainly are not far left on all issues ie, the environment–all talk no action, gay marriage (until now), etc.

          I do agree that the Tea Party needs to go, and that the major parties should be where you imply they should. Right now, things are sad…

          Reply
          1. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

            Um… classical conservatism is small government, personal responsibility, fiscal responsibility and living entirely within our means. Classical conservatism means keeping the government out of your life. Does any of that sound remotely like the modern-day Republican Party?

            In fact, classical conservatism is entirely non-religious as well.

            The Republican party has turned into a big-government, spend-like-it's-going-out-of-style, tell-you-what-to-do-in-the-bedroom party. That is not what conservatism is.

          2. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

            I agree with you, and that is sort of my point. I think fiscally, the GOP is very much still classically conservative, one could argue the most conservative laissez faire we have seen in a long time. I agree that, at least in recent years, they have spend much more than what traditional conservatives would like to see. However, two things to note. We are a country of 350 million people, there is going to a good deal of spending, unless we completely cut all safety nets. Second, I think the current platform is a throwback to classical conservatism. The second part of your quote most certainly is not classical conservatism–the social issues. I think we could argue that it is the social issues where the Religious Right have had the most influence. Same-sex marriage, abortion, etc. That is not all what conservatism used to be about. That is the dichotomy I want to explore.

  5. Celticlight from Green Bay, WI, United States

    This past week should send a clear wake up call. Our Ambassador to Libya, who represents the USA was tortured and killed by a radical Islamic group on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. The Administration has spent a week trying to convince us that all the Middle East riots were spontaneos riots due to an internet video, including the killings in Libya. Now the intelligence community tells us it was a planned assault timed to be on 9/11, in revenge for a drone attack on a Libyan radical in Yemen. WHY would they haved automatically jumped to a conclusion before they had any information. WHY wasn't the consulate and the ambassador better protected. And you ask why I would favor the Republicans over the Democrats ??? I am outraged over this situation. The President is either incompetent, naive, or lying to us. OR it could be all of the above. Oh wait – it's the War on Women that is the big war we are fighting.

    Reply
    1. Neil from Arroyo Grande, CA, United States

      So, according to your outlook here, democrats and the Obama administration are to blame, and must be unfit for leadership, because they missed the planning of one fairly minor attack on the 9/11 anniversary? Funny how I heard so little complaining from republicans about the Bush administration ignoring intelligence reports for months, and missing….oh, I don't know….. I must have come down with republican amnesia here…..what happened again? Oh, yeah, 9/11! I won't labor the point by bringing up attacking uninvolved countries for profit or ignoring the role of Saudi Arabia, the source of most terrorism funds, and good friend of some influential neo-con republicans.

      Reply
      1. Neil from Arroyo Grande, CA, United States

        Con't.
        And yes, some of us take issues like birth control and abortion and budding theocracy very seriously, since it is perfectly clear that many popular republicans want to reduce women's control over their own bodies and receive government endorsement of their religious beliefs, exactly like the taliban, and that almost all other republicans(even non-religious ones) are just fine with that, dismissing it as a "distraction" if we focus on these issues. While ignoring that their party has been just as bad, and sometimes much worse than democrats on spending, increasing debt, corporate welfare, and every other economic issue.

        Reply
        1. Neil from Arroyo Grande, CA, United States

          The standard narrative fairly bleeds out of your comment….democrats must be flawless to be accepted, or they are potential traitors, yet republicans can be forgiven ANYTHING (and will be). Focusing on irrational, harmful, overly-controlling republican policies is a "distraction", and if all else fails, hammer on the economy, even though republicans have done no better and often worse.

          Sorry, ain't buyin' it. I'd rather buy ass cancer than the current emotion-based, reactionary BS that is modern republicanism. Social regressives, idiot tea partiers, and thieving neo-cons are killing you guys and stinking up the whole place, but you don't have the strength or honesty to clean your own house.

          I'd love to see the republican party as described by Cephus in above comments, and some cracks are starting to happen…but I think it will take several lost elections, and a lot of work by reasonable republicans to get the job done.

          Reply
  6. miketheapeman from Las Vegas, NV, United States

    At the moment, there are two irrational belief systems that present an existential threat to the Human Species — Islam, and Socialism.

    It amazes me that you socialists refuse to acknowledge the fact that your collectivism is as much a religion as any theistic dogma that has ever come down the pike.

    Religion is any irrational belief system. Socialism is even more irrational and anti-humanistic than all of the deity-based theologies combined.

    There would be in the area of one-half billion Human Beings who could attest to that, if not for the fact that they were butchered for opposing Socialist Theocracies.

    To compound this, Socialism and Islam are are in the process of melding.

    Given that neither are ‘religions of peace’, I guess you’ll all have to forgive me if I find it easier to align myself with a few relatively benign Christians than to ally with a multitude of of cravenly degenerate leftists who attempt to present themselves as non-theists.
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    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      Wow Mike—I have to ask, when you sat down to write this comment, was your goal the following: I will write a long comment where not even one sentence makes any sense, where not one sentence is based in reality, and I will set out to write the most insane comment that this blog has seen in its almost one year history….If those were your goals, great job buddy! Here's a few tips….first off, I am not a socialist, nor are most atheists. Second, when you comment on a blog, it would behoove you to actually know what you are talking about. You can't just spout off nonsense without any evidence to back it up. You see, when you write something completely insane like, "It amazes me that you socialists refuse to acknowledge the fact that your collectivism is as much a religion as any theistic dogma that has ever come down the pike." You actually need to back that up with something, otherwise you come across as a raving uneducated lunatic….which is how you came across.

      Reply
      1. miketheapeman from Las Vegas, NV, United States

        My goal is a good solid bitch-slapping.

        I’m real tired of all the slander (re: The majority of the posts above.) I see directed at folks like myself.

        Those of us who don’t buy into any sort of religion, be it theistic or secular.

        I’ve tried civility. I’ve tried polite reason. To be honest, that doesn’t work worth a damn.

        I’ve decided it’s time to speak up and answer back.

        You see, Leftists are far too comfortable in their own superstitious ignorance for reason to have any effect what so ever.

        It’s easier to try to reason with an incorrigible snake-handler than an inveterate Collectivist.

        The fact is, that practically all leftist pseudo-atheists (pardon the redundancy) in the United States are members of the Democrat Party (if not, they belong to a Democrat affiliate, such as the “American” Communist Party — a distinction without a difference).

        The stated goals and policies of the “American” Democrat Party are completely indistinguishable from the policies of any political party in history that has identified itself as Socialist.

        Ergo:

        The “American” Democrat Party is very much a socialist organization.

        As such, pseudo-atheists who are members of the “American” Democrat Party are as much socialist as any other member of the “American” Democrat Party (or its affiliates).

        I’m simply applying a bit of syllogistic logic.

        Now, care to point out what “nonsense” it was that I was “spewing”?
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        1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

          Sure, I'd love too, but please note, I will be out of town until next Wednesday after I post this comment. Your Nonsense:
          1) You are tired of polite reason and are looking to "bitchslap". Good luck with that, its pure nonsense.
          2) "Leftist are far too comfortable in their own superstitious ignorance"….what superstition are you referring to? If you mean atheists, then its nonsense, we don't do "superstition".
          3) The term "pseudo-atheist"…that isn't even a thing, so that's nonsense. The question is 'Do you believe a god exists?" If yes, you are theist, if no, you are atheist…there is no pseudo anything. Let alone any redundancy you alluded too.
          4) Yes, many atheists are Democrats and liberal and many are Republicans and Conservative—see the commenter Cephus for one right here!
          5) Being liberal is in no way synonymous with communism or socialism. I tend to be more liberal and am neither a communist or socialist. In fact, out of all the atheists I know, few would be classified as such, so that is nonsense.
          6) The stated goal of the Dem Party is the same as any Socialist party in history. That statement is just complete nonsense and cannot be backed up with any historical data. Here's one…which of the hippie, lib, tree huggers you hate so much reminds of you of Stalin or Castro? I would argue they are quite the opposite, so that statement is nonsense. You repeat a few sentences of this nature, all are nonsense.
          7) You mention syllogistic logic, but actually used none, so that's nonsense.
          8) Like your previous comment, this is just a rant with no evidence to back up anything you are saying. Not only do I find what you are saying to be "way out there" and nonsensical, its hard to argue with because you don't bring anything other than ranting to the table. I am not sure what you want me to do here…

          You mentioned that you did not buy into any religion. Can I ask you a question? How do you reconcile the close relationship between the Tea Party/Republican Party with the Christian Right? I am truly curious on that.

          Lastly, for some reason, and I truly have no idea why, it is requiring me to moderate your comments. That has never happened before and I have no idea how to fix it. If you respond to this, and do not see your comment, I will "moderate" it to post when I get back either late next Tues night or Wed. I will not fail to post it, it's not how I do things.

          Reply
          1. miketheapeman from Las Vegas, NV, United States

            I see.

            Because you declare it to be so, everything I have stated is nonsense.

            Fascinating.

            Let’s see…

            For starters, why don’t you show me where a valid distinction can be drawn between the “American” Democrat Party, and say, the British Labor Party (with which “American” “progressivism” shares its philosophical genesis). Or for that matter, the Party of European Socialists, which comprises all of the collectivist political organizations of the European Union — including the British Labor Party.

            Their policy goals include a disarmed (subjugated) citizenry, the extortion of capital and property from productive elements of society for nefarious reasons (often in the interest of buying the votes of the unproductive — euphemistically referred to as “redistribution”), the promotion and employment of protection cartels, commonly known as “labor unions”, the engineering of command economies by means of oppressive and petty regulation…

            Well, it’s a long litany, and I could continue for several more pages.

            Suffice to say, I’ve establish a clear relationship between the the “American” Democrat Party and at least a large number of other socialist political parties.

            Again, if a distinction exists, you need to show me where it can be found.

            While you’re at it, you might demonstrate a difference between Socialism and any other

            irrational belief system (religion).
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