Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Atheists need not apply

Jerry Coyne posts on WEIT about a Pew Survey showing what US voters are looking for in a presidential candidate for 2012.

Here’s the depressing part:

Having served in the military seems to be more desirable than possessing the hands-on experience of a former governor. Personally, I struggle to see why military service should count as a qualification for political office, but here we are.

People seem reasonably open to the idea of a female president, which is nice, but somehow sex makes more difference than colour. The cynic in me suspects that people think it’s not OK to appear racist, but fine to appear sexist. Or perhaps people are blind to their own sexism.

Atheists don’t stand a chance.  A candidate would be better off admitting an extramarital affair than a lack of belief in god.  Notice the wording of the category as well: the A-word isn’t even used.  We can’t blame this on confusion over the word ‘atheist’ which many people wrongly equate with a nihilistic viewpoint.  This is people not trusting people who don’t believe something irrational.

My own score would be no difference right down the line except for a preference for people with relevant experience.  I haven’t decided whether I’d be less likely to support someone who’s had an extramarital affair. On the one hand, everyone makes mistakes, I have no desire to be judgemental and I can’t bring myself to generalise about this kind of thing.  On the other, it’s evidence of dishonesty.  But on the other (third) hand, it’s not clear to me that dishonesty of that sort necessarily counts against being able to do the job. Would I feel differently if the category were “committed fraud” or “stole candy from baby”? Probably not: I’m less concerned with whether a crime has been committed as I am with whether someone has been hurt through dishonesty.

I suppose this means I’m more results-oriented than emotional, but we knew that.

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