Atheism, Conservatism, and the Republican Party...

I find myself in the not-so-comfortable position of being both and atheist and a small "c" conservative. Living in the American Midwest as I do, I can generally find a conservative pretty easily by looking both ways when crossing the street, but being a "conservative atheist" (were I to let the latter out) basically puts me in a precarious position: lumped in with the Christian right by the left, lumped in with the loony left by the right. Written off by both sides as being mutually incompatible. 

The problem as I see it is that loose associations tend to get blown out of proportion. Yes, I expect that someone who is of a more liberal mindset to be more open to atheism, but I fear that the atheist community as a monolithic unit has begun to self-identify as being liberal. And it is certainly portrayed that way by the Republicans; witness the reaction to Obama aides meeting with an atheist group in the White House.  

What I wonder, really, is how many other atheists out there feel caught in the gap between being an atheist and being a conservative?  How do you reconcile those two culturally-at-odds beliefs when working with either group? What strategies have you employed to keep the FUD factor at bay?

Thanks, 

Josh


Tags: atheism, conservatism

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I have to wonder - is there a difference between an atheist conservative and a libertarian? I've been hard-pressed to find socially conservative atheists (though there are a few pro-lifers), but I know there's a significant minority that's fiscally conservative.

Also, my score:
I think the tests were particularly biased on the purity aspect. I've been an atheist since birth and environmentalist most of my life, but especially since university, as I studied first in biochemistry, then in toxicology, then zoology.

Unfortunately, a great number of their 'purity' questions WERE biological or environmental. So if they were going for a 'religious purity' link, they completely missed the point! I scored high on purity but you find a much more hating religion person than I!
Geesh, that was pretty weird testing, I was so frustrated with the vagueness of many of the questions. Eg.: corporations count as legal persons in our society. So all the questions regarding personhood and "someone" had me duelling between my two extremes. I disagree that corporations should have person status. IMO corporations have entirely different responsibilities and rights from real people. So the tests were frustrating, and possibly useless for me. Anywho, on each of the three parts of the study, I was divided between liberals and conservatives, which I do agree with. The one test where my score was significantly different from the norm was in grayscale perception vs morality:


1. my grayscale perception is much finer than most people
2. my moral words read darker than my immoral words
3. my neutral words are the darkest, does that mean I'm amoral, both ends leave me indifferent?
Bill, you're more liberal than I am! Hmmmm ;p
hi hi hi , well as someone else posted, there's a heavy bias towards liberal participants, we're just suckers for introspection and doubt. As for a majority of righties conservatives, they have to be forced to partake in such sessions :)
I actually found the test quite amusing and straightforward. As far as perception of shades (of any colour) goes. The human eye is tricked by the size of a colour patch. So that when comparing a large square to skinny print, there will be a 'bias' in the colour matching ability.

But that my 'bias' was the opposite of the majority really surprised me. However, if the test is revealing that I am amoral, that does fit somewhat with my philosophy.

From a born atheist standpoint, I have often argued that morality comes from religion. I was never 'imprinted' with religious morals, I was always highly critical of anything religious in school.

Even at the extreme end "thou shall not kill" I disagree with as a moral standpoint, or the "sanctity of life". Since there are way too many humans on the planet, it's really not bad that we get killed or die young. Of course it hurts the people close to us, even to the point of revenge. But to me it's still not a 'morality' issue per se.

So yea, I think that test hit the nail on the head... Did you do the grayscale test?
hm, that was fun!
-Only sacred value is harm,
-Lowest score is authority
-Biggest difference from others is fairness, half the rest of you :( . I think that cheating at elections brought me down! Hell if no one caught me of course I'd rig it!

Oprah asked that question once on her show, if there was no penalty and complete anonymity, would you kill someone: my answer was yes. Harm/pain is truly my only "sacred" value.

My political viewpoints vary with the issue involved, (for example, I'm pro-abortion, but anti-gun control) but I nearly always vote Republican, because I find the liberal positions on most things to be so distasteful.  I am also a dedicated atheist.  There is no conflict between these two things, because I believe in separation of church and state.  Religious beliefs should not influence politics, and vice versa.

However, I live in a very left-wing area, and I have gotten huge amounts of flack for my politics.  100% of it from liberal bigots who insist that I'm either a liar, an idiot or a some kind of traitor.  I've literally gotten death threats merely for announcing that I am a conservative atheist.

The only way to survive socially has been to hide the fact that I am a conservative, except among like-minded people.  For example, I attend meetings of the Young Republicans club, where no one cares that I'm an atheist.  I've tried the Unitarian Church, but many there immediately made it clear that, as a conservative, I wasn't welcome.  On the other hand, the Catholics and the Mormons have been quite welcoming.  Neither seem to mind that I don't share their beliefs.

So frankly, I find the most tolerant are the conservatives, and I'm better off associating with conservative theists than nonreligious liberals.  The theists seem to see me as odd, but at least they aren't interested in shooting me or firebombing my house.

Hope that helps.

Michael, your experiences and mine jibe somewhat. I started voting in 1952. I voted independent for 20 years (my dad was Demo and my mom Repub). In 1972 I was living in Phoenix. I was Repub and for economic reasons became politically hyper-active.

In 1974 I ran in a Repub legislative primary and set out to meet conservatives. At a weekly breakfast group people welcomed me and I joined. In a few weeks a member invited me to his church. I'd been an agnostic (ex-Catholic) for 15 years and told him I had a commitment, which I didn't identify.

Co-workers teased me, saying a moderate Repub is a lonely man. I was too busy meeting voters to feel lonely. I lost to the Repub incumbent and the District Committee chair told me I was in the wrong party. After the election the state Repub Chair wrote, saying I'd run a good campaign and thanked me.

In 1976 I moved to San Francisco, where Repubs who want to win elections have to register as Dems. To meet people I went to the Unitarian church. I liked the intellectual climate but felt the cool indifference.

In 1980 I worked in ex-Repub John Anderson's presidential campaign. Reagan won and soon invited evangelicals to join the Repub party. I'd had too much religion and re-registered Dem.

I now consider Dems as soft-headed and Repubs as hard-hearted.

I want two strong parties competing for power. The Repub Party is seriously wounded.

BTW, in Arizona I heard this: If you want good food volunteer with the Repub Party; if you want good sex volunteer with the Dem Party.

Guessing you're 'American above all else..
enjoy your life! Only one run!

diff between us all.. the proverbial .. lets ... 'chat'

Joshua, conservatives can be non-believers. Here it is in very few words.

Many Republicans were non-believers before President Reagan invited the evangelicals to join the Party. No one had first counted them and they took over the Party, especially in the states.

Candidates for national office have a problem. To win nomination in the states they have to pretend to be more conservative than they are. To win election they have to pretend to be more moderate than they are.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

And here it is in many more words.

In 1948 Western conservative-leaning Repubs blamed Eastern moderate-leaning Repubs for Tom Dewey's loss to the Dem Harry Truman.

In 1952 the Dems and Repubs both wanted to run WW2 hero Eisenhower, a moderate. He ran as a Repub and easily beat Dem Adlai Stevenson. I was old enough to vote and an independent; I voted for Eisenhower.

By 1960 Western Repubs were hating Eisenhower's moderation. The far right Birchers called him a communist and started attacking moderates.

The battle peaked in 1964 with Rockefeller from the East versus Goldwater from the West. California voters gave Goldwater the Repub nomination.

In Congress, Southern Dems opposed civil rights legislation and left the Party. With moderate Repub support, the Dems passed the laws.

In the late 1960s the far right attack on moderate Repubs had cost the Party members, and Nixon's Southern Strategy brought racist Southern Dems into the Repub Party.

In 1972, in Arizona, I joined with a young Repub in a pro-environment effort. Our reasons were economic.

In 1974, in Arizona, I ran in the`Repub primary for a legislative seat. Coworkers teased me with "A moderate Repub in Phoenix is a lonely man" but I was too busy campaigning to feel lonely. Most first-time candidates got about 300 votes. I got 1800 and my incumbent opponent got 4000. I returned to my environmental activism, persuaded that Dems and Repubs were equally corrupt.

Still an independent, I decided that Dems were soft-headed and Repubs were hard-hearted.

In 1980 I worked in Repub moderate John Anderson's presidential campaign.

Reagan, early in his 1981-1989 presidency, invited the evangelicals to join the Repub Party. In college I had quit Catholicism for agnosticism and wanted NO religion. I changed my registration to Dem. I won't vote Repub while the religious right owns the Party.

In 1992 I worked in Ross Perot's campaign.

The Repub Party is bipolar. There's a war between libertarian-leaning small-gov't conservatives and authoritarian-leaning big-gov't conservatives.

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