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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Interesting conversation.

I was raised Democratic.I have voted both parties.Changed to Independent so I could choose.

I don't like labels.I have been liberal and think liberal at times.

Left/Right & Conservative .How about a middle of the road conservative ?

When some one creates a Conservative Atheist Group invite me.

Also a conservative atheist, conservative on fiscal issues and mixed on social issues.

I vote Republican but find there is a troubling tendency among many Republicans to push religion into the public square. But there is also a significant faction that is mainly concerned with controlling spending and the size of government. Some Republicans even support legalizing marijuana.

I considered briefly voting Dem in 2004 but found they were so far from where I was politically that I just could not support them. 

But most Republicans don't care that I'm an Atheist when I tell them, it's just a non-issue.

Liberals, unfortunately a different matter. Some are very nice about my different politics when I tell them I'm a conservative atheist, many more are openly hostile. Which is why I've avoided revealing my conservatism on most atheist sites.

I call myself conservative rather than libertarian because although I support smaller government and less regulation than we have now, I do think some of each are a necessary evil.

Andrew, maybe you can clear something up for me.  when you say "smaller gov't", what exactly does that mean?  are there certain programs that you would trim?  if so, why?  

there is no doubt that atheists can be conservatives.  i'm not so sure they can be the most recent iteration of conservativism since it is heavily dependent on religion, but still.  my guess is that you, like most atheist cons, are a fiscal conservative and a social liberal.  but the fiscal part really drives you.  i think it would be hard to be a social conservative while being an atheist.  let me know as i'm curious.  

We need to trim everything. There are people far more knowledgeable than I who can give specifics about elimination of programs altogether. But it's not just the size of government, but government regulations. there are so many regulations on the books that no one can possibly know them all, or even half of them.

We need to make it as easy as possible to start a business. Some of this, but by no means all it is a problem at the local level, but in some cities it takes months to start a business. And the hoops you have to jump through to do it cause a lot of people to give up. In fact some regulations are made to keep people from even starting in the first place. In a lot of cities you need a Certificate of Need to prove that the community has need of the business you want to start. 

This is often used by established businesses to keep competition from arising so they don't have to adapt and get better.

Entitlements need to be reformed. I'm all for a safety net but it has to end sometime. Obama is calling for further extension of unemployment benefits but is not saying when it will end. He will just ask for further extensions after this one expires and another after that. Are we going to be extending them in perpetuity? And don't even get me started on corporate welfare.

We just can't go on that way.

why do we need to trim everything?  when americans are asked specifically what dept's they want to cut, even when giving a list of dozens, they don't want to cut any of them.  and why should we have to?  can't we find revenues, such as corporate welfare, and keep the programs for the lesser off?  

i also think we see the idea of welfare differently.  you seem to lump it all in together, when many/most of our "entitlements" are earned benefits.  ss, medicaire, unemployment insurance all comes out of our paychecks as taxes.  now actual welfare, medicaid, and food stamps are all that's left.  sure, we could stick it to those folks, but why should we?  aren't there bigger fish to fry?  and waste/fraud only encompass about 2% of the programs.  so what's your beef with poor people? :)

ps - i noticed the bulk of your response was related to local gov'ts.  yet your ire is towards the federal.  

I would not get rid of welfare, that's where I disagree with strict libertarians. But we need to make it so people are not stuck on them indefinitely. It leads to dependency, which is something far worse than the cost.

And not wanting endless entitlements is not disliking the poor. 

My ire is with all of levels of government.

And again, I recognize some government, taxes and regulation is necessary. But we can get along with far less and be a lot better for it. We should look at every program and agency and ask, "Is this program or agency absolutely necessary to the point where we couldn't get along without it?"

We have a budget approaching $3 trillion. that is not responsible government. And this is not only a problem with Democrats. Bush had one of the worst fiscal records in history and Obama had to try pretty hard to be worse, but he succeeded.

i agree with most of what you said.  especially the "is this program or agency..." point.  what i don't agree with is the $3 trillion dollar budget thing.  first off, our budget is just under $1 trillion.  second, who are you to say what number it should be?  or me for that matter?  this is a BIG country, and the gov't does a lot of things.  most of them things that don't cater to the for profit crowd.  after all, what money is there in inspecting meat or monitoring air traffic?  

Our deficit is under $1 trillion the budget is close to $3 trillion. We haven't had a budget under $1 trillion since Reagan. And I'm I can say whatever I like. 

And yes we have a big country, we couldn't go back to the days of a few hundred people working for the federal government. But that does not mean there nothing to cut. We have a bloated government that could be cut back quite a lot and we would be better for it.

It doesn't cost $3 trillion dollars to inspect meat and build roads.

And I''m not rich, but I say to anyone who works hard and makes $1 million or even $1 billion, good for them. They have nothing to apologize for for being rich. 

WASHINGTON – Funding for implementing the new health care law and other sticking points remain, but negotiators reported significant progress Tuesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September.


the final number was below that $1.1 trillion number.  and our deficit is down to $650 billion.  if you don't believe me look it up.  

i don't think the rich have anything to apologize for either.  i hope to join them some day.  and i've never taken a dime from the gov't.  i've only given.  but i do think the rich can be taxed a lot more than they are.  i'm not talking about jacking them up to 70%+ like they used to be, but what about 42.3% (or 43.6%, i'm open) and to make hedge fund managers pay at ordinary income rather than 15%?  that's a start, and we could use that money to pay down the debt, if not eliminate the deficit!

You really need to look up the size of budgets. We spend nearly $3 trillion a year. We haven't had a proper budget, meaning funding for the whole year since Obama was president, even when Dems had both houses of congress with a filibuster proof Senate. The bill you are talking about only funds the government a few months or only funds certain parts of the government.

For example: the federal budget for 1996 was: $1.560 trillion.

Also you are confusing capital gains with income taxes. Raising capital gains taxes to 40% would be a disaster. And even if we raised taxes to 90% it wouldn't lower the deficit. Congress and the President would just use it for another wave of government growth and we'd still be in debt. They've made these promises before, "agree to raise taxes and we'll cut spending." They pass the tax hikes and use the money for new spending. Fool me five times shame on you, fool me six times shame on me.

Also you are confusing capital gains with income taxes. Raising capital gains taxes to 40% would be a disaster. And even if we raised taxes to 90% it wouldn't lower the deficit. Congress and the President would just use it for another wave of government growth and we'd still be in debt. They've made these promises before, "agree to raise taxes and we'll cut spending." They pass the tax hikes and use the money for new spending. Fool me five times shame on you, fool me six times shame on me.

this paragraph NEEDS to be taken apart.  

i'm not confusing anything.  ever heard of carried interest?  if not, please look it up so you understand the difference.  i'm not an educator i'm a pointy outer.  

if we raised taxes to 90% of the rich we we MOST CERTAINLY lower the deficit.  it may kill the economy, but lower the deficit (at least immediately) it would.  that's a ton of revenue, and given current spending deficits it would likely cut it down to a fraction.  

as for the whole "spending" thing, perhaps you've noticed that our budget has DECREASED for 2 consecutive years.  credit conservatives if you will, but it's happened under a Dem potus.  last time that happened was in the mid 20th century.  

I'm not going to defend Republican presidents who were bad on the deficit. Bush has no excuse at all. He had both houses of congress and did nothing to curb the size of government. 

Bush 41 and Reagan got duped by congress who promised spending cuts in exchange for tax hikes. Congress got those tax hikes and raised spending anyway.

And the only reason we we a reduction in spending in the past two years are a Republican house and the sequester cuts If Dems had taken back the House in 2012 we'd be seeing a very different story.

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