How does being an atheist affect your politics?

I have been thinking about this for a while now. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be hanging out with my local atheist meetup group. I was new to the group, so I mostly sat back and listened, throwing in the occasional comment. Then the conversation turned to politics and the upcoming executive decision on gun rights. It was clear that they were on the side of banning firearms and imposing as many restrictions as possible. I sat back quietly and listened to what they were saying. Oh goodness, if they only knew my dirty little secret.

I’m a Libertarian. GASP!

Or Libertarian-ish. I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I want the government small and out of my personal space. I want to earn and keep as much of my money as possible while giving a reasonable amount of financial assistance to my fellow man (NOT government) in need. I want to keep my right to safely bear arms and protect my family if the need were to arise. I want a true separation of Church and State for the sake of my children and their children. Everyone is different, but these are my personal convictions. It had not occurred to me how much of minority conservative or middle of the road folks would be in the atheist community.

Last week I asked how everyone felt about proselytizing. Sword of Apollo made a bold statement in regards to people’s belief system and how it influences their vote:

“I wouldn’t care much about other people’s beliefs, if they didn’t vote to coerce people like me based on them. Various groups want to ban abortion, ban “vices,” impose forced charity such as welfare and Medicaid, impose subsidies, force employers to abide by labor union rules, impose minimum wages, etc.

When people use the government to coerce me like this, then I have a serious problem with the beliefs that cause them to do it.”

I agree with him wholeheartedly. What are your thoughts? I’m not asking for anyone to come out and tell me their own personal political choice, as that is none of my business. I am curious to see if you feel pulled more-so in one definite direction due to your non-belief?

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11 thoughts on “How does being an atheist affect your politics?

  1. M. Rodriguez says:

    actually I think around 30% of atheist vote republican. So the idea of being libertarian is not riduculus. I would say alot of atheist are libertarians. In fact in the city I live, one of the atheist meetup groups is a libertarian atheist meetup.

    Tampa Area Atheist Libertarians

    Tampa, FL
    60 ALs

    Meet local libertarian atheists for conversations and friendship! You must identify yourself as both an atheist (or an agnostic) and a libertarian to be a member. However, any…

    Check out this Meetup Group →

  2. M. Rodriguez says:

    I’ve only been two atheist meetups, and both times I have gone, I actually ended up spending a significant amount of time talking about myself. I think that is because the group is somewhat intrigued by someone who had only recently de-converted a few months ago. So they usually ask me a series of questions.

  3. anothernone says:

    The meetup group I go to is very laid back. They said that they get so tired of defending themselves to other people that they really don’t like to discuss their non-belief at the meetup. We talk a lot about music, hobbies, and movies. They were all quite surprised that I am still closeted. I believe I am the only one that is not open, but they all have very different family dynamic’s than I do.

    Thanks for the comment!

  4. For me, being an atheist demands that I not deliberately define myself by my political tendencies. However, it seems nearly impossible for me to agree with most Republicans.

  5. After leaning far right for years I tend to lean way left now. I want to keep my right to bare arms however I do have concerns and opinions on what types of arms those are.

    I look at each situation as a whole and then make my decision. It’s not always a democrats or republican thing for me. It’s sometimes a moral or ethical thing with me.

    Also I’ve not gone to any meetings. I’m very nervous to do that for some reason.

  6. anothernone says:

    @ Christo, I know what you mean. I can’t agree with most Republican’s either, especially the extreme righty’s.

    @ Agnostic Wife, I feel much the same. The more comfortable I am with my beliefs the more I lean to the left.

    You are nervous about your local atheist meetings? I was nervous too. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. No one really wanted to talk about atheist issues.They said they grew tired of defending themselves constantly to others so this was an outlet to talk amongst friends without it having to explain themselves. We talked about movies, music, politics, and drank beer. The age range was late twenties to mid-fifties. A really cool and diverse group!

  7. Ben Knotts says:

    This is a good read. 🙂

    Two questions – I just want to propose.

    If beliefs have no place in government – what is the basis for the ethic of a law? For example – a law prohibiting murder must presuppose a belief that the life of a man has value. A law prohibiting rape presupposes a belief that volitional consent is necessary in sexual interactions. If the value of individuals comes solely from the government – what basis is there to avoid another Nazi Germany or Mao-types inflicting genocide?

    Additionally – you seem to suggest that you seem to believe that no belief should impact legislation but wouldn’t your belief that “no belief should impact legislation” be impacting legislation if it allowed no other belief to impact legislation?

    My faith has led me to be libertarian – based on the presupposition that God always gives people the choice to follow him or not. It seems inconsistent for Christians to manipulate the government to force people to follow their God. Hypocrisy – in my opinion.

    Much love.

    • anothernone says:

      Hey Ben, thanks for the like and the comment!

      Your first question is going to be difficult to answer simply because of our differing beliefs. My question back to you is, what is your definition of ethics? Are you talking strictly moral philosophy? If so, here is my stance: I truly believe that you can be a good, upstanding, moral person without following religion. I think that good morals are what lead us to be ethical people. Knowing and doing what is right vs. what is wrong should be what leads us to make good choices, not the fear that there is a great God that is keeping score. Rape is defined as a sexual assault against an unwilling person. A rapist knows that it is wrong to have sex with someone aginst their will, but they do it anyway. A priest knows that molesting young boys is against his God’s will, but he does it anyway. Eric Robert Rudolph bombed an abortion clinic and killed a police officer and critically wounded a nurse all in the name of protecting innocent lives and God. There are bad religious people just like there are bad nonbelievers. We are ultimately responsible for the choices we make despite what a deity has told us. Our country was founded on Chrisitan beliefs, but that does not mean we have to continue to follow that same path. After all, we also had slavery during the time our country was founded and that turned out to be a really bad idea, right?

      I am confused by your second statement. I reread my post and I stated that there should be a true separation of Church and State. I do believe that. Please give me a specific example of how this is a bad idea and I will give you an honest answer.

      I agree with your last statement. That is why I believe in the separation of Church and State. Christians, or any religion for that matter, have no business telling me that I can or cannot have an abortion, force my kids to learn creation in public schools, mandate my birth control, etc. Why do our laws respect the religious wants and needs without the same consideration for the nonbelievers?

      Thanks again for the comment. I welcome any and all discussion no matter your belief.


  8. Atheism Live says:

    Personally, I lean very far to the left. I think that since this is the only life we have (no afterlife) we should make it the best we can. Humans evolved as social animals and we all win when we are all happy and healthy. However, my right to swing my arm has to end at my neighbor’s nose. There have to be some restrictions in a society as large and complex as ours is.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all about big government, I just think there is a place for such discussions. I don’t think we need to ban all firearms, but we don’t all need assault rifles. I don’t care for hunting, but if that is your thing, cool. If you think you need a gun to protect your home, you should have the right, but you don’t need a bazooka.

    I think your view of Medicaid and other social programs as “imposed forced charity” is an interesting perspective, but I disagree with it. I look at it like mandatory auto insurance. If you were hit by an uninsured driver through no fault of your own, you would own the full cost of your losses. (Sure you could sue, but what if the other drive can’t pay?) By mandating auto insurance, we all share a small portion of that risk.

    Similarly, by investing in social insurance (Medicare, Social Security, etc.) we are sharing the risk of growing old and sick. It is completely possible for a perfectly healthy individual to develop a debilitating illness through no fault of their own. Lets say you are in seemingly peak health, and then at the age of 40 you develop cancer. You and your family are now financially ruined. It is social safety nets like Medicare and Social Security that allow us to share this expense so that, as a whole, individuals in our society can manage these rough waters and continue to live happy, healthy, productive lives.

    • anothernone says:

      I am still middle of the road and leaning left.

      I agree with you as far as the gun rights go. We don’t need assault rifles or large magazines. I am fine with that ban, but still want the right to responsibly own a gun.

      It may be contradictory, but I don’t feel that Medicare is a forced imposed charity. We are usually caring for older people who have worked their whole lives and are worn down and need to be taken care of. Medicaid, in my humble opinion, is imposed charity. I know people need it and certainly do deserve it when they are on hard times. But I work in an industry where I see that it is abused daily. There are people who do not work to support what they are taking from the taxpayers and government. I should not have to pay for someone who is able bodied but does not want to work and chooses to have multiple children and uses Medicaid for insurance, welfare to pay their bills, Section 8 housing to live in, and food stamps to pay for their groceries. They need to be held accountable for their choices. It certainly is not their childrens fault, nor do I think a child should suffer for it. On the flip side, there are parents with children with severe disabilities and deserve the best care and treatment who are sometimes turned down for assistance due to some assinine reason or who are held hostage by drug formularies and do not receive the medication they need. It is the laziness that I can’t abide, not the people who truly deserve our help. You may be thinking that it is not for me to decide who should or should not get help, but as a hard working taxpayer, I disagree. Medicaid is close to being bankrupt due to too many people that are using and abusing the system. What then? Your analogy for Medicaid and mandatory auto insurance is interesting as well. The big difference is that we all have to pay for our auto insurance. Medicaid is FREE. The medications that you are are usually FREE. Big difference. I work and pay into the SS system, so by and large, I am literally paying it forward and do not mind it a bit.

      Thank you for the like and the comment! I love to discuss different opinions with others. I always walk away learning something new.

  9. There is certainly a link between Atheism and left wing politics, but I’m not sure if there is a causation. I think it’s more that the Church is part of the establishment, particularly in Europe, so both Atheism and left wing politics are anti-establishment. But I don’t think being an Atheist makes you more in favour of the welfare state. Honestly, I don’t think losing my faith changed any of my political beliefs.

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