Why don't liberals and Democrats fully embrace atheism?

Warning- Minor Witnessing

I’m a liberal Democrat. I’m also a Conservadox Jew who keeps covenant with the G-d of Abraham and believes He keeps covenant with me.

Like meat and dairy, I believe church and state should be kept separate. I hate ‘ceremonial deism’ and want it gone. I believe deeply in the Lord. I find the OP’s conflation of ‘liberal democrats’ with atheists more baffling than the existence of evil or the existence of suffering.

I think you’re getting cause/effect reversed. I think most Atheists support Democrats because they are distressed or offended by the Religious Right who explicitly want the government to support their ‘traditional’ values at the expense of everyone else. Democrats are generally accepting of religion, including non-Christian believers, and out and out atheists. When one is rejected by one group, yet accepted by another, the choice is generally easy.

For that matter I know several Right-leaning atheists, but they’re mostly in it for wedge issues or wealth protection, not the rest of the ideology.

This doesn’t match the historical persistence of Christianity or Islam. Neither of those started with any particular ethnic group.

Because why would they? Why should they?

And really, the whole trope of that for all purposes “religious” translates to “Fundamentalist Evangelical” is getting tiresome. In a different thread myself and others said something to the effect of “I am not going to surrender the flag to the rightist nationalists to own”. Well, I can equally imagine believers saying “I am not going to surrender Faith to them to own, either.”

Which BTW reminds me of the times even in this board where we had people arguing favorably that someone as intelligent and right-minded as Obama had to be a closet atheist or an atheist-in-denial. Never understood the point.

Because that isn’t either liberalism’s substance, or atheism’s substance. Nor are the two the same thing.

The Universe and life was made naturally via Big Bang/evolution, there is no intelligent design

Many liberals believe that. Many others don’t. Atheists do, yes. And lots of religious people accept evolution.

the Bible is historically and scientifically inaccurate,

That’s a very broad description, that could cover anything from ‘this particular passage is a parable, not meant to be taken for literal truth’ to ‘nothing in here is accurate at all.’ I doubt much of anybody believes the latter; there’s agreement that there’s some actual history in there confirmed from other sources. Many religious people believe some passages are parables, or mistranslations, or inaccuracies introduced by human writers. Both theists and atheists may disagree among themselves about which is which. Theists disagree with each other about which books even count. And there are lots of non-Christian theists, including non-Abrahamic theists.

people should be free to do as they please if it doesn’t harm others (if you’re gay, great, if you’re trans, great,

Lots of religious people believe this. Some atheists don’t.

if you want to have safe consensual sex with a hundred different legal-age partners, great)

Some religious people believe this. Some atheists don’t. Some liberals don’t. Believing something should be legal isn’t the same thing as believing that it’s great.

abortion is fine

If “fine” translates to “should be legal”, plenty of religious people believe this also. And some atheists don’t.

prayer is useless

If that means ‘God isn’t going to answer it’ as opposed to ‘some humans find it useful to focus their minds’, then atheists believe it. Plenty of liberals don’t.

there is no reason women should ever be on a lower rung than men

Lots of religious people believe this one. And some atheists don’t. (And are you saying women should be on a lower rung than men, and further that you think this is a standard position of everyone who’s not an atheist?!)

God never steps in to intervene

Atheists believe that one, sure. So do deists. Some liberals do. Some liberals don’t.

religion is the cause of a great deal of harm and death in the world

Lots of people believe that one, including many of those going on the most about how religious they themselves are. Some people think it’s never applied to their particular religion, sure; but quite a lot of those think somebody else’s religion is harmful.

And many of those who believe it also think that religion’s been the cause of a great deal of good in the world. Including some atheists.

we answer to no supreme deity but only ourselves (fellow mankind and society)

I think you may be confusing ‘we are a secular society and laws meant to apply to all members of society should answer only to fellow humankind and society’ with ‘individuals all answer only to other humans and not to any god.’ The former is a liberal tenet, which is held by many religious people as well as by atheists. The latter is not: some liberals believe it, others don’t. I agree that atheists believe it.

miracles are impossible

If “miracle” is defined as “something caused by God”, then atheists believe that. Not all liberals do.

there is no life after death

Not all liberals believe that one, either. And not all religions expect an afterlife in the Christian sense.

everything has a scientific or natural explanation.

Not all liberals or all Democrats believe that one.

And then there’s this, quoted for truth:

THANK YOU. I’m a liberal Christian who is so sick of having to say “I’m not that kind of Christian” when someone looks at me sideways when I talk about my religion.

I’m a liberal Democratic Christian. Are you saying that I should abandon my religious beliefs for the sake of some imagined political advantage? Anyone who would do so never had any religious beliefs to begin with.

Do I accept other people who are atheists? Sure. As do most Democrats. Doesn’t make me an atheist myself.

Definitely! I grew up and was confirmed in a very liberal Christian church, but in my teen years was pretty anti-Christian, due to some unfortunate encounters with some real fuckers. It took knowing some wonderful Christian progressive activists to bring me back, not to faith, but to understanding of how Christianity could be a force for good in the world.

(FWIW, I’m not making any sort of exclusive claim about Christianity here; it’s just the religion I’m most familiar with on a personal and community level).

I have noticed a tendency by the OP to equate “religion” with “Evangelical Christianity of the American kind” in many threads now, and I blame it on him being raised on that faith himself, as I seem to remember from his own statements. But in all those threads, the reactions were just like here in this thread, that this is a warped view of religion and Christianity as a whole, and it has to stop. @Velocity, have you never learned anything from all those other threads where this was pointed out to you?

Do you know what that means? It means everyone is free to worship as per their faith - Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Pagan, etc and yes, also not worship. It does not mean no one in politics gets to have a religion.


Sanders has faith, but not religion. Maybe like some of the Founding fathers who were held to deism.

Oddly, I’d prefer a Candidate who is not strongly religious, but not a avowed atheist either.

Good points.

Paraphrasing something I read or heard recently -
Two or three times a week as a child and teenager, my parents went out of their way to make sure that I was specifically taught that everyone was my neighbor and I was to care for them all no matter what, to help other people, to give to the poor and needy, to take care of people who are sick, to protect the accused and care for prisoners, to welcome refugees and aliens, to care for the earth, and that financial injustice is evil. (there was even the occasional argument for veganism).
Why is anyone surprised that I’m a liberal?

The OP seems to have conflated “belief in God” with “belief in specific, often times non-biblical and non-creedal statements and offbeat interpretations by ‘leaders’ of a small, noisy branch of Christianity.”

This. Joe Biden is accused of being a leftist liberal by those on the far right. Joe Biden is also a devout Roman Catholic. Being to the left of the political spectrum does not automatically include being an atheist.

I don’t know where I said anything about ethnic groups.

Sure, religions do shrink and grow. They do gain converts. I didn’t say it was 100%. But look around you; how many people now converted (a real conversion, not a mild switch between two similar sects under the same umbrella) and how many were raised in their religion?

Our loved one’s mortality is traumatizing and religion/afterlife is a highly effective antidote to existential dread.

If we were immortal, then you would have a lot more people embracing atheism because we wouldn’t need that antidote.

Well…Islam did largely start with a particular ethnic group. If we are to believe tradition Muhammed himself was a universalist, but from his death until the final success of the Abbasid revolution in 750 Islam was functionally an ethnic religion of the Arabs. There were an increasing number of non-Arab converts especially as you drift into the 8th century, but they had a distinctly second-class status. It was in fact the increasing numbers of these second-class mawali that helped precipitate the Abbasid revolution (a certain strain of early proto-Shi’ism played into it as well).

Islam is very much a universalist faith and has been for the vast majority of its history. But it did go through a very early period of Arab exceptionalism.

This article says it’s not as rare as you might think; 28% of American adults have changed religions at least once in their lives. That includes switches to and from “no religion”, but doesn’t include people who just moved to a different denomination of Christianity; if they’re included, it’s about 50% of the adult population.

The article is full of interesting tidbits; would you have guessed that the majority (albeit not a large majority) of those raised in secular households become religious as adults? (Of course, since those are a small minority of Americans, and since there is also a lot of movement the other way, this doesn’t prevent “None of the Above” from being the fastest growing religion in America). Of those religiously nonaffiliated, though, only 40% identify as atheists, and an only slightly smaller group feels that they are unaffiliated because they “just haven’t found the right religion yet”.

Catholicism is losing big, in that four people convert out for every one that converts in (though immigration has enabled them to not lose ground as a percentage of Americans overall). Fully 10% of Americans identify as ex-Catholics. Unlike other religions, where most of those leaving do so because they find another religion more appealing or for personal reasons (marriage, etc), most of those leaving Catholicism do so for doctrinal reasons, almost all relating to sexuality and gender issues.

And it’s the same with Christianity, which started out as an exclusively Jewish sect. It took several generations for Christians to reach a consensus that it was OK to accept non-Jewish converts.

As Jimmy Snow, avowed atheist (ex-Mormon), has said, “I don’t care what you believe but rather how you treat people.”

There’s also a question of what exactly is meant by “atheism”. I believe in the “God” of Quantum Mechanics that decides how quantum particles behave when their probabilistic existence must become more defined. I fully admit that my interpretation of QM may be completely misguided in this sense, but it’s what I’ve come to believe in my superficial study of the field. I believe that the universe from created due to some process that involves things outside of our universe that we have no hope of defining, and those things might be labeled our universe’s creator. These things might have the same origin as the God of QM, but we have no way of knowing.

So I believe in some God who is capable of making small changes in the outcome of events, but not one that resembles anything that would be worthy of worship. I believe in a creator of the universe in some sense, but it is not necessarily the same as the God I believe in. Am I an atheist? I have a feeling a lot of well-educated people have very similar feelings, and some may even project their own religion on top of those beliefs in order to claim it’s a regular religion, whereas I find it more akin to atheism in terms of what it means for my everyday life. I’m a good person because that’s what helps society the most, not because I expect some eternal reward.

Religious conservative

Religiously unaffiliated atheist

Leaving a particular denomination or even organized religion all together not religious


It’s not just young, liberal Democrats moving away from organized religion. All sorts of demographic groups are leaving. Also, they’re not becoming agnostics or atheists. They may believe in supernatural beings, including God. They just check “none” on surveys asking religious affiliation.