S.E. Cupp: It’s a myth that conservatism is hostile to atheism

posted at 8:41 pm on July 30, 2014 by Allahpundit

Well, sort of yes and sort of no. She’s right that most conservatives welcome atheist fellow travelers. I remember telling a friend before HA launched that I’d be writing for a righty website and him telling me that I should hide my nonbelief, but I didn’t and it’s never been a problem. The most static I catch for it is when I’ve written something extra RINO-y and a commenter grumbles that we shouldn’t expect any better from the godless. Even that’s rare; the smoking gun of RINOism that’s most often cited by my righty critics is support for gay marriage, not atheism. So yeah, certainly this is no bar to entry into the commentariat. In fact, more conservative atheists seem to be writing about their dual identities. See, e.g., Robert Tracinski in April at the Federalist making “an atheist’s case for religious liberty” or Charles Cooke back in February arguing that godlessness and conservatism aren’t incompatible after all.

I think Cupp’s right too that righty atheists on average respect religion more than their liberal counterparts do. That’s probably mainly a function of exposure: If you’re a conservative of whatever demographic and whatever educational level and you associate mostly with other conservatives, chances are you’re going to run into and end up being friends with some devoutly religious people. I’m not so sure that’s true on the left. If you’re a highly educated, reasonably well-to-do liberal — coincidentally, the same niche that most of the left’s commentariat comes from — devoutly religious friends may be hard to come by. (Call it epistemic closure.) Just as polls on gay marriage show support for SSM rising steeply among people who have at least one acquaintance who’s come out of the closet, I suspect that knowing religious people whom you respect inevitably softens your view on the value of religion.

But look: Certainly there’s some wariness about atheism within conservatism. Go look at one of those polls in which a variety of supposedly undesirable traits in a would-be president are listed and people are asked to name which ones would make you less likely to vote for him/her. Atheism is always at or near the top of the list. That’s not the fault of conservatism alone; plenty of religious Democrats look askance at atheists too, and if you doubt that, ask yourself how many Democrats in Congress have been willing to cop to nonbelief while in office. Offhand the only one I can think of is Pete Stark, who was later ousted in a primary. Barney Frank copped to being an atheist only after he retired, which is telling — it was safer for him politically to admit to being gay than to doubting God’s existence. If you polled Republicans and Democrats today and asked them whether they’d be positive, negative, or neutral about having a president who identifies as atheist, I guarantee that both sides would tilt negative and feel reasonably confident (considering that there are more liberal atheists than conservative ones) that conservatives would tilt more negative than liberals would. See Cooke’s piece linked above for an insight as to why. The most common complaint from religious people about atheists in my experience is that we lack a moral foundation; they can always resort to the Good Book for guidance, but what does the atheist resort to? “The Selfish Gene”? Logically, that concern will be more common among religious people than it will among the less religious, so go figure that conservatives, a more religious group, might show that concern more strongly. I wouldn’t call that “hostility” to atheism as much as, let’s say, skepticism of it, but it’s there. And yes, it’s there among plenty of Democrats too.


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I subscribe to the other nine. I follow the other nine more carefully than most religious people.

burt on July 31, 2014 at 4:50 PM

LOL! Why bother? Why not just live your life the way you want unconstrained by rules?

corkie on July 31, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Just had the misfortune to follow this thread. Mazer wants desperately NOT to believe in the god Mazer believes causes all the problems in the world. Fine, then go find the God who gave up His only Son out of LOVE. After all, it takes far, far, far, more faith to believe that there ISN’T a God than that there IS…….If I’m wrong, I’ve lived an ordered life and tried to uphold some pretty incredible principals…If Mazer is wrong…………..
well……….
um…….
The only way Mazer can attack God the way he is doing is because (as my ‘ole pappy used to say to me when I went through my rebelliousness) Mazer is under the conviction of the Holy Spirit…….
Go ahead and let me have it Mazer…………as best as you can….beat me up and prove how foolish I am……

see you at the Cross…..

colonelkurtz on July 31, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Just had the misfortune to follow this thread. Mazer wants desperately NOT to believe in the god Mazer believes causes all the problems in the world. Fine, then go find the God who gave up His only Son out of LOVE. After all, it takes far, far, far, more faith to believe that there ISN’T a God than that there IS…….If I’m wrong, I’ve lived an ordered life and tried to uphold some pretty incredible principals…If Mazer is wrong…………..
well……….
um…….
The only way Mazer can attack God the way he is doing is because (as my ‘ole pappy used to say to me when I went through my rebelliousness) Mazer is under the conviction of the Holy Spirit…….
Go ahead and let me have it Mazer…………as best as you can….beat me up and prove how foolish I am……

see you at the Cross…..

colonelkurtz on July 31, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Just had the “misfortune” of reading your ridiculous post. Atheist don’t believe in Gods. That’s pretty much the beginning and end of atheism. I know that might be a pretty tough concept for someone as highly indoctrinated as yourself to grasp. Consequently, I feel no need to “attack God”, for the same reason I feel no need to attack Santa. However, I will call out believers on occasion. Their existence is painfully obvious.

Sorry if I don’t feel the need to “hedge” my bets by pretending to believe in an invisible god. I’m sure you don’t give any second thoughts about all the other religions out there. Similarly, I don’t give a second thought to theirs our yours for that matter. Perhaps I should throw salt over my shoulder whenever I spill some on the ground? You know? Just in case?

And saying it takes just as much “faith” to NOT believe in god is probably the most ironic thing I’ve heard today.

mazer9 on July 31, 2014 at 7:45 PM

I don’t care if you’re an (place appropriate group ID here), if you’re conservative, welcome aboard. We need all the conservatives we can muster.

Conservchik on July 31, 2014 at 7:49 PM

The selective use of your sources don’t make sense. They don’t demonstrate what you seem to be so convinced that they demonstrate. It’s like you keep repeating the fact that a sign says “Bridge Out.” How does that demonstrate that people who believe that the bridge is out are intolerant?

corkie on July 31, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Christians don’t “selectively” cite sources from the bible? Can not two Christians read the same verse and reach entirely different conclusions? Is my conclusion any less valid then theirs? The one verse I cited seem pretty clear regarding believers not to “fellowship” with non-believers.

Perhaps Christians should just ignore that one? Modern Christians tend to ignore a lot of the bible these days.

I wonder why?

mazer9 on July 31, 2014 at 7:52 PM

And saying it takes just as much “faith” to NOT believe in god is probably the most ironic thing I’ve heard today.

mazer9 on July 31, 2014 at 7:45 PM

.
It takes more of ‘something’ to believe that all of the genetic codes for all of the carbon-based life forms, gradually evolved from nothing.

listens2glenn on July 31, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Well … I guess they’re not going move this thread to the left.

listens2glenn on July 31, 2014 at 8:04 PM

Christians don’t “selectively” cite sources from the bible?

mazer9 on July 31, 2014 at 7:52 PM

That’s not what I meant. I’m saying that the selections that you are quoting aren’t demonstrating what you think they are demonstrating. You’re falling short.

The one verse I cited seem pretty clear regarding believers not to “fellowship” with non-believers.

First, that was explained to you. You didn’t counter at all. You just ignored it. Second, that quote hardly seems to promote intolerance and hostility. It seemed as if other commenters were saying that it was written to that town because it’s difficult to keep the faith if you surround yourself with people who will tempt you to disbelieve. Sorry, but that quote doesn’t seem like the smoking gun that you seem to think it is.

corkie on July 31, 2014 at 8:15 PM

First, that was explained to you. You didn’t counter at all. You just ignored it. Second, that quote hardly seems to promote intolerance and hostility. It seemed as if other commenters were saying that it was written to that town because it’s difficult to keep the faith if you surround yourself with people who will tempt you to disbelieve. Sorry, but that quote doesn’t seem like the smoking gun that you seem to think it is.

corkie on July 31, 2014 at 8:15 PM

I did counter it. See above.

mazer9 on July 31, 2014 at 9:05 PM

it’s difficult to keep the faith if you surround yourself with people who will tempt you to disbelieve.

Imagine that.

mazer9 on July 31, 2014 at 9:11 PM

I did counter it. See above.

mazer9 on July 31, 2014 at 9:05 PM

Repeating your original comment is not countering.

corkie on July 31, 2014 at 9:12 PM

Imagine that.

mazer9 on July 31, 2014 at 9:11 PM

That ruins your argument.

corkie on July 31, 2014 at 9:13 PM

Repeating your original comment is not countering.

corkie on July 31, 2014 at 9:12 PM

Please look up the word “fellowship” in a dictionary.

mazer9 on July 31, 2014 at 10:46 PM

Please look up the word “fellowship” in a dictionary.

mazer9 on July 31, 2014 at 10:46 PM

I assure you that neither intolerance nor hostility are antonyms.

corkie on July 31, 2014 at 10:57 PM

It’s been fun, everybody . . . . . see y’all on the next Christianity vs atheism thread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

listens2glenn on July 31, 2014 at 11:29 PM

What exactly makes her Conservative? Was it her book on religion she doesn’t believe in? Nah. She enjoys guns and wants fiscal responsibly. That’s all it takes to call yourself a Conservative now? She is Libertarian at best. It’s tiresome when these people loosely use the term, just like Karl Rove’s Conservative Victory Project, Jennifer Rubin the ‘Conservative’ at the WP, David Brooks the ‘Conservative’ at the NYT, Joe Scarborough the ‘Conservative’ at MSNBC, David Frum the ‘Conservative’ from Canada and now Sarah Elizabeth Cupp the Conservative on CNN. No thanks. I’ll stick with Hannity and Levin.

CommieJuice on August 1, 2014 at 12:21 AM

It takes more of ‘something’ to believe that all of the genetic codes for all of the carbon-based life forms, gradually evolved from nothing.
listens2glenn on July 31, 2014 at 8:01 PM

We don’t know if there was “nothing” as you say before the big bang. How is God coming from the unknown less believable than an explosion of time and space from the same? A common Christian explanation of what came before God is that, “God always was”. But if we even leave open the possibility that with the universe in some unknown form always existed, that’s more faith based?

elfman on August 1, 2014 at 6:55 AM

She is Libertarian at best.

CommieJuice on August 1, 2014 at 12:21 AM

SE Cupp is not libertarian at all. On an episode of Real News, Will Cain asked a panel of 5 to map out where their political philosophy was on clock face shaped grid. I forget the exact terms, but is was labeled with something like Autocracy at 12:00, Anarchy at 6:00, Private ownership at 3:00, Public ownership at 9:00. Everyone plotted themselves between 3:00 and 6:00 where you would expect libertarian leaning conservatives and libertarians. SE put herself at 12:30 or 1:00, where you would expect statist authoritarian Republicans (aka RINOs). Maybe SE didn’t understand the implications of how far she plotted herself from liberty and private property, but it’s clear that she’s not libertarian.

elfman on August 1, 2014 at 7:11 AM

Who does this remind you of? lol

“…I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.” -Albert Einstein

non-nonpartisan on August 1, 2014 at 9:02 AM

Dark Current,

I am doubtful you actually read the articles I linked to, but I am going to be charitable and assume you did. You ask whether a God that cannot sin can make creatures that can. The answer is obviously yes. First, can you explain why it would logically impossible for God to create beings capable of sinning? God can’t sin since He is reason itself and pure actuality. To commit evil would be to go against reason and for God that would be a contradiction. God also cannot create something that would be reason itself and that is purely actual because that would be in essence creating Himself and would a logical contradiction.

Mike Rathbone on July 31, 2014 at 6:31 AM

It seems there are a lot of things an omnipotent god can’t do…

On the other hand, while God can’t do evil directly, He can certainly create things that He knows, being omniscient, will?

How does that work?

DarkCurrent on August 1, 2014 at 3:47 PM

The Christian religion is an incoherent mess.

DarkCurrent on August 2, 2014 at 5:59 PM

“I’m not so sure that’s true on the left. If you’re a highly educated, reasonably well-to-do liberal — coincidentally, the same niche that most of the left’s commentariat comes from — devoutly religious friends may be hard to come by. (Call it epistemic closure.)”

Allahpundit – If you believe this, you surely, then, don’t really know the liberal community very well. The contradiction to your comment above is even in the rest of your post when you speak about Democrats also having a problem with an atheist politician. It just stands to reason that this problem with atheism among Democrats comes from being devoutly religious themselves!

But, I don’t think you are that closed off from the liberal community to believe that devoutly religious friends are hard to come by. In point of fact, much of the so-called “feelings” oriented disposition by many liberals (and what I hear conservatives often pointing out as a fatal flaw of liberalism) is rooted in a very strong sense of religious conviction. I, myself, am what you would probably call a “highly educated, reasonably well-to-do liberal” and I am very much a person committed to the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church. Most of my liberal friends are also devout Christians and Jews (and I can also count some devout Muslims among my circle of liberal friends, too). Our religions are what, in fact, INFORM our liberalism.

Now I will concede one point to you. If, by “devoutly religious” you really mean “orthodox fundamentalist and scriptural literalist,” then you may be on to something. (But even then I’d question it because I have a lot of conservative friends who are fundamentalist Christians; and we tend to get along just fine, too.) But I would argue that being “devoutly religious” does not mean being an orthodox fundamentalist and scriptural literalist.

And even still, I have some liberal friends (a distinct minority) who are atheists — including one of my daughters. And we all get along just fine. I have no problem with their atheism. They have no problem with my being a “devoutly religious” social-justice, Pope Francis Catholic.

JimmyHuck on August 3, 2014 at 1:11 PM

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