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Author Topic: Soliciting opinions on electability of various religions
Flying Fish
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I'm looking for opinions, and this looks like the place to get them!

Every elected US President has been an arguable, more-or-less, Christian of some sort. Some rarely attended church, some had close fiends who outed them after their deaths as agnostics, several had controversies regarding just how good or bad or acceptable they were in their faith, but all publicly referred to "God" and most were affiliated with a Protestant church of one sort. The sole Catholic was very charismatic and had a very close election.

Here's my question: do you think the US electorate would elect a Catholic? A Mormon? A Sikh? A Hindu? A Jew? A Buddhist? A Muslim? How about a self-professed agnostic or atheist?

I'm specifically NOT looking for discussion regarding anyone being a stealth Muslim or any editorials about any current or past presidents.

I would like different perspectives on the American electorate. If you're not eligible to vote in US elections, please self-identify. If you are eligible but never vote, please say so.

If this has been addressed in a specific thread before, I apologize for the redundancy, but I didn't see it while searching topics.

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Stephan
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I strongly feel that it will be a long time before someone who does not at least CLAIM to be a Christian (from my perspective that includes Catholics and Mormons) is elected president.

I just don't have enough faith in the American population to put prejudice aside in terms of religion.

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Samprimary
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http://www.gallup.com/poll/26611/some-americans-reluctant-vote-mormon-72yearold-presidential-candidates.aspx

Basically, 'if you've got a great candidate who is X, would you still vote for them?'

Atheists regularly feature at the bottom of these lists, but we in the United States also wildly homophobic and islamophobic in terms of electoral rejection. Atheists, gays, and muslims could not be elected president without an incredibly non-viable candidate on the other side, and they would lose due to prejudice about half of the american voters will automatically reject them solely for virtue of being atheist, gay, or muslim. Sikhs would be lumped in with the 'scarey furrigners' but likely not do as badly. Unknown about hindus, but they would have more problems than buddhists. Mormons are problematic and can expect to be unacceptable to a quarter of the population right off the bat. On the other side of the scale, catholics and jews do okay and could easily be elected with little inhibition from prejudice.

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Flying Fish
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Thanks for linking to that poll. I have a degree of skepticism about he results. Wouldn't most "sophisticated" people be reluctant to come out and say, "No, I'd never vote for x" knowing that that makes them look prejudiced, even though in their innermost heart they may think x is an absolute disqualifier?

Having said that, it would be very interesting to see a 72-year old lesbian Hispanic atheist who has been married three times get the nomination from a major political party. I'd really have to think that over. How is she on global warming?

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scholarette
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I'll be honest- the 72 year old part makes me reluctant to vote for her. For religion, I would initially say oh, that wouldn't affect me, but it depends on how they apply their beliefs. For example, if say a pacifist were running, I would have to question their abilities in foreign policy. If they were a pacifist and more specific- like they themself wouldn't shoot someone, but would have no problem giving the order to kill, I'd probably be good with that. Another potential sitaution for me would be if the Muslim was, despite agreeing on all other issues, pushing for Sharia law. That would have to be something self professed- not just something the other side claimed. An atheist would be the least complicated yes, unless they were advocating education camps for us religious folk like KofM does. [Smile]
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Flying Fish:
Thanks for linking to that poll. I have a degree of skepticism about he results. Wouldn't most "sophisticated" people be reluctant to come out and say, "No, I'd never vote for x" knowing that that makes them look prejudiced, even though in their innermost heart they may think x is an absolute disqualifier?

Always a concern. But given how many people will flat out declare it still on a poll, you can be sure we've easily passed the threshold where these factors alone render someone unelectable in America.
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Tresopax
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I think a candidate who was ideal in all other areas and who ran a fantastic campaign could get elected regardless of what religion they belonged to, at this point in American history. However, I also think being of a minority religion would make it harder - which in turn makes it less likely a party would consider nominating such a person over other available candidates.

I generally think it is fair to consider religious beliefs as a factor when choosing who to vote for, although I also think that factor needs to be weighted appropriately low on the scale of importance... it is far less significant than many other factors, as proven by the fact that there have been great leaders worldwide in every major religious tradition.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
do you think the US electorate would elect a Catholic?
This could never happen. [Razz]
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AchillesHeel
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Sarcasticly, an atheist could run with the slogan "I seek advice from educated proffessionals, not my imaginary friends" or realisticly "My actions are influenced by thought and experiance, I request your vote not because you expect me to be a part of a divine plan that is beyond anyones control but because you are of the opinion that I could be of use to the American people in the office of president. Thank you for your consideration"

As far any single religion, Im not worried about a particular one because all religion is based on the core idea of "be good" and people are the ones who turn that into sexism and holy wars. In terms of a single candidate I am always curious as to how strictly religous are they, a good catholic respects the Vatican, a good muslim would schedule presidential activities around prayer, orthodox women in many religions would defer to thier husbands rather than advisors. Also Im a bit paranoid about candidates who seem to be bought and paid for by rich and active international religious organizations who may not have the interests of innocent Americans in mind.

The strategy that seems to work is "I believe in God and being good" and just ignoring the moral restraints of any religion. Although I would be inclined to support an orthodox jew if they pledge to not observe certain religious practices that would restrict thier accessibility in matters of national importance, cant have the command and chief going awol every sabbath. From my limited understanding of orthodox judaism they seem to follow very strict but level headed laws and I believe that someone who has been raised by such restrictions and good values would be beneficial for America.

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Hobbes
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My answer: No to all of those but Catholic.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Anthonie
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Catholics don't get elected as Presidents. They get appointed as Supreme Court Justices.
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Jenos
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Have there been any catholic presidents after Kennedy?

Achilles, the main problem I see with an Atheist running for president is that regardless of however they phrase it, there is a very common perception that Atheist = Immoral. The fact that it is untrue is largely unimportant, but that idea remains in people's heads that one needs to understand God to do what is right in this world.

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Sterling
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Well, Kerry was Catholic, and he came pretty close. I don't think his losing had much to do with his being Catholic, though.

I tend to think that as... Well, let's not mince words... as foolish as some segments of the electorate can be, as a whole we don't tend to want candidates who are particularly strident about their religion one way or another, because to some degree we recognize the need for a President who can lead all of us, not prioritize the people who are like him (or maybe, eventually, like her.) I think this is part of the reason we're not likely to see an atheist in the White House any time soon: the kind that would seek public office is the type who would be most likely to offend the religious.

I could imagine a person of Jewish or Mormon faith rising to the presidency in the next decade or two. For the moment, a Buddhist or Muslim candidate would probably get a lot of sideways questions about their "real" loyalties and get derailed before they ever became the official candidate of the party.

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FoolishTook
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If I agreed with them on social and fiscal issues, and they seemed moral and honest, I'd vote for just about anyone.

I think people are naturally more inclined to support someone who resembles them in some way, and with Protestants in the majority, the generic non-Catholic Christian usually wins.

But we're not voting for a king, merely someone to uphold and defend the Constitution. An atheist, Muslim, Hindu, old guy, or gay person can do that just fine.

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katharina
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quote:
"I seek advice from educated proffessionals, not my imaginary friends"
I would never vote for someone with this slogan. I would never vote for someone who clearly had such contempt and loathing for his constituents.

----

49% of voters distrust Mormons. It'll never happen.

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Geraine
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Honestly I could care less what religion a presidential candidate belongs to as long as they can run the country well. They can be Muslim, Hindu, LDS, Catholic, even a Scientologist. As long as they run the country impartial to their religion, I don't have a problem.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
49% of voters distrust Mormons. It'll never happen.
People said the same thing about Catholics once. I mean, I realize it's been said in this thread Katharina, but I'm not sure why you can say it'll never happen so surely when that *exact* level of prejudice has been overcome before against a group that was similarly ostracized.
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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
quote:
"I seek advice from educated proffessionals, not my imaginary friends"
I would never vote for someone with this slogan. I would never vote for someone who clearly had such contempt and loathing for his constituents.

I doubt an atheist candidate would be considered viable unless he or she displayed a much deeper understanding of religious belief than this, and a much higher degree of tolerance for religious beliefs to go with it.

I wish the same could be said for many candidates on the far right.

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SoaPiNuReYe
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After Obama I don't think we'll even see another black president. Not for a couple decades at least. I could see a woman president getting elected soon, but that's all I see minorities getting anytime soon. I could see a Catholic getting elected soon though.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
quote:
"I seek advice from educated proffessionals, not my imaginary friends"
I would never vote for someone with this slogan. I would never vote for someone who clearly had such contempt and loathing for his constituents.

I doubt an atheist candidate would be considered viable unless he or she displayed a much deeper understanding of religious belief than this, and a much higher degree of tolerance for religious beliefs to go with it.

I wish the same could be said for many candidates on the far right.

Nailed it.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
49% of voters distrust Mormons. It'll never happen.
People said the same thing about Catholics once. I mean, I realize it's been said in this thread Katharina, but I'm not sure why you can say it'll never happen so surely when that *exact* level of prejudice has been overcome before against a group that was similarly ostracized.
I'm not sure the two situations are quite the same as there was, even in 1960, a significant portion of the country that was Catholic. Mormons are still a very small percent. Which means that a bigger share of those that weren't of that religion distrusted them. That could have an impact on how flexible people were in their opinion.
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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by AchillesHeel:
Sarcasticly, an atheist could run with the slogan "I seek advice from educated proffessionals, not my imaginary friends" or realisticly "My actions are influenced by thought and experiance, I request your vote not because you expect me to be a part of a divine plan that is beyond anyones control but because you are of the opinion that I could be of use to the American people in the office of president. Thank you for your consideration"

Sure, they could. But only if they had no real desire to be elected, or taken seriously.
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The Rabbit
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I think that surveys of this kind should always be viewed with a large degree of skepticism. People have already mentioned that many people would be reluctant to answer in a way that made them seem prejudice but I doubt that this first kind of bias is all that strong because with the exception of Judaism, there isn't a particularly strong social stigma against religious prejudice.

I think the more serious bias arises because people are much more likely to hold a bias against a particular group than against an individual in that group. For example, I have been in numerous situations where some one says something derogatory about Mormons and then looks at me and says "Oh, but not you of course". We all have stereotypes about different groups of people. If you think you don't your deceiving yourself. It's part of how the human brain works. When people we know and like don't fit those stereotypes we tend to see them as somehow exceptional rather than discarding our original stereotypes. Often that's true. I am in many ways unusual among Mormons, for example.

When it comes to the wire, most of our stereotypes are more flexible than we think we are. Perhaps i'm being too generous, but I tend to believe that far fewer people would vote against a candidate they otherwise really liked based solely on their religion (or lack there of) if there we a specific candidate in question than would you see in these polls.

Consider the following. 49% voters say they distrust Mormons but the senate majority leader, Harry Reid is Mormon and it never seems to be an issue. There are two kinds of people who distrust Mormons -- fundamentalist Christians and social liberals. I'm pretty sure that if a pro-choice, pro gay rights, pro separation of church and state Mormon (aka someone like Harry Reid) were running for the democratic nomination religion would be a non-issue. I think the same would be true for Catholics, athiests, Muslims, Hindus etc who might be running for the democratic nomination.

I don't think the same can be said for a candidate running for the republican nomination. Right now, the religious right is a very powerful wing of the republican party and for many of these people being mainline Christian is a litmus test for candidates. As long as the rest of the republican party continues to cater to this group, that's not going to change. But I also think that members of this group are unlikely to vote for a democrat regardless of religion. If the republicans nominated someone other than a mainline Christian they'd stay home on election day or vote 3rd party before they'd vote democrat.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Perhaps i'm being too generous, but I tend to believe that far fewer people would vote against a candidate they otherwise really liked based solely on their religion (or lack there of) if there we a specific candidate in question than would you see in these polls.

But so often people don't choose which candidate they like more, but which one they dislike least. When you're choosing between two distasteful options, I think that it's a lot easier to disqualify a candidate based on prejudices and stereotypes.
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Mucous
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It's true that there are several different kinds of attributes in there and religious ones might be different from race. But it is worth pointing out that only 5% of the people in the Gallup poll said they wouldn't vote for a black person. However, in real life 27% of people still think that Obama probably wasn't born in the States and 18% think he's a Muslim.

It's possible that in real life people would just transfer from one less socially acceptable prejudice to a more socially acceptable prejudice for cover.

That said, this suggests that the 5% penalty "stereotypical penalty" might be pretty true to the "specific candidate penalty" of 6% (but not including lying).

quote:
A further poll of more than 2000 people by Yahoo! suggested racial prejudice could strip six percentage points from Senator Obama's lead, which would tip the election to Senator McCain, on current polling.
http://www.smh.com.au/news/us-election/us-presidential-election-could-come-down-to-race/2008/09/27/1222217588621.html
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