What do Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? They all profess to be religious. As a new study proves, parties thoughts the worst of non-believers. What does this mean for US voters?
The notion that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is considering a run for president in 2020 seemed fanciful until the final days of last year, where reference is posted a letter( on Facebook, naturally) that speak: Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from Priscilla, Max, Beast and me, referring to his wife, his daughter and his puppy. A generic joyous letter from a CEO, you might envisage. But then a commenter reminded Zuckerberg that he had long identified as an atheist. What had changed? The rebuttal was swift: I was invoked Jewish and then I went through a point where I questioned things, but now I feel religion is significant.
This statement, more even than his proposed cruise around all 50 states or his much-hailed visits to key, first-in-the-nation nations such as Iowa, suggested that the tech wizard was eyeing the White House. For Zuckerberg was tacitly declaring one of the golden rules of US politics: Americans wont vote for an atheist for president.
That maxim has been reinforced by a new study, which shows that people across the world are prepared to think the most difficult of atheists, believing that those without faith are more capable of immoral practice than those who have it.
The man behind the results of the study, Will Gervais of the University of Kentucky, told the Times he had been induced to study the topic by data that suggested US voters are less willing to elect an atheist than any other category of nominee, including gay or Muslim. Gervais said he suspects that voters consider creed in God essential for moral and regard atheists moral wildcards who shortfall self-restraint and are capable of anything, including kicking puppies, cheating at cards, light-footed cannibalism.
US political spies have all along been worked on this assumption. Witness the leaked Democratic party documents that demo friends of Hillary Clinton in 2016 considering a plan to coat Bernie Sanders as an atheist, imagining it could overhead him decisive percentage points in God-fearing commonwealths such as Kentucky and West Virginia. Sanders, who is able Jewish, rushed to assert that he was no atheist.
This has meant that no openly non-believing candidate has won the presidential nomination of either major party. Even illustrations whose personal decency has been famously doubt have hastened to say their attraction for God. The most appalling example is surely the present incumbent of the White House. Despite leading a life dedicated to the worship of mammon, Donald Trump was embraced by white evangelical voters, who abode his declarations of commitment and realise him as preferable to church-going Clinton. It suggests that, while Americans expect their legislators to declare faith in God, they scarcely demand consistency.
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