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If You Could Only Vote for a Conservative Atheist or a Liberal Christian, Who Would You Choose?


Jack who blogs at Atheist Revolution, recently asked the following question:

If I had to vote for one of two hypothetical candidates, would I be more likely to vote for a liberal Christian or a conservative atheist?

Jack answered:

The liberal Christian would almost certainly be a better fit with my stance on most political issues than the conservative atheist. That would be a compelling reason to select them. But of course, the conservative atheist would not be a victim of the sort of superstition afflicting the liberal Christian. That would be appealing, especially considering how rare this is. So who would I choose if I had to pick one?

My answer to this question reveals something about my priorities. Were I to say that I’d pick the conservative atheist, it might mean that atheism was more important to me than most political issues. And picking the liberal Christian might mean that atheism was a lesser priority for me than these political issues. I suppose there could be other explanations for these decisions that wouldn’t necessarily support either of these interpretations.

So which candidate would I pick? I’d pick the liberal Christian. It might not be an easy decision, especially if this was someone who seemed to be actively promoting Christianity during the campaign. But I think I’d be much more likely to pick the liberal Christian because I’d be a lot more interested in how the person would govern than what they believed about gods.

I’m with Jack on this one. As a liberal/progressive/socialist/pacifist, I am always going to vote for the liberal or progressive candidate. Currently, I am a registered Democrat, having voted for Democratic candidates since 2000. From 1976 to 2000 I always voted Republican, except in 1976 when I voted for born-again Democrat Jimmy Carter.

These days, I am what I call a disaffected Democrat. It remains to be seen how I will vote in 2022 and 2024 — if I am still alive, that is. If I am dead, I will leave it to Polly to cast my vote. 🙂 I am somewhat of a reactionary voter. I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020 for one simple reason: they weren’t Donald Trump. Neither were my first, second, or third choice. I voted both times in the primary election for Bernie Sanders.

I am a dues-paying member of the Democratic Socialists of America. It is with this group my affections lie. That said, I am a pragmatist. Until we overthrow our broken, dysfunctional two-party system, there’s no chance we will elect a socialist. (And no, neither Joe Biden nor Barack Obama is a socialist. If you say they are, you are a fucking idiot who has zero understanding of socialism.)

How would you answer the question posed by Jack? Please leave your answer in the comment section.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    Neil Rickert

    I’m also with Jack on this one.

    In practice, I would look at policy positions, and the ability of both to make wise decisions. But, all else being equal, I would go with the liberal Christian.

    That so many Christians are conservative has long been puzzling. Reading the gospels, it becomes clear that Jesus held views that were progressive for his time. To paraphrase Jesus, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a conservative to be a true follower of Jesus.

  2. Avatar

    With the GOP the way it is, I’d vote for a liberal Christian. I’ve come across some conservative atheists and they promulgate evangelical beliefs, just taking away God. So they may be anti-choice, for instance. Or even against gay marriage if they are conservative.

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    I would, and have, voted for the liberal christian. I don’t like it. For example, the newly proposed justice evidently thinks that the only way that people get into good jobs and positions of power is by her god ““I must begin these very brief remarks by thanking God for delivering me to this point in my professional journey,” she said. “My life has been blessed beyond measure, and I do know that one can only come this far by faith.””

    that’s disappointing.

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    I used to straddle the fence of voting fir conservative fiscal policy while relying on the judicial system to take care of human rights. No more! I no longer believe that conservative fiscal policy is adequate to address systemic issues in the US, and we see that our judiciary is being taken over by social conservatives who want to silence many in our nation. So liberal Christian gets my vote over conservative atheist.

  5. Avatar
    Neil Rickert

    I used to straddle the fence of voting fir conservative fiscal policy …

    I also consider myself a fiscal conservative. But the Democrats do this better than the Republicans. The Republicans repeatedly run up the national debt with tax cuts for the wealthy, while they fail to adequately maintain the national infrastructure. That’s fiscally irresponsible.

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    Barbara L. Jackson

    I would vote for the liberal christian. Jimmy Carter was willing to fall on his sword to stop the Iran hostage crisis. I cannot see a conservative ever doing that. He tried to get the US to have sense about fossil fuel long before most people realized how bad climate change would be. It is better if the US is more energy independent so other countries cannot push around as easily. He worked on Habitat for Humanity for one thing after his presidency.

    For the Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson we need to look at her past as much as possible to see if she pushes her religious views in court casesl

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    Thanks for the mention! It was encouraging to see I’m not the only one, though it sure would be nice to have other options (like liberal atheist candidates).

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    MJ Lisbeth

    During my last days as a Roman Catholic, and most of my time as an Evangelical Christian, my lode-star in politics, economics and social issues was a conservative atheist: Ayn Rand. As an example of her social beliefs, she found homosexuality as abhorrent as it is to any conservative religious person.

    I say that if you’re going to vote for a conservative atheist just because that person is an atheist, then you have no more intellectual integrity than someone who votes for an Evangelical, or any other religious fundamentalist, on that basis–or, for that matter, someone who votes on one issue, like abortion or same-sex marriage.

    By the way: The first I voted, in 1976, I chose Carter mainly because I simply couldn’t forgive Gerald Ford for pardoning Nixon, whom I thought was evil, no matter what else I believed, or didn’t believe. And I chose him four years later because I simply couldn’t bring myself to pull the lever for Reagan, whom I thought was a buffoon. (Compared to Trump, he seems like Churchill, De Gaulle and Golda Meir all rolled up into one.)

    • Avatar

      MJ, I graduated in 1977. So I remember regretting that I couldn’t vote yet in 1976, and I would have voted for Carter. Up until 2008 I voted for both Democratic or GOP candidates for president. To be honest, I wanted Hillary in 2008 and when Obama was nominated, I wasn’t sure about him. McCain picking Palin sealed the deal though, and I voted for Obama. I’m pretty sure I will never vote for a Republican again. As flawed as the Democratic Party is, it is still operating in my universe. The GOP is so far off the rails that I don’t see them coming back from their authoritarian path.

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    The problem with many conservatives nowadays is the fact they will jump on the RW Evangelical wagon no matter what their personal beliefs. A few years ago, I saw on Fox News atheist S.E. Cupp tell the panel that she would want a Christian politician in office because an atheist couldn’t be trusted. Unless the conservative atheist is willing to stand up and not kiss the asses of Evangelicals, I would vote for the liberal Christian. At least they’re being honest about their beliefs.
    Of course, since the GOP became the Trump party, I’ll never consider voting for any conservative for a long, long time.

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    Of course, the word “conservative” to refer to the regressive, white nationalist and authoritarian wing of the GOP has ruined the word as a good description. Especially since most of the GOP is going along.

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    There are negative connotations with the word liberal too BJW, but when most people use the word in polite conversation I don’t automatically reach for the most vile usage I can find to answer them with. Also, branding the majority of the GOP as regressive, white nationalist or authoritarian at worst or “willing to go along” with those things at best is pretty damn insulting. Do you really believe such terrible things about such a large portion of the country?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I gave Republicans a pass in 2016. Then came 2020 and they overwhelmingly voted for Trump again. They knew what kind of man he was and voted for him anyway. Republicans must now own what they have wrought.

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Bruce Gerencser