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This is merely a thought experiment, though it is almost undoubtedly the case anyway, but what if he was outed as an atheist or openly admitted it? There is no way he is genuinely religious. He is unbelievably narcissistic and the only god in his life is the one he sees in the mirror; the one who lives underneath the cat-fur rug.

The thought experiment has merit, perhaps. I wonder what would happen with the cognitive dissonance that those Republican voters would experience. Maybe it would allow them to reject him, finally, with warrant, giving them good rationalisation as to why we did end up being a completely lost cause.

On the other hand, it could really act as a moment of normalisation for atheism amongst those of the rabid right. They would have to admit, if they were (in their dissonance) to maintain that Trump was the awesomest of the most awesome, that atheists are okay, and that atheism doesn’t turn you into the antichrist (Obama got there first, anyways).

There is evidence to suggest that atheists are the bottom of the pile for candidates US voters would opt for. In 2011, this research by Gervais, Norenzayan and Shariff found the following:

METHODOLOGY: With the help of fellow UBC researcher Ara Norenzayan and University of Oregon’s Azim Shariff, Gervais posed several hypothetical questions and scenarios to 350 American adults and nearly 420 university students in Canada.

RESULTS: Distrust, not disgust, is the motivation behind believers’ antipathy against atheists. In one of the six trials, participants found a description of an untrustworthy person to be more representative of atheists than of Christians, Muslims, gay men, feminists, or Jewish people. Only rapists were distrusted to a similar degree.

CONCLUSION: Lack of trust is the reason why some people of faith are prejudiced against atheists.

IMPLICATION: Political aspirants who don’t believe in God or are members of religious minorities may need to convince voters that they are trustworthy. A 2007 Gallup poll found that only 45 percent of Americans would vote for a qualified atheist president, the lowest figure among several hypothetical minority candidates.

SOURCE: The full study, “Do You Believe in Atheists? Distrust Is Central to Anti-Atheist Prejudice” (PDF), is published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

How do we go about breaking this prejudice down? Would Trump admitting he was an atheist help us?

I don’t like being categorised with rapists…

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...