A Pew Research Center poll released Monday showed Americans would support a philandering, pot smoking presidential candidate than an atheist one- by 18 points.
The Huffington Post reported 35 percent in the poll would be less likely to support a presidential candidate who had an extramarital affair, 53 percent of Americans indicated that a candidate not believing in God would be a deciding factor – the trait viewed most negatively of the 16 categories polled. The poll questioned 1,501 people from April 23-27.
The poll also showed 27 percent of Americans said they’d less likely to vote for a gay or lesbian candidate.
In 2007, Americans who said they are least likely to choose a candidate who was an atheist was 63 percent, according to the Washington Post.
California Rep. Pete Stark of California was the only open atheist in congress, serving from 1973 until he was defeated in 2012.
Former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, who came out as gay in 1987 and retired after his 2012 term ended, said in 2013 that he was an atheist.
Rep. Keith Ellison (MN) and Andre Carson (IN) are the only Muslim members of congress. Ellison took his oath with a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson at his swearing-in ceremony in 2007.
Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard became the first female combat veteran elected to congress in 2012, and is also the only Hindu serving.
Kyrsten Sinema, who was elected in Arizona’s 9th district last year has pushed back the “nonbeliever” label that she had be described. Her staff has said she prefers a “secular approach.” Though Sinema “does not consider herself a member of any faith community,” her communications director has said she “is a student of all cultures in her community.”
The poll found a significant partisan divide on the issue.
While 70 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats expressed opposition to an atheist candidate, 49 percent of Democrats viewed a potential candidate’s atheism as irrelevant.
Frank, Ellison, Carson, Gabbard, and Sinema are all Democrats.
The four elected officials are the only members of congress who are not some affiliation of Christians or Jewish.
Overall, fewer Americans at 22 percent, would oppose a presidential candidate who has admitted to using marijuana.
The poll found 71 percent of Protestants and 48 percent of Catholics would be less likely to vote for an atheist candidate, while 24 percent of the religiously unaffiliated would likely reject an atheist.
The survey followed the 2008 and 2012 polls, candidates with military service again ranked as the most desirable, with 43 percent of voters indicating they would be more likely support a presidential candidate with military experience.
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