In the United States, politicians feel the need to take a strong pose of religious belief. In 2008, Barack Obama coordinated his campaign with networks of Christian churches and organized Christian gospel tours. Mike Huckabee declared that he would create a Christian nation as President and autographed Bibles at campaign stops. Atheists were evicted from the Democratic National Convention.
According to polls, a majority of Americans wouldn’t vote for any atheist to become President. It’s not a solely American attitude, though. In Brazil, for example, only 13 percent would vote for an atheist.
Why? Is an atheist an inherently ineffective leader?
Now, the world has a test of that presumption. Julia Gillard, who became Australia’s Prime Minister just a few days ago, is an open atheist. If she is able to be an effective national leader, will that change Americans’ resistance to voting an atheist into the White House?