Wait, You’re an Atheist AND a Conservative?

For many people, the idea of a conservative atheist seems like an oxymoron. One explanation could be that we mostly see popular atheist activists speaking out politically over progressive issues like marriage equality or abortion rights for women. Opponents of these issues, who generally identify as conservative, tend to use religious arguments to back their positions. Plus, conservatism is associated with authoritarianism and dogmatic tradition while atheism certainly is not. In any case, the term “atheist” has been politicized over the years, when in fact, it describes a philosophy that has nothing to do with partisan politics.

It’s certainly true that atheists tend to be more liberal and identify with the Democratic Party more naturally. However, that doesn’t mean that conservatives can’t occupy a place within this movement as well.

This debate surged in the past week after the group American Atheists was disinvited from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). According to The Christian Post, the atheist group said, “We want to bring the message to CPAC that there are millions of conservatives out there who are turned off and alienated by the conservative movement’s close ties to dogmatic religious beliefs.”

While the numbers to back this claim are not staggering, there is some truth to the statement. According to a recent Pew Forum survey, 19 percent of conservatives are unaffiliated with any particular religion, and 14 percent of atheists identify as conservative.

It’s obvious that atheist and freethinking groups are making efforts to reach out to those not typically affiliated with the movement, but conservatives are apparently not willing to do the same which was made abundantly clear by the actions of CPAC.

All hope is not lost, however. One day, conservatives will be more open to accepting individuals with diverse religious beliefs. In the past few years we have seen more and more popular conservative commentators and political pundits coming out about their lack of belief in a personal god or in tenets of organized religions.

In an interview with The Daily Caller, conservative commentator and Fox News political analyst Charles Krauthammer talked about his religious beliefs: “There was once a philosopher who said, ‘I don’t believe in God, but I fear him greatly.’ That’s about where I am,” Krauthammer told the outlet. “I’ve had a fairly difficult and complicated notion of the deity.”

In a recent essay written for National Affairs titled “Religion and the American Republic,” fellow Fox News political analyst and longtime conservative pundit George Will wrote, “I approach the question of religion and American life from the vantage point of an expanding minority. I am a member of a cohort that the Pew public-opinion surveys call the ‘nones.’ Today, when Americans are asked their religious affiliation, 20 percent—a large and growing portion—say ‘none.’”

Will actually went on to defend nonbelievers, arguing that “an individual’s faith is not a requisite for good citizenship; that democratic flourishing does not require a religious citizenry; that natural rights do not require grounding in God.”

The sentiments of Will and Krauthammer are shared by other conservative writers, bloggers, and pundits such as S.E. Cupp, Anthony Daniels, Heather MacDonald, James Taranto, Charles C.W. Cooke, and, of course, the late Christopher Hitchens.

The principles of limited government, individual responsibility, and an open marketplace are not grounded in religious beliefs, and they are not anathema to atheism. From a humanist perspective, discussions of identity, ideology, or belief must be prefaced by mutual respect. Liberals have to do a better job to not view those who are religious with disdain and animosity, and conservatives must do a better job to not demonize those who don’t share their religious beliefs. In the end, a secular government is the only way to ensure that these values are respected and that the rights of all Americans are protected.

  • Josh Strawn

    Hitchens wasn’t a conservative. Yes, in his later years he found that The Weekly Standard was more interested in his arguments against Islamist theocracy than The Nation, but that was less about his principles and more about the political and media culture.

    • Douglas Presler

      I can’t resist saying this: amen to that, brother.

    • hkdharmon

      Yeah, Hitchens self-identified as a socialist in his memoirs. He even said he was conflicted over being somewhat wealthy near the end of his life because of the success of his books.

    • Michael

      You’re right, he wasn’t a conservative. He also wasn’t a liberal, in the modern American sense. He also wasn’t a Trotskyist anymore either. The great thing about Hitchens, and what more people should strive for, is that he was unclassifiable. You couldn’t place him and his thoughts and ideas within the neat little boxes that society has created for us. I only wish more people would free themselves of these boxes and labels.

    • Tony L. Castleberry

      You are out of your freaking mind to assert such nonsense. Hitchens proudly declared himself a Conservative, over and over and over again. He constantly debated people he thought of as Liberals (i.e. Al Sharpton), even advocating for George W. Bush over and over again. He was always Conservative and never really wavered from such. That does not mean that he did not occasionally acknowledge when the correct position was found more on the Left (I myself am often accused of being a Conservative because I advocate for a few views that are found on the Right.).

      • Liam Fielding

        Debating liberals and advocating for a conservative does not prove you are one. You’re in error, sir.

        • Tony L. Castleberry

          True but when you SAY out loud “I am a Conservative.” (as Hitchens repeatedly did. So many times we lost count!) and you are selected to represent the ‘Conservative’ side in debates on CNN/MSNBC/etc., even defending George fucking BUSH (aka ‘Dubya’) and asking aloud “What better reason to go to war than for oil?” and you consistently attack feminism and a host of other ‘Liberal’ ideas, yes…you ARE a Conservative. The fact that he did not agree with some of the more outlandish things being said by some Conservatives (a rare few things) does not make you ‘not-a-Conservative’.

          • wargames83

            Please link to where Christopher ever called himself a conservative, Are you sure you are not thinking of his brother Peter?

      • Tom

        ‘No,’ he states, ‘I’m not any kind of conservative.’ – Christopher Hitchens, 2005

        You are not educated enough on Hitchen’s background to discuss the topic

  • Felipe Cabello

    Did you just refer to Hitchens as a “conservative writer”?
    What a lack of understanding that is.
    And such certainty in the phrasing, too, as though it couldn’t be more obvious that this was the case…

  • Scot-t

    The problem is that there is no conservative party in the U.S. today. Those that self-identify as conservatives SAY that they want limited government, but their actions repeatedly repudiate this. They want limited government when it comes to banking and industrial regulations, but they want more government when it comes to telling people what they can and can’t eat, smoke and drink, who they can and can’t marry, what women can and can’t do with their bodies. Look at recent proposed ‘conservative’ legislation–nearly all of it is to tell others how to live their lives, to legislate morality. George Will is an island of sanity in an ocean of crazy.

    • oldsoccerfan

      I figured the “conservative” party was the libertarians, whilst the religious nut party was the gop/tea hybrid. YMMV.

      • Dsloan Johnson

        So true. I myself am an atheist conservative libertarian. The GOP is slowly fading away.

      • Tony L. Castleberry

        Except that there are MANY Liberal Libertarians (they are often called “Bleeding Heart Libertarians”). In fact most Libertarians were rather Left-Leaning up until about the 199os or so it seems.

    • David McDivitt

      I think conservative leaders take advantage of their base just as liberal leaders do. There is a conservative party. Members of that party allow themselves to be lied to without consequence. I would also like to point out the Republican Party did not have religion until the Democratic Party began flushing out white bigots in the South left over from the Civil War in the 60s, and they came to the Republican Party. There still remain many white Southern Democrats.

    • JJ13

      i think you’re gettin conservative confused with liberal democrat.

      i’ll give you the abortion and gay marriage arguments but have you really forgotten those shitty school lunches that michelle is still pushing?? or the current democrat wanting to start taxing sugar?? and how about making smoking in restaurants and bars illegal in VA?? dude was a democrat. not gonna do a lot of research on the other states but it would not surprise me if a democrat was behind every one of em.

      democrats/liberals are the ones doing everything they can to control peoples lives dude. that also includes welfare. where conservatives want to get people out and supporting themselves, democrats and liberals keep giving everything they can away so people will keep going back to them for more.

      • Tony L. Castleberry

        You are confusing Democrats with Liberals. it is a common error but an error nonetheless. There are very few Liberals in the Democratic party (they may even be outnumbered by Conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats). Bernie Sanders is no Democrat but he is running as one as a strategic ploy.

        Funny reading you rant about your right to feed your kids crappy food that will kill them. I used to be the same way up until I was 23 and I got type 1 diabetes. Now I think it would be a great idea to tax the **** out of sugar.

        I used to also be a smoker and did not get what all the bitching from non-smokers was about. Then I quit smoking and ever since I am painfully aware of just how wrong this habit is and I hope we continue on our current path to an overwhelming majority of non-smokers.

        I used to be a Conservative also. Then I started reading and thinking…

    • As you say, there are no conservative parties at all in the U.S. The GOP isn’t conservative, no matter what they claim. They do not follow the traditional conservative positions, they most certainly are not fiscally conservative, they spend money like it’s going out of style, just like the liberals. They absolutely do not want small government, the federal government has grown as much, if not more under Republican control as under Democrat. They don’t believe in personal responsibility and they absolutely do not want to keep the government out of your life. Take away those four things and you’re no longer talking about conservatism, no matter what they want to claim. We have two liberal parties in this country and none that even pretend to be conservative.

      • MariePearle

        This is why I vote Libertarian.

        • Most Libertarians aren’t conservative either, they have their own set of problems.

          • aoses

            you do know that conservatism is exactly that? Big Government in Issues like Smoking, Drugs, Marriage, Abortion, Euthanase pretty much social values but not on things like Healthcare, School funds. And small government in things like economy, free trade,and so on. That is exactly what a conservative party is, just saying….

            In the other hand… A libertarian is someone who wants Small Government in both of those things, they want total freedom in social and economic issues

            And a liberal is someone who wants big government in both of the things, Social Issues and Economy.

          • aoses

            you do know that conservatism is exactly that? Big Government in Issues like Smoking, Drugs, Marriage, Abortion, Euthanase pretty much social values but not on things like Healthcare, School funds. And small government in things like economy, free trade,and so on. That is exactly what a conservative party is, just saying….

            In the other hand… A libertarian is someone who wants Small Government in both of those things, they want total freedom in social and economic issues

            And a liberal is someone who wants big government in both of the things, Social Issues and Economy.

          • wargames83

            “And a liberal is someone who wants big government in both of the things, Social Issues and Economy.”
            No, that is an authoritarian, not a liberal.

          • aoses

            Talking about what liberal means in the States… In every other country a liberal would be small government in both of the things.

          • Geoffrey Klos

            Same thing. Authoritarian is to liberal as wet is to water.

          • Jamie Flower

            No it is not. Do you even know what the word “liberal” means?

      • wargames83

        The GOP and the Democrats aren’t liberal parties either.

  • Luis Uribe

    I wouldn’t call Hitchens a ‘conservative’ in the usual sense; one that has the characteristics described by Jost/Glasser, Dean or Mooney. That is to say someone motivated in their beliefs and political leaning by authoritarianism; intolerance of ambiguity; extreme need for closure, regulatory focus and terror management; and rationalization of social dominance. His political stand on the Iraq/Afghanistan issue was quite different than his notion on social tolerance, economics and political administration. I think his outspokenness and confrontational manner were often mistaken for conservative leanings.

    • Brad

      Except Hitchens attacked liberals on many occasions. Hitchens could not stand hypocrisy, and one thing liberals excel at is hypocrisy.

      • Thomas Sherman

        Hitchens self identified as a socialist. Socialists and Liberals have not, historically speaking, been on good terms except for the idea that monarchies are bad (and even then not so much; enlightened despots were, essentially, liberal monarchs).

      • NEIL C. REINHARDT

        YEP, DAT DY DO!

  • Paul

    I am an atheist and a conservative.

  • Byron C Mayes

    Fact is religion — belief in an all-powerful entity which is ultimately responsible for your life and to which you must regularly give a portion of your hard-earned income — should be anathema to those who hold true “conservative” values. If I, the individual, am responsible for my life, then it makes no sense to give credit to a god for my good fortune or to blame the devil when things to badly.

    And if I have a problem giving X% of my income to the government (which uses it to provide services and maintain things like roads and the power grid), why would I willingly give 10% to some god who, according to teaching, will only use it “in mysterious ways?”

    Individual responsibility is a core “conservative” value. Religion runs contrary to that value.

    • JenFizz

      Individualism is not a core conservative value. Conservatives have traditionally been fans of monarchy, class hierarchy, religion, and community. Just because libertarians have started voting republican in the last few elections doesn’t mean their values are conservative. See Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk, and William F. Buckley–the holy trinity of modern conservativism.

      • Byron C Mayes

        Are you sure you replied to the right message? You didn’t address anything I said.

    • Jason Stansell

      Byron, you could take your first stmt there, about the things you must do for a all powerful entity, and replace it with the FED, and it would accurately reflect the actual lives we lead today.

    • Liliana Rogala

      Thank you for your insightful comment. It’s just too bad that more people do not understand something that is to me, just perfect common sense.

  • Alice75

    An article about atheists and conservatism – and Libertarian is never mentioned. Sigh.

    • David

      Yep but libertarianism is the best of both worlds. Take a right at money and a left at sex and you’re pretty much there. I’m hoping we can take over the Republican party the way the progressives threw out the blue dog dems. Go Rand!

      • Lestatdelc

        Except that progressive economic policies are demonstratively better and more effective than lassie-faire economics.

        • Gavin Michelli

          Good call. The Soviet Union was a great place to live.

          • Lestatdelc

            WTF does the defunct Soviet Union have to with anything I said?

            Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson were all presidents. As was FDR, Truman. Hell even Eisenhower and the GOP can be considered progressive by today’s insane rightward drift of the GOP since the early 90s (you can even argue since Reagan).

            Educate yourself.

          • Gavin Michelli

            Damn, I had to read your comment three different times to understand your broken, fragmented ramblings. Apparently, you’re the one who needs to educate yourself…and you should start with a grammar textbook.

            The Soviet Union was a communist regime, and communism is a progressive economic policy. It’s the exact opposite of laissez-faire (note the spelling there…again, maybe you’re the one who should educate yourself) capitalism. The fact that it is defunct directly calls into question your comment, that it’s policies are better than true capitalism (which, in actuality, has never been practiced in the US or anywhere else…crony capitalism and laissez-faire are not the same thing).

            Yes, all of the people you mentioned were, in fact, presidents. I’m not sure what point you were trying to make with that (although it should be pointed out that Teddy Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt are the same guy…yet again, maybe you should be the one to educate yourself).

            It’s amusing that you just glanced over FDR, since he was probably the most left-leaning president of modern history and implemented scores of the “progressive economic policies” that you mentioned earlier. On the other hand, since those policies were a series of disastrous and farcical mistakes and blatant power grabs that we suffer under to this very day, maybe you glossed over him on purpose ;P

            All that being said…props on your username. I’m a big fan of The Vampire Lestat and the rest of the series, although I kind of lost interest after Armand.

          • Lestatdelc

            Oh good grief. Another insipid post form someone who somehow thinks thinks Communism = Progressive economic policy. Abject failure on your part.

            “It’s amusing that you just glanced over FDR”

            I didn’t. I mentioned FDR. Maybe you should read my comment for the fourth time.

            And thanks for at least recognizing at least what my screen name is derived form. And as to losing interest in Ms. Rice’s works past The Vampire Armand, if nothing else we at least share that view.

          • Seedee Vee

            Crying to mommy again?

      • Jason Stansell

        If all libertarianism embraces randian thought, count me out. Randian thought, as I can best interpret it in practice today, actually discounts the work of common people doing common jobs in an effort to artificially elevate a very few who are anointed as “wealth producers”. That would be grade A bunk. Anyone who works a job worth paying for is a wealth producer in my book, and I parted with republicans way back over this idea. If libertarianism is just the yes to sex republican party, it will fail too.

        See the wealth gap in america today for the effect of “wealth creator” identification over the past 30+ years.

        • Richard Sutton

          Anyone gainfully employed or in business is a producer of wealth under Libertarian thinking. This can be, in practice, offset by subscription to the many taxpayer funded social programs.

          • Jason Stansell

            And I can believe that Richard. I read Rand. I honestly don’t think she wrote with so much exclusiveness, as in, on a very few deserve the the entire wealth of a collective (company) of people working to produce. At the same time, I realize “risk” must be rewarded to propagate additional risk taking (business creation), but the balance is grotesquely slanted now as I see it. And the modern interpretation of Rand is in favor of this as best I can glean from other forums on the topic.

            Its ironic to me though, that many times established business owners risk little, and are financed by the equity of others or bank borrowing, which we all know now it collateralized by the business (the collective) itself, and the ability of a modern bank to lend is limitless. Moral hazard bailout, fractional reserve lending, rehypothicated collateral chains and all. No, risk does not exist if money is created as loanable legal consideration without limit and with guaranteed bailouts under a “modern” banking system. Or how bout if a business has already recovered its startup equity via it retained earnings? Is there still money are risk?

            Yet risk, in all these cases, is what is used as the Randian fulcrum to pay a very few exceeding well from the sum total off all its wealth creators produce. This is why we have an unbalanced society in terms of wealth distribution, IMO. Thanks for your comments.

        • Deanjay1961

          Of course all libertarianism doesn’t embrace randian thought. Libertarians are diverse. Socially tolerant and fiscally responsible probably describes most ‘small l’ libertarians, despite the ideological purity of the Rothbardian crowd.

        • Gavin Michelli

          I’m pretty sure he’s talking about Rand Paul, not Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand was an Objectivist, while Rand Paul is sort of half Libertarian, half Republican. LIbertarian and Objectivist ideas overlap, but they also disagree on crucial points. I would disagree with you about Ayn Rand’s views on common workers as well, but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

      • Ryan Lowe

        Fiscal conservatism is an abject failure.

        • Deanjay1961

          Um, congressional spending at a rate that would shame drunken sailors (as during the Bush II presidency) is not fiscal conservatism. Borrowing and spending instead of taxing and spending is not fiscal conservatism. It’s possible that the GOP has ruined the term, which, if it does not mean not spending more than you take in except in emergency and then replenishing your reserves, doesn’t mean anything at all.

          • We really haven’t had any fiscal responsibility in this country since before Reagan came along, one of the core tenets of fiscal responsibility is not spending more than you have. You cannot be fiscally responsible if you’re borrowing billions from China.

        • Brad

          Prove it.

        • NEIL C. REINHARDT

          DUE TO THE DUM-O-CRATS!

        • Gavin Michelli

          You’re probably right. Balancing the budget and not spending more than we make sounds like an awful financial policy.

      • wargames83

        You are forgetting about the authoritarian left at sex, which is not libertarian at all. Just look at radical feminism.

    • Denise

      Yes, I consider myself to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative. That aligns me more with Libertarian-ism than anything else.

      • Lestatdelc

        Define “fiscally conservative”.

        • T Rauncher

          Do what you want, but do it WITH YOUR OWN money.

        • Doolollie

          You don’t know??!

        • wargames83

          Balance the budget. Those who don’t want to tax people in order to balance the budget are fiscally libertarian, not fiscally conservative.

      • Jason Stansell

        Me too. But increasingly since 2008 I think the form of money we use has more to do with it than just “fiscal conservativism”. That term speaks to system wide programs for which taxes are levied and against who.

        Im becoming more disturbed by infinite debt money, all floating against the “value” of other infinite debt currencies. Come on, that is some unrealistic garbage isnt it? I mean if we base liberalism and modern education off the ideas that god cannot be proved scientifically and thus is not real, it seems not too hard of a jump to say a monetary system based off a FED balance sheet whose liabilities (federal reserve notes) are in practice infinite isnt real either. Nor is the debt, since no human worked to create what was “loaned” (fed money). Yet we all must work to pay it back?

        Only labor is the asset in the equation. Yours and mine, and its being bought with interest privledges for no human labor at all. I find it highly appauling and directly opposite any ideas of liberal freedom.

      • Ryan Lowe

        Fiscal conservatism has failed miserably. Perhaps you should do a little more thinking.

        • Fiscal conservatism has failed miserably.

          -The 1920s and 1990s were so, so horrible, weren’t they?

          • Ryan Lowe

            Haha, look what disasters followed those two decades after the rich were allowed to run rampant over the economy.. Thanks for proving my point

          • 2001 and 1929-30 were not particularly severe recessions, except in the stock market (and in Detroit). Both the 2008 and 1931-33 continuation of the 1929-30 recessions were caused by false confidence in the Federal Reserve. The rich did “run rampant over the economy” in the 1990s and 1920s, but this was not a result of fiscal conservatism, but, rather, technological innovation and the Federal Reserve system not raising the discount rate when it should have.

          • Anna

            When you consider what they resulted in, yes, they were ‘so horrible’.

        • T Rauncher

          Keynesian economic fantasy has nearly destroyed us… multiple times. go back to the drawing board. you are dead wrong here.

      • S. James Schaffer

        Describing libertarians as “socially liberal” is somewhat misleading.
        George Carlin summed it up best when he spoke about
        political correctness, false consciousness arguments, and other forms of
        censorship from the left being ‘completely unexpected’ by his
        generation. Remember that socially liberal includes the social ‘justice’ crowd.

        Also, Fiscal Conservativsm is not supposed to be an absolutist position – far too many libertarians get caught up in the Randroid model that fails to account for modern economic realities. The idea is to practice restraint and foresight, not just say no to everything. The left has had some good economic ideas over the years, and rejecting them out of fear of the putrid corpse of Marxism is just silly.

        • Geoffrey Klos

          “The left has had some good economic ideas over the years…”

          Name one. I’d be curious.

    • S. James Schaffer

      The two great failings of big-L Libertarianism, to my mind, is that 1. The “Free Market” model predates the rise of 20/21st century venture capitalism/globalism and is based in the outdated model of traditional business and growth and 2. The NIOF principle fails to take into account what Transhumanists refer to as “X-Risks” – Plague comes to mind as a prime example.

  • GBJames

    If Christopher Hitchens was alive he’d be rolling around in his grave hearing himself described as a conservative, to say nothing of having his name appear in the same sentence with S.E. Cupp.

    • Larry

      See My Cupps … that’s some crude entrepreneurial name recognition.

    • Jes Sayin

      If he was alive, he wouldn’t be rolling around in his grave, I don’t think.

      • GBJames

        Yes. That’s the point. A bit of humor, derived from a great Randy Newman song.

        • Chris

          ….a great song by Randy at that.

    • Guest

      Nowhere in the article does it refer to Hitch as a conservative.

      • GBJames

        Perhaps you missed the second to last paragraph?

        The sentiments of Will and Krauthammer are shared by other conservative writers, bloggers, and pundits such as S.E. Cupp, Anthony Daniels, Heather MacDonald, James Taranto, Charles C.W. Cooke, and, of course, the late Christopher Hitchens.

    • Tony L. Castleberry

      False. Hitchens was not just a Conservative (as he himself repeatedly declared). He was adamant about being a Conservative. He did not like most Liberals or Liberal ideology.

      You guys are no better than the Christians who declare that Charles Darwin/Abraham Lincoln/ converted to Christianity before they died.

      • GBJames

        Well, Tony, with your strong certitude, I’m sure you will provide some good evidence for Hitch being “a conservative”.

  • pragmatizm

    Why the hell is there a picture of Christopher Hitchens attached to this article and why is he labeled a conservative writer? Let me guess he supported the war in a Iraq? Do you friggin homework on the man. He was a raging liberal on just about every issue except the war.

    • Ryan Lowe

      He would never agree with the liberal label. He thought liberals were, “dangerous capitulators.”

    • NEIL C. REINHARDT

      ALL TRULY INTELLIGENT , LOGICAL AND SUFFICIENTLY INFORMED SUPPORTED THE IRAQ WAR.

  • g75401

    I would caution anyone who confuses the current incarnation of the Republican party with actual conservatism. Conservatives are hierarchical and individualistic. They value the social order over the individual members of that order (except, of course, when they are the individual harmed by the social order). They are motivated by fear over reason. Their decisions tend to be made hastily and with little consideration as to the consequences of that decision. The current Repub party has been captured by business interests who are using religion as a distraction. Can there be conservative atheists? Sure. I would challenge those people who confuse “conservativism” with the idea of fiscal responsibility, “small government”, and “personal responsibility” to show me some examples of those ideas being manifest in any Repub party platform of the past 50 years. I liken it to that phrase “I’m a fiscal conservative and a social liberal”. The definition of “Liberal” v “Conservative” are purely social terms. Fiscal responsibility is something else entirely. The term “liberal” on the other hand means someone who is egalitarian and community oriented. Liberals discount the social order if it harms anyone. Liberals can be paralyzed by analysis (and often are). The initial “social contract” proposed by FDR was meant to save capitalism, not introduce socialism. Anyone familiar with the rise of the Communist party in this country in the 30s knows that. The “Great Society” by LBJ was another move to stabiilze capitalism in this country by introducing the concept of federal wage supports in exchange for weakening of the Labor movement. To call either a “liberal handout” is ludicrous. So, yes, be an atheist “conservative”, as long as you know what message you are sending those of us who know conservatives to be people susceptible to authoritarian thinking.

  • Henry Malter

    Yes. The “principles” of limited govt, individual responsibility, and an open marketplace are in fact “founded” on the identical gigantic steaming pile of BS that they always were. What does “limited Govt” exactly mean again? The reality of the past 100 years proves uncontroversially that a LOT MORE govt might have helped prevent some of the major disasters that occurred and might do something to mitigate those on the horizon. What type of human exactly does not recognize the need for “individual responsibility” – psychotic killers perhaps? – or the “responsible” arch criminals who have turned finance/insurance/credit into an obscene method for enriching themselves while destroying human society? As for the “free” and open marketplace, apparently “Conservatives” missed that this was never more than a bizarre theoretical conceit without the slightest connection to reality or the behavior of actual markets – which are consistently shown to be based mostly on fraud. So “Conservative” atheists can suck my b@lls. Who cares if they are atheists? What an absurd discussion + BTW Hitchens was a major creep from day 1 so get over it.

  • Daniel

    The last paragraph does a good job summing up the idea of “conservative” atheists. However, positioning arguments as simply “conservative” or “liberal” is a huge oversimplification. I, myself, prefer limited government, which, in classical terms, makes me liberal. The term “liberal” means liberty. Both the Right and the Left are tyrannical. They seek to control people in a host of ways. Let’s do away with tyranny and dogma altogether. Read Emma Goldman, Lysander Spooner and Max Stirner for more info.

  • mikecrosby

    I’m atheist and conservative. In fact atheism is more in line with being conservative than being liberal. Liberals tend to be dogmatic, think with their heart strings and crowd followers.

    • Brad

      Ha. You nailed it. I find much more openness to idea with many fundamentalist Christians, aside from of course religious ideas, than with liberals. I can make some headway with an old earth, evolution, with global warming, though I’m still skeptical myself about global warming. But challenge a liberal on their dogmas and you get attacked.

      I like to put it this way. Conservatives(religious ones) think logically from false premises. Liberals think emotionally from accurate premises.

    • Onthepulse

      Unfortunately, I’ve found that many atheists are liberals first and an atheist second.

  • weeeezzll

    To an scientific minded atheist aligning with any party should feel grating and out of place.

    • NEIL C. REINHARDT

      NOT IF THEY ARE RATIONAL LOGICAL AND INTELLIGENT ENOUGH TO WANT THE USA TO CONTINUE BEING A FREE AND PROSPEROUS NATION!! AND THIS MEANS GETTING THE FRACKING DUM-O-CRATS THE HELL OUT OF OFFICE!

      • Nickolaos Fotopoulos

        Any scientifically minded person should align themselves with good ideas, not parties. Both parties tend to look at things through red and blue tinted lenses, and reality is that in some cases conservatives ideas are better, in others, progressive are better, and in some neither of those make any sense and something entirely different is required.

        • NEIL C. REINHARDT

          YOU ARE 100 % CORRECT! I JUST GET SO TIRED OF LIBERAL LIES THIER SUPPORTING A PROLIFIC LYING RACIST I CALL ODUMA!

          AS YOU ARE TOTALLY CORRECT, IS WHY CONSIDER MYSELF A “REALIST” FIRST, I USE ALL CAPS AS I AM NEAR 80 AND I CAN SEE WHAT I WRITE MUCH MORE EASILY.

          SECOND, IF YOU ARE INFORMED RATIONAL LOGICAL AND INTELLIGENT ENOUGH TO BE MORE OF A “CONSERVATIVE” ATHEIST THAN A LIBEAL, METHINKS IF YOU ARE ON FACEBOOK, YOU SHOULD FRIEND AND FOLLOW ME AS I POST A LOT OF BOTH GREAT NON-ATHEIST AND ATHEIST ITEMS

          THANK YOU!

          NEIL

  • Jason Stansell

    “Conservatism is associated with authoritarianism and dogmatic tradition…” as if liberalism isnt associated with these things. People who think liberally on social issued but conservatively in fiscal and monetary matters would disagree. Liberals absolutely rely on authoritary regimes in all things finance to provide the lifeblood to their programs. Why cant you and I just be free to make our own decisions about our personal lives (social liberalism part) and NOT have to pay for the programs I would choose to not participate in if not for authoritarian regimes (the socialist part, opposite of actual freedom?

    Financial authoritarian regimes = FED, IRS, federal gov, state tax agencies, IMF, world bank. It seems like we strive to make this place a better world…but by force. There is no escape.

    • pragmatizm

      Yeah, we tried that already pre 20th century. Research into what it was like for the average person to live, particularly in urban, industrial areas. I can recommend a few books that will enlighten you about the “good ol’ days of lassaiz-faire capitalism:

      How the Other Half Lives – Jacob Riis
      The Age of Reform – Richard Hofstadter
      Souls of Black Folk – WEB Dubois
      The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
      A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn
      There is Power In A Union – Philip Dray

      You should brush up on history before coming here and embarrassing yourself with your abysmal lack of knowledge of it. Ask the people of Europe if they feel oppressed. They statistically outrank the United States in every socio-economic category.

      • Jason Stansell

        Tried what already?

        • pragmatizm

          What…do I fvcking stutter? You know what I am talking about. Don’t make me explain it like you’re a 10 year old. Figure it out.

          • Jason Stansell

            Hey, good news. I took some time to figure it out! I conclude that your a unique member of the humanist movement that subscribes to a “boot stamping on a human face – forever”.

          • S. James Schaffer

            1984 is irrelevant. Long live Catch-22.

  • Angela Long

    Hitchen’s wasn’t a conservative… Just because he got upset over Clinton – doesn’t make him one. It doesn’t erase all his other views. Being pro-life doesn’t make you conservative either … Nor does disavowing Socialism. His views did not meet up with American conservative views… No he was no longer a socialist, so to speak – but he said he was Marxist none the less. I think as with many systems of political thought – it changes with time.

  • Richard Sutton

    I am a Libertarian Humanist and I do not believe that is any sort of contradiction.

  • rg57

    “The principles of limited government, individual responsibility, and an open marketplace are not grounded in religious beliefs”

    I’ll give you limited government, and individual responsibility.

    From what I learned of free-market economics, I came away with the perception that it is based entirely on itself. It’s circular. It works as long, and to the extent, we believe it does. “Invisible hand” indeed. If not religious, it’s just as bad. Religion tells us God won’t harm the world’s Christian population again. Free markets tell us to dig up everything on the planet and use it before the next generation is born to compete for it.

  • Ryan Lowe

    There was never a conservative bone in Mr. Christopher Hitchens’ body.

    • Brad

      “I believe that the concept unborn child is a real concept, yes. And I’ve had a lot of quarrels with my fellow materialists and secularists on this.”
      -Christopher Hitchens

  • Randy Gerber

    CPAC must cater to the conservative christian demographic (voters); allowing atheists in openly would alienate the zealots.

  • Mark Scott

    Thank you for posting this, I have been thinking about this topic quite a bit lately. As a conservative and I will define that as someone who does believe in a limited federal government, individual responsibility, an open marketplace and the US Constitution I realize I have no political home. The political conservative area has been taken over by religious zealots who have made political conservatism and religious conservatism one and the same when they are two different issues. Both of the major political parties here in America are carving up the Constitution and picking and choosing what they want to believe in the Constitution while ignoring some other sections. So the question is thus: is there a political home in our current political environment for an a conservative atheist?

    • Liliana Rogala

      If there isn’t a “a political home in our current political environment for conservative atheists,” there should be. At least there are a few on this forum.

      • dblecutt

        How about a conservative atheist for President in 2016?

  • RedneckCryonicist

    Of course atheism and social conservatism can coexist, especially when it comes to patriarchy, for the following reason:

    We can’t communicate with or observe our tribe’s supernaturals, despite what the people in those foolish “ghost hunting” shows on cable claim.

    But men have had to live with women all along, and the net result from generations of learning and experience in a harsh, competitive world has become encoded into tradition. (Some Catholic writer a century ago referred to tradition as “the democracy of the dead,” namely, that our ancestors left us with perfectly good observations about life that we shouldn’t disregard or dismiss as ignorance or superstition just because they conflict with current ideas with which we have shorter baselines of experience. Nassim Nicholas Taleb has expressed a similar view of tradition recently.)

    If this tradition often called patriarchy tends to put women’s behavior in a bad light, and especially the consequences of women’s sexual freedom and promiscuity – well, you can’t blame that outcome on the gods, now, can you?

    In other words, an atheist committed to evidence and empiricism could quite rationally see the value in socially conservative beliefs and especially patriarchy.

    In practice, however, many “atheists,” so called, don’t really believe in freedom of thought, and they have defined “atheism” to mean a prior commitment to a liberal social ideology despite what the evidence indicates about its key tenets.

  • Lefty Blitzer

    Conservative politics concern themselves with self-interest, greed, and disregard for others, as well as being anti-intellectual. Humanism, on the other hand, is concerned with the plight of the common man and the health of the planet (being necessary for human to exist), as well as education and knowledge for the masses. To me, the two are mutually exclusive.

    • Brad

      Liberal politics don’t do the same?

      Such mindless groupthink.

  • edddoerr

    Atheists are not necessarily humanists. Indeed, many take positions antithetical to humanism. I have met atheists who favor having government compel all taxpayers to support religious private schools and atheists who line up with religious conservatives in opposing women’s rights of conscience on abortion. — Edd Doerr, past AHA president and currently president of Americans for Religious Liberty

    • Brad

      The “it’s my body I can do what I want” argument does not apply to abortion.

      A pregnant woman is not ONE body, but rather a body hosting another body. While I would not support a total ban on abortions, this fact cannot be denied, thus the typical argument if favor of abortion rights is objectively wrong.

      I’m an atheist and humanist.

      • edddoerr

        It”s odd that someone calling himself a humanist would take the Vatican/fundamentalist/unscientific position that a fetus is a person and would deny women rights of conscience. Humanists have long been i

      • NEIL C. REINHARDT

        NO ONE CAN GIVE ME ONE RATIONAL, LOGICAL AND INTELLIGENCE REASON WHICH IS ALSO NON-EMOTIONAL AND NON-RELIGIOUS REASON WHY ABORTIONS ARE WRONG!

        • All those that support abortion are born already. Have you asked someone who was aborted whether or not they wanted to be aborted? Whether it not u consider the fetus is a life or not. That is a future life. And no, I don’t want them to go to war either. I’m for life. My question is how can you commit familial genocide? I see no difference in killing.

          • NEIL C. REINHARDT

            FIRST, YOU ARE FOR LIFE? REALLY? YOU DO NOT KILL FLIES OR COCKROACHES? WHAT DO YOU EAT? AFTER ALL, EVERYTHING WE EAT WAS ONCE LIVING! (FYI, EVEN DIRT HAS LIVING MICROBES IN IT.)

            SECOND, ASKING STUPID QUESTIONS DOES NOT ANSWER THE QUESTION I HAD ASKED .

            THIRD, YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO ANSWER MY QUESTION AS THERE ARE NO, ZERO, NONE NON-RELIGIOUS AND/OR NON-EMOTIONAL VALID REASONS WHY ABORTIONS ARE WRONG.

          • Georgia Sand

            Raise your argument, not your voice, bro.

  • Rick Heller

    I would distinguish between Liberal and Conservative as ideologies, and simple character traits with regard to attitude toward change. One aspect of being conservative is a respect for Murphy’s Law, and therefore, not trying to change too much too quickly. Unfortunately, the current Republican Party is in transition from a conservative party to a radical right-wing party that is highly ideological.

    • Brad

      And the Democrats made that transition long ago.

      • dblecutt

        Here, Here. The democratic followers are already racist. They re-elected a president porely on his color and not him being right for the office, for which his is not.

  • Guest

    I want to comment of the following statement found in the article:

    “Plus, conservatism is associated with authoritarianism and dogmatic tradition while atheism certainly is not.”

    Does this imply liberalism is not the same way? Do not liberals have group think? Would not most liberals seek to impose their progressive ideals on others? I do not like authoritarianism in any fashion. Though much authoritarianism is justified as being good for mankind, people more often than not simply like to tell others what to do and how to live. Yes there are community aspects to life, but to what extent are those community aspects accentuated? In other words, if people did not have a propensity to tell others what to do, would community aspects of life be as significant as often made out to be? Critical thinking and skepticism are well and good, but when should they be set aside? When does the time come to simply impose ideals and behavior?

  • David McDivitt

    I want to comment on the following statement found in the article:

    “Plus, conservatism is associated with authoritarianism and dogmatic tradition while atheism certainly is not.”

    Does this imply liberalism is not the same way? Do not liberals have
    group think? Would not most liberals seek to impose their progressive
    ideals on others? I do not like authoritarianism in any fashion. Though
    much authoritarianism is justified as being good for mankind, people
    more often than not simply like to tell others what to do and how to
    live. Yes there are community aspects to life, but to what extent are
    those community aspects accentuated? In other words, if people did not
    have a propensity to tell others what to do, would community aspects of
    life be as significant as often made out to be? Critical thinking and
    skepticism are well and good, but when should they be set aside? When
    does the time come to simply impose ideals and behavior?

  • Doubting Thomas

    To me, it seems that an atheist belonging to the Republican Party would be like Bambi being a member of the NRA.

    • Brad

      What an asinine comment.

      Democrats are totalitarian control freaks who want power over every facet of your life. Some of us actually like sound monetary and economic policies. Some of us think welfare isn’t ALWAYS good. Some of us like guns. Some of us think the “it’s my body so I can do what I want with it” argument for abortion is stupid, because it is. As soon as you’re pregnant, it’s no longer just YOUR body. Use a different argument.

      Liberals are the ones who want to ban words. Ban guns. Liberals are the ones who suspend children for making make believe guns.

      Some of us don’t like calling anyone who is skeptical of global warming a denier. Evolution is a fact, but I’m less convinced of global warming because I know I don’t know enough about it. And I know all the liberal pundits know little more than I do, and they’re much less scientifically literate.

      I’m an atheist.

    • Liliana Rogala

      I do not see anything ironic at all about Bambi being a member of the NRA – In fact, he should be! That way he could shoot back at all of the “….” hunters, shooting at him!

    • leninsbarber

      If Bambi had a shotgun, the hunters might think twice before trying to kill his mom.

  • Liliana Rogala

    I don’t believe that democrats serve the economy justly. In other words I don’t believe that the Robin Hood philosophy of taking form the rich to give to the poor, is the answer to all of the economical problems in our country. Therefore, I favor conservative politics. I believe that the democrats are the ones who have tied the religious right to political conservatism. There are many Southerners who are very religious, live in the Bible Belt, and vote as democrats. I am a humanist, and consider myself to be a liberal republican. I do not believe that Republicanism and Atheism are mutually exclusive, and obviously, with Charles Krauthammer, I am in good company.

  • socialdem

    Atheism only implies a disbelief in a god or gods and there certainly have been many conservative atheists. Karl Rove is reportedly an atheist.

    However, a conservative humanist IS an oxymoron.

    • Pinky Pig Farmer Billy

      While you’re just a moron.

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    WHATEVER ELSE HE WAS, HE WAS AN ATHEIST WHO, LIKE ME, WAS INFORMED, LOGICAL AND RATIONAL ENOUGH TO KNOW THE IRAQ WAR WAS JUSTIFIED.

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    IF YOU ARE A “FACEBOOK” PERSON AND A CONSERVATIVE ATHEIST, I SUGGEST YOU SHOULD “FRIEND” AND “FOLLOW” ME.

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    HE IS ILLOGICAL!

  • Liberty in Indy

    As a libertarian atheist living in Indianapolis, I have personally experienced far more prejudice from progressive atheists than I ever have from conservative Christians. This may be because local conservative Christians feel like a minority in local political circles and are more willing to make alliances, while progressive atheists are in the clear majority in local atheist circles and are less likely to be tolerant to differing opinions, and they quite openly ostracize me. That said, it’s still not right to treat anyone that way, and now I refuse to attend local atheist meetups. So, maybe the writer of this article is way off when it comes to wanting to find non-progressive atheists, because they didn’t even want me when I sought them out so I wouldn’t feel so alone.

  • dblecutt

    I consider my self a conservative atheist, whoever, more of and individual thinker, Like trying to find two Baptist, or two Catholics take agree 100 % on their ideology, I do not agree 100% with atheism. I consider myself religious. Meaning I practice and hold true to my ideas. and like any other religions follower’s I slip and could be called a hypocrite. Such is perfection! I strongly think capital punishment for my crimes against the people. Abortion is not a form of birth control and should only be used in extreme medical conditions. As and atheist life is a treasure. think of the odds of you becoming you. Life is valuable and should not be discarded casually. Though I feel strong against abortion as it is commonly performed, no law should ever be made to prohibit it. With life so cherished and such a treasure, the defiance to propagate the species by homosexuals is, for a lack of a better word, sin like spitting in the eye of life itself. Government should say out of our private lives. I never say ‘I do not believe in God.’ for there isn’t one to believe or disbelieve in. I dislike socialism and dictatorships, which seems to be at the heart of many liberal followers and their political ideals, such as the one in our presidential position now. I vote republican for the most part, but cringe as I do with concern that they would take away my freedom of (from) religion, in other words dictate what religion I must follow. And as far as Ms. Cupp. from what I have seen, in my free thinking opinion, gives atheist a bad images because she is too ‘wishie washie’.

    • dblecutt

      corrections… I strongly believe in capital punishment for certain crimes. Forgot to mention, Guns! Yap, I have several and will use them if a situation arises to use them in defense or protection. The right to bare arms is as important as the right to life and the pursuit of happiness.

  • A.Alexander

    Religious people often has their world outlook a kind od the ideology,created by the curch and the clericals.Atheist of the Western coutries is usually the revolutioner among the believers.His atheism is single act of the denial and he usually has not the whole world outlook.This turns young atheists the leftist fighters with the Christian society,makes them the extremists. The balaced atheistic views must be explained.

  • Sophia

    I’m an unbeliever and a conservative. Which, indeed, usually gets a raised eyebrow or a “my brain can’t compute such a position” facial expression. Which usually means I get charged as “secretly religious” or “a secret liberal”. Which more than anything is highly revealing of other peoples’ bias.

  • Jackie

    Hitch went from being very liberal earlier in his career, to a soft libertarian later in his career. Just few people noticed because his primary concern was giving religion the lambasting it deserves.

  • A.Alexander

    1. Atheism “progressive” have been the official religion of the 1 billion of communist subjects of Eurasia and have brought no frutful ideas.So the atheism conservative can pretend for the atheistic championship. Conservatism has many disadvantages, but it liberate the people from the intellectual and material slavery, that the progressivism,read socialism, brinks to the humanity.To be the real freethinking atheist, means to be the conservative(or libertarian) atheist. And no atheist revolutions,Enough of revolutions.

  • Jp

    I am conservative about what social programs I choose to support. I do believe in early term or an abortion for a mother’s health. I am an independent voter, but I only occasionally vote for a democrat. I’m finding it difficult to fit into the Ethical Humanist Society where I find progressives, liberals, communists, socialists. So far I haven’t decided to join the ethical humanist society because I don’t believe in the basic political beliefs I’m see represented.

  • Tracie Holladay

    RE: Hitch being conservative
    Perhaps it’s not so much that he was conservative or liberal but that he had some views in common with conservatives, and some in common with liberals. He was just Hitch.

  • Michael

    Interesting that you use a picture of Hitchens at the top, as if he fits within the box of ‘conservative’. How about you stop trying to label people who are so obviously against those labels. You could call me conservative as a result of some of my positions, and then if you never heard me speak of them, you would call me liberal. Break out from the labels and boxes people, and just as Hitchens, follow the truth wherever it may lead.

    “Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.” -Christopher Hitchens

  • Michael

    “conservatism is associated with authoritarianism and dogmatic tradition”

    That is simply not true, especially in the American tradition. Conservatives in America come from the line and influence of classical liberalism – which is fundamentally against any type of authoritarianism. Before the Reagan era we likely would have seen atheism split between the two parties in America.

    Just because the “moral majority” and the “evangelical right” emerged during the Reagan era does not mean that is what conservatism is.

    American Conservatism is synonymous with limited government and protecting the rights of the individual – even to this day – when there is no evangelical influence. So attributing conservatism with “authoritarianism and dogmatic tradition” is simply wrong. Do we want to preserve traditions like the Bill of Rights? Of course. And, unlike progressives, we certainly do not see expansion of government, bureaucracy, and central power as a solution to the countries problems. To be honest, in America, it is actually the liberals and progressives that are synonymous with authoritarianism. You have to do some serious mental gymnastics to call the movement seeking less government and less government power as authoritarian. Which is why, along with the liberals/progressive misguided multiculturalism and apologetics for Islam, is why I left the American liberal/progressive movement.

  • Robert Jones

    I am a social conservative atheist. Unlike many however, I do not associate “social” with “sexual”. Social does not mean “sexual”. It is only defined that way because many people — a collective — came together with the common interest. Social to me, means exactly that: “social”; societal progression.

    But societal progression does not have to include progressivism, or the ideologies associated with progressivism in the left dynamic of the political spectrum. If you take a look at the definition of “progress”, you’ll be able to deduce that the political stipulations in which the progressive movement supports, goes against the very foundation of a democratic Republic, in that there can be no progress, no societal benefit, as the economic system in this nation does not reflect an authoritarian state.

    Just because Republicans claim the nation is founded on Christianity, does not mean that it is/ was. That too, is a confirmatory bias brought about by collective herd mentality. The left differs no more than it’s opposition on the right.

    So what does this mean? Could it mean that a philosophy of conservative-progressivism is born? Sure? Why not? People like to categorize other people, objectify people and conclude various irrational results because it’s convenient and easy. We are social creatures as humans… And we tend to be very hypocratic. Moreover, with respect to the topic on herd mentality, the larger a group, the more range it’s allowed to operate. The more libel and derogatory statements are allowed to emanate from it’s core. The larger the group, the more tendency for a trend to favor more hypocrisy.

    Many people don’t even know they’re objectifying or exploiting others. They are not aware of the cultural differences or even the level of awareness another may be experiencing, because they have the psychological tendency to believe that because they think a certain way, another must also HAVE to think that way. It’s a simple fallacy of life we all as humans forget so often. Rather than categorizing or attempting to patternize people’s actions, we need to take note of the subtleties and nuances that welcome eradications in social development… And this will ultimately decide upon the fate of a given civilization.

  • Geoffrey Klos

    I consider myself a conservative atheist. I would consider myself way more socially liberal (gay marriage, legalize drugs, abortion, etc.) and very fiscally conservative. As progressives continue to lose their minds though with all the BLM and “safe spaces” and “trigger words” they are losing me even more. Liberal ignorance of basic economics is a big turn off.

    In the end, it will be economics that destroys this country. Not abortion. Not immigration. Not prayer in schools.

    As an atheist, I require evidence in order to support any position. There is zero evidence that it’s a great idea to continue racking up trillions of dollars of debt. While abortion should be legal, I should not be forced to pay for someone else’s abortion. Keep me out of it and leave me alone with it. If someone wants an abortion, they should have the freedom to choose. Likewise, I should have the freedom to not pay for it. Healthcare is not a right. Nobody has the “right” to someone else’s efforts. The minimum wage hurts minorities more than it helps. Open borders with limitless immigration doesn’t make any sense. Legal, but limited immigration is a benefit to this country. Temporarily restricting the immigration of muslim men from the Mideast seems like a prudent choice at his time. For now. The top job priority for the Federal Government is to provide for the defense of the country. Not offer free shit to everyone and their brother. I’m pro private unions and anti public service unions.

    Bernie Sanders is a economic lunatic. Hillary Clinton is a criminal. Ted Cruz is a god freak. Donald Trump is insane. The Libertarian has no chance to win. Now what?

  • Invisiblesilence

    Narrow Thinker

  • Invisiblesilence

    What, you are an atheist and you believe in free thought??

  • Doritos and Mountain Dew

    I’m an atheist conservative lol

  • Scooter

    So it’s not weird to be one? 🙂 Sweet!!

  • jingo 69

    Religion and politics are two different things, and when they get mixed together you get problems!
    I’m a Pragamtic Consevative and life long Atheist.