As in the past, most Americans continue to say that it is important for a president to have strong religious beliefs. And voters who see presidential candidates as religious express more favorable views toward those candidates than do voters who view them as not religious. But the latest Pew survey finds that candidates for the White House need not be seen as very religious to be broadly acceptable to the voting public.
An alarming 61% of American voters said "they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who does not believe in God, while 45% say they would be reluctant to vote for a Muslim."
Presumably, many of these anti-atheist and anti-Muslim voters are aware of 9/11 and do support the "war on terror". In view of these obvious reasons for bias against Muslims, it seems extraordinary that even more voters should be anti-atheist. I was not aware of any mass murders perpetrated by atheists. Perhaps I have missed something! (Hitler and Stalin do not count as mass-murdering atheists because, no matter what their relgious convictions, they were motivated by megalomania and paranoia rather than by anti-religious purposes.)
Clearly, American voters entertain inaccurate stereotyping. Education, as always, was associated with less prejudiced perceptions.
This report is discussed in a post on the Framing Science blog.