Recently, an article at Unreasonable Faith addressed the link between atheism and liberalism. As the article says, obviously the correspondence isn’t absolute, but it does seem like a fair number of vocal atheists are also rather progressive in their views, at least as far as the Internet goes. As some people pointed out when I linked to the article on Facebook, there are also a fair number of atheist libertarians, who tend to combine what would generally be termed right-wing and left-wing views, sometimes rather extreme ones. Where I think the liberals and libertarians find some common ground, however, is in opposition to the current marriage of the Republican Party to the Religious Right. (I wonder if that counts as traditional marriage.) As such, at least in this country, it can be difficult to be a conservative and an atheist, as mainstream conservatism has so thoroughly melded with religion.
Part of it, I think, is an authority issue. While liberals aren’t necessarily anti-authority, I believe we do tend to think authority figures should have to EARN our respect. The conservative view, as I see it, is more that people in power deserve to be in power and we shouldn’t question that. This is taken to extremes by The Family, an organization that supported some ruthless dictators just because they were in power; but I see it in less radical conservative circles as well. Hey, God Himself is supposed to be the ultimate king, and worshipped simply because He’s God, despite the fact that He doesn’t always live up to His own rules. And on an earthly level, we have parents and religious leaders holding up the religious conservative paradigm. When an authority figure doesn’t fall into line with this, like a teacher who dares to mention evolution, the conservative answer is to try to shut them up. Along with this comes a hatred of nuance.
One thing I don’t really get is that the modern Republican Party, in addition to being religious, is also quite selfish. They’ve adopted the ideals of Ayn Rand, presumably without realizing she was an atheist as well. And while the Abrahamic religions are all very much pro-authority, they’re also anti-selfishness and pro-charity. I’m not sure this is something that will ever be addressed to my satisfaction. If you love Jesus so much, why not listen to what he actually said?