(CNSNews.com) - In a nation that based its Declaration of Independence on the principle that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,” a record 58 percent now say they would vote to elect “a generally well-qualified” atheist as president if their political party nominated such a person.
In a poll conducted June 2-7, Gallup asked 771 adults living in the United States this question: “Between now and the 2016 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates--their education, age, religion, race, and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be an atheist, would you vote for that person?”
58 percent said, yes, they would; 40 percent said, no, they would not; and 1 percent had no opinion.
Over the course of the last 57 years, the percentage of Americans who said they would vote to elect an atheist as president has more than tripled. In the first two polls, both conducted in 1958, only 18 percent said they would vote for an atheist. In the first of those 1958 polls, 75 percent said they would not vote for an atheist. In the second, 77 percent said they would not vote for an atheist.
Forty-one years later, in February 1999, the pro-atheist position first narrowly exceeded the anti-atheist position—with 49 percent saying they would vote for an atheist and 48 percent saying they would not.
By the next survey, which was not conducted until February 2007, the pro-atheist position had lost ground—with 53 percent saying they would not vote for an atheist nominee and 45 percent saying they would.
However, only a months later, in a Gallup survey conducted in March 2007, the pro- and anti-atheist positions were tied at 48 percent. In yet another survey conducted in December of 2007, the anti-atheist position pulled back to a narrow lead of 48 percent to 46 percent.
In the next poll, conducted in June 2011, the pro- and anti-atheist position were tied at 49 percent. But since then the pro-atheist position has surged.
In June 2012, in the last poll before the one conducted this month, 54 percent said they would vote for an atheist presidential nominee and 43 percent said they would not.
Now, according to Gallup, the Americans who would vote for an atheist nominee outnumber those who would not 58 percent to 40 percent.
For this latest survey, Gallup gave an age breakdown of how people answered. It showed that Americans in younger age brackets were more likely to say they would vote for an atheist presidential nominee than Americans in older age brackets.
Among Americans 18 to 29 years old, 75 percent said they would vote for an atheist presidential candidate. Among Americans 30 to 49, it was 63 percent; among Americans 50 to 64 it was 50 percent; and among Americans 65 and over it was 48 percent.
The margin of error for this question in this most recent survey, Gallup said, was +/- 4 points.