Study: We trust in those who believe in God

January 5, 2016
Scott Clifford is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Houston. Credit: Scott Clifford/UH

It's political season and there's one thing you're sure to hear a lot about from candidates vying for support—religion. Talking directly or subtly about religion has become part of the American way in political campaigns.

A new study suggests including in campaign speeches feeds a that those who are religious to some are trustworthy and viewed more favorably. The study was conducted by Scott Clifford of the University of Houston Department of Political Science and Ben Gaskins of Lewis & Clark College.

"Their religious identification reflects a powerful, widespread, but often subtle and unconscious bias in American society against those who do not believe in God," Clifford said. The researchers note that there has been only one openly atheist congressman (Pete Stark, D-California), who lost in 2012.

Their findings were published in the journal American Politics Research.

Clifford and Gaskins say their study shows the challenges for non-religious vying for public office.

Using national survey polling data, the researchers assessed the willingness of voters to support an atheist candidate, the favorability of candidate Hillary Clinton depending on whether she is viewed as religious, and the view that a religious candidate is trustworthy.

"Our findings suggest that not demonstrating religiousness is a significant roadblock for winning public office in the United States, and being perceived as religious increases the level of trust instilled in politicians by voters," Clifford said. "For Republicans (showing religiousness) will reinforce their existing support, but Democrats can expand appeal to moderates and conservatives with displays of religiousness."

Among their findings:

  • Believing atheists are moral increases willingness to for such a candidate
  • 27 percent of respondents said atheists cannot be moral
  • Majority said they would not vote for an atheist
  • Mormons were 28 percentage points less likely than those with no religious affiliation to vote for an atheist
  • Jewish respondents were no more or less likely than those with no religious affiliation to vote for an atheist

Additionally, they found that candidate Hillary Clinton was viewed more favorably and perceived to be more honest if she also was thought to be religious. That view was held most notably by non-liberals, who also indicated they were more likely to vote for her.

Clifford and Gaskins used data from two polls—2007 Newsweek poll of 1,004 adults, 2007 CBS News poll of 1,282 adults.

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Multivac jr_
4.1 / 5 (14) Jan 05, 2016
Correction: *Some* people only trust those who *claim* to believe in God (whether someone actually does or not is impossible to objectively verify, and in any case such a belief is subject to change without notice).

It seems to me that it's more about trusting those who we believe are like "us," and not following whichever religion is dominant in the region one lives in (or at least giving it a minimum of lip-service to assuage the locals) is one of the most reliable ways to be considered one of "them."

And the religious even trust those who follow the "wrong" religion more than atheists because at least they believe in a god or gods (even if it's the wrong one(s), lol). That makes them a lot less "other" than someone who follows no religion at all. It's probably a function of conflating one's ego/identity with one's Belief System, which results in one perceiving criticism or dismissiveness of one's B.S. as a deeply-personal insult or attack on one's character/intelligence/etc..
MandoZink
4.7 / 5 (12) Jan 05, 2016
"We" is definitely the wrong word here.

The more religious, the less trustworthy a person actually is. What else could I possibly conclude from a person's inability to recognize that beliefs are inherited. A lifetime of unwarranted assumptions and poorly-developed reasoning skills does not warrant confidence.
And the religious even trust those who follow the "wrong" religion more than atheists because at least they believe in a god or gods
There is an unfortunate prevalence of "belief in any god" being better than not having adopting any reigning mythology in the first place. I first discovered this while questioning my mother about her view of nonbelievers.

I say that if you cannot recognize the morality of a person, and blindly think only theists are moral, then I must be cautious about YOUR judgement skills. Living a life of poor logic and underdeveloped reasoning skills is good evidence that it is YOU who are less than trustworthy.
kulashaker
4.1 / 5 (9) Jan 05, 2016
MandoZink - what a wonderful comment. Genuinely.

Religion, or indeed the belief in any supernatural being is nonsense. Faith - that foundation of religion, is rendered unnecessary by evidence: faith is only required when there is no supporting evidence... And yet faith is held by religious believers as the ultimate truth.

Go figure!
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.5 / 5 (15) Jan 05, 2016
"A new study suggests including religion in campaign speeches feeds a belief that those who are religious to some extent are trustworthy and viewed more favorably..."
-How easy to fall for this lie, as along with it comes guaranteed immortality, wishes granted, and forgiveness of transgressions both committed and yet to be committed.

Who wouldnt take the chance?

"27 percent of respondents said atheists cannot be moral..." -And a more complicated study would generate numbers indicating that adherents of one religion would say that adherents of all other religions cannot be moral either.

The only difference is that each group claims that their god is the exclusive source of morality and are often willing to fight, often unprovoked, to the death to protect that belief. The mere existence of the heathen is blasphemy.

Atheists are usually not as willing to do this. Maybe they should be.

God-sanctioned bigotry is the lowest form of bigotry and needs to be eradicated.
my2cts
3.6 / 5 (14) Jan 05, 2016
I object to the title of this article. It is an insult to intelligence.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (14) Jan 05, 2016
The first 3 commandments say that belief in god is required for the other 7 to work.

Question - how did the israelites know how to behave before they got to sinai (hitchens et al)? Sure, many were tempted, and strayed, and were culled, but this happened both before sinai and after.

This is also incidently how you domesticate wild animals.

Apparently the presence of the tablets had little effect on hebrew morality.

And instead of flushing the entire world, why didnt god just write the torah sooner so that the people knew how to act? Why didnt he just give the tablets to adam? Perhaps we couldve avoided original sin, or at least spared Abel.

These are things I tend to wonder about.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (11) Jan 05, 2016
The guy in the pic above has that 'Im so happy happy happy - dont you want to be forgiven too?' smile of the born againner.

I suspect bias.
Eikka
3.3 / 5 (8) Jan 05, 2016
Atheists are usually not as willing to do this. Maybe they should be.

God-sanctioned bigotry is the lowest form of bigotry and needs to be eradicated.


Careful - lest you start claiming an exclusive source of morality yourself. How would you justify the contradiction in saying that there is no absolute morality, and that religious bigotry needs to be eradicated as a rule?

cgsperling
4.6 / 5 (10) Jan 05, 2016
People who think they are pawns of God are the most dangerous and untrustworthy people around.
Squirrel
not rated yet Jan 06, 2016
For those who want to read the paper rather than the press release: Scott Clifford & Ben Gaskins "Trust Me, I Believe in God Candidate Religiousness as a Signal of Trustworthiness" pdf behind paywall http://apr.sagepu...abstract
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
4.6 / 5 (10) Jan 06, 2016
Now that is funny.

- Same type of studies find that demonstrating religiousness is a significant roadblock for winning public office in Sweden.

- And of course if in US the demonstration of religiousness is asking for non-christian religious places (say, mosques) or laws (say, sharia), the correlation fails utterly.

Encouragingly the bigotry is diminishing. Pew studies finds that not only is religiousness decreasing drastically in US in the newer generations, the respect for religion and especially diverse churches is dropping drastically as well! [ https://whyevolut...ennials/ ]
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
4.6 / 5 (9) Jan 06, 2016
"How would you justify the contradiction in saying that there is no absolute morality, and that religious bigotry needs to be eradicated as a rule?"

In the same way that diseases are eradicated because they are harmful. Relative morals doesn't mean that they are arbitrary akin to various religious morals. On the contrary both inherent and secular social morals (say, human rights) are developed because they are useful.

But I didn't read that as a suggestion to eradicate bigotry as much as eradicate religion as a social force, which would disempower (eradicate) its immoralities. If religious sects were like knitting clubs with no social pretensions outside meeting similar minded, they wouldn't be a problem (as the described research shows they are).
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (7) Jan 06, 2016
there is no absolute morality, and that religious bigotry needs to be eradicated as a rule?
I never said this. Let me tell you what I think - for humans, morality is found in the tribal dynamic.

"As regards humans, Darwin stated that "the confinement of sympathy to the same tribe" must have been the rule. This was for him one of the chief causes of the low morality of the savages. "Primeval man", he argued, "regarded actions as good or bad solely as they obviously affected the welfare of the tribe, not of the species". Among the living tribal peoples, he added, "the virtues are practised almost exclusively in relation to the men of the same tribe" and the corresponding vices "are not regarded as crimes" if practised on other tribes (Darwin, 1871)
http://rint.recht...rid2.htm

-Religions were formed to exploit this dynamic by extending it over ever larger groups. Xianity for instance was tailored to unite warring euro tribes.
cont>
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (7) Jan 06, 2016
All religions thrive on the 'us vs them' dynamic. Crimes against fellow believers are not considered crimes if committed against heathens.

They are actually mandatory for all true believers.

And there is no separating this dynamic from the religion. The ones which have survived to the present are the ones which were best at outgrowing their less prolific counterparts and then taking whatever they needed from them in order to sustain themselves.

The torah very succinctly describes such a process. No wonder the church doctors decided to include it in the canon. They also prudently wrote anti-semitism into the NT in order to counter the expansionism of the people who first put it in writing.

Indications are that the jewish revolts were in fact a continuous war against this culture, and that rome was losing it. monotheism was spreading throughout the known world by propagation and proselytism.

Rome realized that to defeat it they needed to create something even worse.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (8) Jan 06, 2016
The enlightenment began the process of ending religionism by slowly reemphasizing the appreciation of evidence as the basis of belief, with the intent of ultimately establishing the perception that people everywhere were members of one tribe, and that the intratribal portion of the dynamic was the only proper one.

This is the source of 'absolute morality'.

Obviously no religion is capable of uniting all of humanity, despite what they will all tell you, because the concept of us vs them is WRITTEN INTO THEIR BOOKS. None can exist without enemies.

What kind of story would the exodus have been without pharoah, the amalakites, or satan?

This is why they need to end. They are unfixable. The current ecumenicism and laissez faire are temporary because they are in direct conflict with the fundamental values of every religionist who believes that only his god, worshipped in his own specific way, is the exclusive source of morality.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (7) Jan 06, 2016
Just to be clear, we have evolved to expect competition. It is an essential component of 'survival of the fittest'. Enemies either compel organisms to evolve better defenses, or to seek out new environments and to adapt to them.

The human response to competition was to band together to ward off enemies. Our evolution had become externalized - we could make weapons and clothes rather than evolving fangs and fur.

We soon became able to hunt the animals which had been keeping our numbers in check. Man became the only enemy of man.

And the resulting socio-technological explosion caused our brains to grow to the oversized, defect-prone, and energy-hungry machines we suffer with today.
cont>

TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (8) Jan 06, 2016
The tribal dynamic is a natural outcome of human competition. The universal tribe concept is distinctly unnatural. It requires massive demographic engineering over the course of centuries to establish and maintain. It requires melting pots and engineered wars, which after all no more outlandish or unimaginable than designer religions.

Im done.
TabulaMentis
5 / 5 (2) Jan 06, 2016
One thing that concerns me is that Scott Clifford whose photograph is at the top of the article looks like he may be a vampire with those two canine teeth of his.

It just does not add up when politicians who claim to be Christians show a desire to kill Russian Christians and turn the head the other way when Christians in the Middle East are getting slaughtered in exchange for radical Sunni Saudi Arabian Wahabbists money.
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2016
this is why we have so many crappy politicians. If you are willing to lie and grandstand/soapbox about Believing in God to the American public I guess it makes it easier to stand on your soapbox and lie about things that actually matter. Money/power is the real God most politicians believe in. The fact the religiously biased voters eat it up is why politicians claim to be religious.
What kind of person and politician you are should have nothing to do with whatever religion you are besides that. I don't trust a mega Christian guy to be more moral and good more than an agnostic or atheist. We see on here regularly the truth on who is more moral and honest with themselves. They make a point of showcasing it over and over in fact. As soon as they see this article I'm sure they'll give us a demonstration.
jim_xanara
1 / 5 (5) Jan 07, 2016
There is only one God, Allah, and Mohamed is his prophet.

There. Now maybe you'll trust what I tell you about Zionists.
AGreatWhopper
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 07, 2016
It's people thinking that they live by a moral code and are more trustworthy. That thinking misses three important points.

1). xtian ethics are designed to control *your* behavior, not theirs. They are the biggest hypocrites on the planet.
2). You have to be stupid to believe in God. Stupid people are more likely to engage in petty crime and deceit, so they're less honest.
3). Many use the concept of forgiveness to rationalize unethical behavior. An atheist that has no such rationalization is more likely to deal squarely with you.

Vietvet
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 07, 2016
There is only one God, Allah, and Mohamed is his prophet.

There. Now maybe you'll trust what I tell you about Zionists.


No one should trust scum like you.
my2cts
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 07, 2016
The god of the old testament and his prophet Moses are murderers. I am not an expert on the other religions but expect the same. The god of the new testament is all talk but no actions. I don't see how belonging to such sects would guarantee higher moral standards.
Guy_Underbridge
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2016
Personally, I think someone who has an emotional investment in the belief of a god(s) is more willing to accept someone else who also believes, even if they do not share the same religion or deities. An atheist not believing in any god is direct insult to this emotional investment, whereas someone of a different religion is just mistaken.
ab3a
2.1 / 5 (7) Jan 09, 2016
The foundation for most religions starts from the notion that one should do for others what you expect others to do for you. Exactly what those things are is where the beliefs diverge. But the notion of different treatment of strangers is something that MOST religions should avoid. (Note: this is one of the key differences that separate cults from religion --cults separate their community from the rest of the world)

Most so-called atheists have an infantile view of what religion really is and what it is about. What they do not realize is that they have substituted other beliefs instead of a religion. And primary among those beliefs is that their moral behavior will be returned.

This is what most people seek in a religious politician: Someone who fosters justice, love, and community among the community. To get that, one needs some strong beliefs and to instill those beliefs in others.

That's what this is about, not mythology.
julianpenrod
2.1 / 5 (7) Jan 10, 2016
Among other things, all atheists insisted for a long time, until I confronted them, that "all wars are caused by religion". Any atheists who didn't contradict them are likewise liars.
Atheists trundle lies like Hitchens', "Anything propounded without proof can be dismissed without proof". In other words, if you don't prove what you say, that is proof it is untrue. Fermat never proved his Last Theorem, but that didn't stop mathematicians from working to see if it was true or not. Kurt Godel said there are statements in any philosophical system which are true, but unprovable in that system.
In the same way, atheists declare baldly they work by proof, then insist God is not present, but refuse to provide proof, slithering behind the dodge, "You can't prove a negative", which is also untrue. But, if they have no proof, why do they accept that?
All atheists are liars.
julianpenrod
2.1 / 5 (7) Jan 10, 2016
MandZink declares beliefs are hereditary. Then where did atheism come from?
TheGhostofOtto1923 declares the first 3 commandments declare accepting the presence of God is necessary for the rest to work. That is a lie. Nowhere is that declared. Note, too, The GhostofOtto1923's engaging in the delusional atheist tack of denying the presence of God, but deliberately writing His name with a lowercase "g" to spite Him!
Lying, such as, "all wars were caused by religion"; calling God names; engaging, in general, in "discussions" that are only hate filled polemics without actually addressing facts; mocking, ridiculing.
In the end, it is less the belief system here than they type who accept it. The leaders of atheism are all scammers who know they truth, their followers are all arrested development freaks, failures and misfits, incapable for normal human relationships.
kochevnik
1.8 / 5 (4) Jan 10, 2016
@penrod Among other things, all atheists insisted for a long time, until I confronted them, that "all wars are caused by religion".
Well some wars are caused by false-flags in modern warfare. More importantly ALL wars are funded by banksters. WWI would have not been so devestating had bankers not funded both sides, making a war bubble
MandZink declares beliefs are hereditary. Then where did atheism come from?
Everyone is born an atheist, penrod
julianpenrod
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 10, 2016
Again, a demonstration of the common God hater assumption that a rejoinder is proof.
I pointed out that MandZink declared beliefs hereditary and I asked where atheism came from, then, if atheists' parents accepted the presence of God. kochevnik spouts, "Everyone is born an atheist". First, where is kochevnik's proof? The God haters always declare themselves to be motivated by proof, but never provide it. But, consider, too, if all children are born atheist and only get belief from their parents, where did accepting the presence of God begin? When did the first children, supposedly born atheist, not to have an hereditary force instilling accepting the presence of God develop the acceptance of the presence of God and why?
my2cts
3 / 5 (4) Jan 10, 2016
if all children are born atheist and only get belief from their parents, where did accepting the presence of God begin? When did the first children, supposedly born atheist, not to have an hereditary force instilling accepting the presence of God develop the acceptance of the presence of God and why?

Easy. Take the example of Norway. The king decided that all norsemen should become christian and had everyone killed who refused.
my2cts
3 / 5 (4) Jan 10, 2016
"Olaf I then made it his priority to convert the country to Christianity using all means at his disposal. By destroying temples and torturing and killing pagan resisters he succeeded in making every part of Norway at least nominally Christian. Expanding his efforts to the Norse settlements in the west the kings' sagas credit him with Christianizing the Faroes, Orkney, Shetland, Iceland and Greenland.

After Olaf's defeat at the Battle of Svolder in 1000 there was a partial relapse to paganism in Norway under the rule of the Jarls of Lade. In the following reign of Saint Olaf, pagan remnants were stamped out and Christianity entrenched."

https://en.wikipe...a#Norway

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