This is an unusual quote from George Bush’s 1987 Presidential election campaign:
Robert Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?
George H.W. Bush: No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
I found this quote via Kevin Drum’s Political Animal, and it would be fair to say that its provenance is hotly disputed in the comments.
But, what I find most interesting, speaking from the perspective of a Brit who has lived in the States, and is therefore not entirely clueless about US politics, is that I have no problems in believing that a Republican US politician could think that this was either:
- Actually true
- A politically astute way of appealing to the religious vote
Either of these options is damaging for the integrity of American politics. If a politician doesn’t believe atheists should be citizens or, worse, doesn’t care but is prepared to sell them out for votes, then one day atheists could actually lose their right to be citizens.