Oct 9, 2012

Christians won’t vote for atheist leaders: research

It’s politics, for God’s sake, but how much does politicians' religiosity actually sway the Christian voter bloc? Researcher Grant Power investigates.

Tony Abbott is a Christian. Did you know that? Perhaps it slipped your notice when he condemned boat people as “un-Christian” for using the back door, or when he told the Australian Christian Lobby that “our civilisation is inconceivable without the influence of Christian faith”, or insisted that Bible classes in schools should be compulsory.

Abbott isn’t shy about his faith. And it’s not just the conservative side of politics playing the game — when Kevin Rudd was prime minister he chased votes at the ACL. Even the self-proclaimed atheist Julia Gillard won’t challenge the controversial School Chaplaincy Program.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

17 thoughts on “Christians won’t vote for atheist leaders: research

  1. Holden Back

    Did you look at any lingering sectarian suspicions influencing voters? There is still some lingering doubt in the US evangelicals will vote for a Mormon presidential candidate.

  2. Rosemary Stanton

    Your graph needs to show confidence intervals to have much relevance.

  3. Mark Duffett

    It’d be interesting to see research looking the other way: With atheism increasingly strident these days, are atheists less likely to vote for Christian leaders? I venture to suggest, with no evidence whatsoever, that there would be no major positive bias of atheists towards non-religious leaders, but there might well be a substantial negative bias against religious ones.

  4. SusieQ

    As an atheist, I find the final paragraph most interesting in this story.
    In terms of voting, unless someone is putting forward an overtly religious set of policies, then their religion is not the primary thing I am concerned about. I am concerned about policies and whether a particular party meets my expectations. Lets face it, political parties in Australia generally have a range of religious beliefs within them – I bet there are a few athiests amongst the Liberal party, for example. If Christians want to be so narrow-minded, then thats their problem.

  5. Michael Bell

    The results have no meaning beyond comparing two groups of Christians: nothing can be said about how these voter preferences compare to the preferences of the population as a whole, and there is no information about the relative importance of the leaders’ religiosity compared to other factors.

    The article also perpetuates the myth that the Australian Christian Lobby is representative of Australian Christians. It most definitely is not.

  6. mikeb

    As a Christian I am only interested in comparing the actions of politicians rather than what they profess to believe. Abbott might be a professed Christian but some of his actions are a long way from what Jesus would encourage. Judge people on what they do – not on what they say.

  7. The Old Bill

    I distrust anyone who needs to talk to an imaginary friend before making a decision.
    I suppose that means I can’t vote for Tony either.

  8. soilmates

    Grant, would like to have seen a disclosure on your own religious position, might have had an influence (subliminal, of course)on your interpretations.

  9. David Hand

    I think Christian political activism is a symptom of its decline, a sort of rearguard action as it retreats from a place of dominance. I make this point with regard to centuries. 100 years ago, it was unthinkable for leaders in society not to be Christian. You didn’t have christian political movements because all mainstream political movements were Christian and communism was consigned to the fringe because of its atheism .

    Australia is now firmly post-christian where most people identify as christian for traditional and family reasons. This is why any overt christian political activism by Tony Abbott would be electoral death and why he won’t go there.

  10. CML

    Would someone like to tell these “fairies at the bottom of the garden” Christian lot, that this is a SECULAR country, with a SECULAR constitution? They can act out their fantasies OUTSIDE of government, and leave the rest of us in peace!!!!!
    No religion should have an influence on the government of this country. Surely there is an argument to be made that such interference is unconstitional?
    The last time these Christians influenced government in a big way we got funding for religious and so-called independent schools. Now all religious types are attached to the “funding” tube of the Feds. That worked out well, NOT!

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details