An atheist running for President of the United States today faces roughly the same level of prejudice from voters as a female candidate would have faced in the 1940s while women workers were being sacked to make way for returning soldiers.
Or as a black candidate would have faced in the 1960s while Martin Luther King was delivering his ‘I have a Dream’ speech. Or as a gay candidate would have faced in the 1980s while many of the straight community were blaming gay men for an AIDS epidemic.
In 2007, a Gallup poll revealed that most Americans would not vote for a well-qualified atheist as President. Incredibly, half of all American moderates, and three in ten liberals, said they would not vote for a well-qualified atheist who was nominated by their own party. If you look at similar polls since the 1930s, you will see that black and female politicians are gradually escaping from this prejudice – or, at least, voters are less willing to openly admit such prejudice to pollsters – but atheist politicians, like gay politicians, still have decades of catching up ahead of them.
The question that Gallup asked, for USA Today, in Feb 2007, was: If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be [atheist etc], would you vote for that person?
Gallup has asked similar questions in Jan-Feb 1937, Sep 1949, Sep 1958, Mar 1969, Jul 1978, Jul 1987, Aug 1987, and Feb 1999.