Gallup: Record number of Americans would vote for an atheist president
By Paul Fidalgo, special to CNN
3 minute read
7:14 PM EDT, Thu June 25, 2015
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster opened up about his beliefs and publicly stated that he doesn't believe in God in an interview with ESPN published August 6. "Everybody always says the same thing: You have to have faith," he said. "That's my whole thing: Faith isn't enough for me. For people who are struggling with that, they're nervous about telling their families or afraid of the backlash. ... Man, don't be afraid to be you. I was, for years."
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British entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson said in a 2011 interview with CNN's Piers Morgan that he believes in evolution and the importance of humanitarian efforts but not in the existence of God. "I would love to believe," he said. "It's very comforting to believe."
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British actor Daniel Radcliffe, known for his role as Harry Potter, declared he was an atheist in a 2009 interview. "I'm an atheist, but I'm very relaxed about it," he said. "I don't preach my atheism, but I have a huge amount of respect for people like Richard Dawkins who do."
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During a 2002 interview on "Inside the Actor's Studio," actress Julianne Moore was asked what she would like to hear God say to her at the gates of heaven. She replied, "Well, I guess you were wrong. I do exist."
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A GQ cover story in 2012 noted that Spanish actor Javier Bardem is an atheist. He is quoted as saying, "I've always said I don't believe in God; I believe in Al Pacino."
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English actress Keira Knightley has joked that she wishes she were Catholic. "If only I wasn't an atheist; I could get away with anything," she said in 2012. "You'd just ask for forgiveness, and then you'd be forgiven."
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Actor Paul Giamatti calls himself an atheist. In a 2011 interview, he said, "My wife is Jewish, and I'm fine with my son being raised as a Jew. ... I will talk to my son about my atheism when the time is right."
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Sir Ian McKellen, best known for his roles as Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and Magneto in the "X-Men" films, has listed atheism among the causes he cares most about. But he says since coming out as gay in 1988, he has been reluctant to lobby on issues beyond his most urgent concern: "legal and social equality for gay people worldwide."
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Legendary CBS News commentator Andy Rooney, who died in 2011 at age 92, was outspoken about religion. "I am an atheist," Rooney said at Tufts University in 2004. "I don't understand religion at all. I'm sure I'll offend a lot of people by saying this, but I think it's all nonsense."
British actress Emma Thompson said in a 2008 interview, "I'm an atheist; I suppose you can call me a sort of libertarian anarchist. I regard religion with fear and suspicion. It's not enough to say that I don't believe in God. I actually regard the system as distressing: I am offended by some of the things said in the Bible and the Quran, and I refute them."
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Singer-songwriter Billy Joel reiterated his stance in a 2010 interview with radio host Howard Stern. Asked whether he believed in God, Joel replied, "No. I'm an atheist." His song "Only the Good Die Young" includes the line "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints."
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Composer and musician Brian Eno refers to himself as an "evangelical atheist." In 2007, he told the BBC, "What religion says to you, essentially, is that you're not in control. Now that's a very liberating idea. It's quite a frightening idea as well, in some ways."
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Penn Jillette, half of the Emmy Award-winning magic duo Penn & Teller, wrote the book "God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales." In it, he said, "If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true, and someone would find a way to figure it all out again."
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Academy Award-winning director James Cameron, known for films such as "Titanic" and "Avatar," calls himself a "converted agnostic." In "The Futurist," a biography by Rebecca Keegan, he says, "I've sworn off agnosticism, which I now call cowardly atheism." Atheists believe there is no God, while agnostics say it's impossible to prove or disprove God's existence.
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British actor Hugh Laurie, known for his lead role on the medical drama "House," confirmed his atheism in a 2007 interview with The Sunday Telegraph. "I don't believe in God," he said, "but I have this idea that if there were a God, or destiny of some kind looking down on us, that if he saw you taking anything for granted, he'd take it away."
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Actress Jodie Foster told Entertainment Weekly in 2007 that she was an atheist. She added, "But I absolutely love religions and the rituals. Even though I don't believe in God, we celebrate pretty much every religion in our family with the kids."
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Seth MacFarlane, creator of the animated series "Family Guy," has become vocal about his atheism. Asked about it in a 2009 interview with Esquire, he said, "It's like the civil-rights movement. There have to be people who are vocal about the advancement of knowledge over faith."