Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, is a real chip of the old block. Just as her father is bigoted against atheists, she too is an anti-atheist bigot. And remember, this is one of the most prominent families in American Christianity. They arguably represent the best that American Christianity has to offer.
Their ideology is certainly representative enough to keep them popular for many, many decades so they can't be dismissed as a fringe element that too unimportant to be worth addressing.
I would not want-- I would not vote for a man who was atheist because I believe you-- you need to have acknowledgment, a reverence, a fear for almighty God. And I believe that's where wisdom comes from. ...
You know, I think people-- have an intuition that religious faith is connected the moral values that make for just laws. And that if we cut our laws away from their moral moorings-- we're not going to have a society which we would like to think of as a civilization of justice and love.
So there really-- I think that what we want to say is that religion-- is not an irrational force, it's not a divisive force, it-- it-- in all of our diversity our faiths contribute to a moral consensus that underlie-- underlies our laws.
And the more we build that moral consensus about the dignity of human life, solidarity, the common good, the more we're going to be able to find ways of talking across the partisan divide. And so I think that religion has a huge role to play. And we have to watch out getting instrumentalized-- one way or the other.
If I said that I'd refuse to vote for someone simply because they are Jewish, I'd be an Antisemite. If I said I'd refuse to vote for someone simply because they are black, I'd be a racist. The bigotry of Anne Graham Lotz here is no different, it's just directed at a different group -- a group unpopular enough in America that such bigotry is greeted warmly rather than condemned.
A lot of people (Christians, generally) will try to excuse such bigotry by arguing that it's really an expression of ideological preference. Anne Graham Lotz is merely showing a preference for people who share certain beliefs of hers. By that reasoning, though, it wouldn't be bigoted or even problematic to refuse to vote for someone who didn't believe in Jesus -- i.e., someone who wasn't a Christian.
Now, there are certainly plenty of Christians out there who would agree with that and who probably do it themselves. However, I'm not sure that all those who might try to defend Anne Graham Lotz would also try to defend that. Many of those who try to excuse anti-atheist bigotry don't also favor that sort of Christian exclusivism.
That, however, reveals that they are just trying to rationalize their own bigotry. There aren't any arguments that can be used to excuse excluding atheists that couldn't also be used to exclude non-Christians. Bigotry against atheists can't be defended without providing cover for bigotry against non-Christians -- and probably a lot of other groups, too.