Atheists Identified As America's Least-Trusted Minority

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American's increasing acceptance of religious diversity doesn't extend to those who don't believe in a god, according to a national survey by researchers in the University of Minnesota's department of sociology.

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society." Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. "Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years," says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study's lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today's atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past - they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. "It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common 'core' of values that make them trustworthy" and in America, that 'core' has historically been religious," says Edgell. Many of the study's respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. "Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens' they share an understanding of right and wrong," she said. "Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good."

The researchers also found acceptance or rejection of atheists is related not only to personal religiosity, but also to one's exposure to diversity, education and political orientation with more educated, East and West Coast Americans more accepting of atheists than their Midwestern counterparts.

The study is co-authored by assistant professor Joseph Gerteis and associate professor Doug Hartmann. It's the first in a series of national studies conducted the American Mosaic Project, a three-year project funded by the Minneapolis-based David Edelstein Family Foundation that looks at race, religion and cultural diversity in the contemporary United States. The study will appear in the April issue of the American Sociological Review.


 

it's easy to hate a stereotype
Posted by wizeGurl on 2006-03-23 12:03:31
I'll bet that most of the people surveyed here have never personally met anyone who identifies themselves as an atheist, and are responding to what they imagine atheists must be like. Most of the actual atheists I know are highly moral and concerned for the common good.

Similarly, it was easier to be intolerant of gay people when they were all in the closet. Once people started realizing that their neighbors and family members were gay, but not monsters, they became more tolerant.

Atheists of the world, come out of the closet. Show the people around you what real atheists look and act like.
good resource
Posted by Hillbilly on 2006-03-23 12:19:09
Here's a good resource for information:
http://whichreligion.com/
Delicious Babies
Posted by Atheists on 2006-03-27 12:56:04
I am an atheist and I eat babies.
2'000 People surveyed
Posted by Fiendishfoe on 2006-04-02 03:48:21
Hmmm, and the population is what? 298,290,000.. Yeah, that is a fair Assessment.. This topic should be called, "pulling facts out of your ass", I'm sure half the population doesn't care what an atheist is, the other quarter doesn't know what a atheist is, and the other 25% are just reciting what Bill O'Reily told them cause The Fox News Drones can't comprehend a orginal thought..
Posted by JAB on 2006-05-03 16:42:41
It says, "It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common 'core' of values that make them trustworthy."

Say I'm sitting at a table with a couple of people I don't know. Say the conversation turns to religion. The person at the table who comes right out and says they're an atheist is the one who will always get my immediate trust.
Theists are inherently immoral
Posted by Anti-Theist on 2006-05-04 18:11:49
Think about it.

Christians believe that jesus will forgive them at any time, regardless of their sins and they can go to heaven. Atheists, don't believe any of that crap. Who would be more trustworty? Someone who can do as much evil as they want and expects some invisible spirit to forgive and reward them later? Or someone who recognizes that here-and-now we all mostly have to answer to nobody other than each other?
New Survey
Posted by Dirty Little Fun-Haver on 2006-08-16 17:22:59
So are parents more likely to allow their children to marry 'reformed' convicts than atheists?
Re: new survey
Posted by Justin on 2011-06-12 19:11:25
reformed convicts?
If the atheist was previously christian, what's the difference?
 

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