Skip to comments.Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study
Posted on 03/22/2006 4:04:11 PM PST by dukeman
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL-- Americans increasing acceptance of religious diversity doesnt extend to those who dont believe in a god, according to a national survey by researchers in the University of Minnesotas 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 studys lead researcher.
Edgell also argues that todays atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the pastthey 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 trustworthyand in America, that core has historically been religious, says Edgell. Many of the studys 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 citizensthey 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 ones exposure to diversity, education and political orientationwith 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. Its 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.
I don't have a problem with atheists. I have a problem with atheists who have a problem with Christianity.
I think next Thurs. is National Pray For An Atheist Day.
I'm going to strap a bomb to my chest for Darwin, you god-fearing infidels! Muhahahha!. Sarcasm aside, I can understand why. Most atheists are bitter people that would rather use ad-hominem attacks than to use reason to back up their claims.
Great. Now we have another oppressed minority group.
I wouldn't say most atheists are so mean-spirited. Most I know are kind enough.
Agreed. I have a problem with those vocal types.
Snicker. Of course, you don't use ad hominem attacks.
Does this mean I'm entitled to some kind of affirmative action for my persecuted beliefs?
Oddly enough, I only have a problem with Christians who have a problem with atheism. So we should get along just fine :-)
"they are seen as a threat to the American way of life"
Umm, personally, I'd prefer a godless atheist, who, by definition, is *FAR* more likely *not* to blow himself up than a deranged Islamic 'believer' that thinks he's going to his virgins.
Guess I'll have to go find one to hug now...
Atheists would have a better image but for the Newdows amongst their numbers.
Certainly a person who is honest about his disbelief is less trustworthy than an old fashioned hypocrite like Bill Clinton.
I'm an atheist. I speak out of experience.
I know several kind atheists, one being my niece.
I could tell by the ad hominem attack. Self awareness is a good thing. :-)
Get in line! :-)
I'm Anglo-Saxon and I'm still waiting for my reparations payment from the Norman conquest of England in 1066. My ancestors lost a lot of prime real estate....
Interesting book on the topic...the chapters on the leading light of atheism
Don't let the 2.5/5 stars rating fool you. It's a good book by a smart guy.
IIRC, his Oxford office is either in the same building (or next over) from
that of Richard Dawkins.
The Twilight of Atheism : The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World
by Alister Mcgrath
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