Atheism and women

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Studies indicate that women in the Western World tend to be more religious than men.[1]

Women are less likely to be atheists according to surveys performed around the world and other data.[2][3]

In 2016, Atheist Alliance International (AAI) conducted an annually reoccurring atheist census project and found concerning atheism and women: "At the time of writing, the Atheist Census Project recorded that on average worldwide 73.2% of respondents were male. The result is consistent with other research... As such, the focus of many scholarly papers has been on seeking to explain this persistent observation."[4]

In addition, atheist websites appear to receive significantly less traffic from women.


Atheism and women: Recent studies and other data

Worldwide data indicates that women are less likely to be atheists.[5][6]

See also: Atheism and diversity and Atheism and white males and Atheist women statistics

Atheism and women: Surveys by country

In November 2010, Discover Magazine published survey results published by the World Values Survey which showed significant differences between the percentage of men and women who are atheists in various countries with men outnumbering women in terms of adopting an atheist worldview.[7]

Atheism and women: United States surveys

In 2015, BloombergView reported concerning the United States: "According to a much-discussed 2012 report from the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life, ...women are 52 percent of the U.S. population but only 36 percent of atheists and agnostics.[8]

A 2009 article in entitled Women More Religious Than Men reported: "A new analysis of survey data finds women pray more often than men, are more likely to believe in God, and are more religious than men in a variety of other ways...The latest findings, released Friday, are no surprise, only confirming what other studies have found for decades.[9] In 2007, the Pew Research Center found that American women were more religious than American men.[9]

Other Atheist Alliance International analysis

Oxford University Press reports about a previous study done by AAI: "...atheism remains a male-dominated affair. Data collected by the Atheist Alliance International (2011) show that in Britain, women account for 21.6% of atheists (as opposed to 77.9% men). In the United States men make up 70% of Americans who identify as atheists. In Poland, 32% of atheists are female, and similarly in Australia it is 31.5%."[10]

Atheistic China and gender imbalance

See also: Asian atheism and Atheistic China and sexism

China has the largest atheist population in the world (see: China and atheism).[11] The current atheist population mostly resides in East Asia (particularly China) and in secular Europe/Australia primarily among whites.[12] See: Asian atheism and Western atheism and race

Due to sex-selection abortion and female infanticide, there is a gender imbalance within the Chinese population.

According to 2012 figures from the National Bureau of Statistics of the People's Republic of China, China’s sex ratio at birth (the number of boys born for every 100 girls) was as high as 118, while the sex ratio amongst the total population was about 105.[13] The statistical data from China indicates that the gap between males and females at birth is far larger than the biological benchmark ratio (a sex ratio at birth of around 105 males per 100 females).[14]

Reason Rally 2016 and a lack of gender diversity among attendants

There was a 2 to 1 ratio as far as men to women attending Reason Rally 2016 according to the YouTube atheist Thunderf00t.[15]

Atheist meetings and women according to prominent atheists

The atheist PZ Myers giving a talk at George Mason University. In June 2010, PZ Myers commented that atheist meetings tend to be significantly more attended by males.[3]

In June 2010, the atheist PZ Myers commented that atheist meetings tend to be significantly more attended by males.[3] In October 2012, the atheist Susan Jacoby wrote in The Humanist concerning atheist meetings: "When I speak before non-college audiences — that is, audiences in which no one is required to be there to get credit for a college course — 75 percent of the people in the seats are men."[16]

For more information, please see:

New York Times: Atheist meeting attendees

See also: Western atheism and race

In October 2010, an atheists' meeting was organized in the United States concerning the future direction of the atheist movement, and 370 people attended. The New York Times described the attendees as "The largely white and male crowd — imagine a Star Trek convention, but older...".[17]

Atheists' group membership and demographic makeup of meetings

In 2011, Beliefnetnews reported concerning the race and gender of American atheists:

From the smallest local meetings to the largest conferences, the vast majority of speakers and attendees are almost always white men. Leading figures of the atheist movement - Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett -- are all white men.

But making atheism more diverse is proving to be no easy task.

Surveys suggest most atheists are white men. A recent survey of 4,000 members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation found that 95 percent were white, and men comprised a majority.[18]

Atheist websites appear to receive significantly less traffic from women

See: Atheist websites appear to receive significantly less traffic from women


See also: Demographics of atheism and Global atheism

The above data suggest that atheism in general and the New Atheism movement is significantly less appealing to women in the Western World and to women in the world at large (see also: Demographics of atheism and Global atheism).

Atheism and women's rights

See: Atheism and women's rights and Christianity and women's rights

Sikivu Hutchinson on the Me Too Movement and organized atheism

See also: Atheism and the Me Too Movement

In an article entitled Hiring of Accused Atheist Leader Is Reminder That #MeToo Is Still Needed in Organized Atheism, the atheist Sikivu Hutchinson wrote about the hiring of David Silverman by the organization Atheist Alliance International:

The recent decision by Atheist Alliance International (AAI) to hire the former leader of American Atheists, David Silverman, to its executive director position is yet another indication that this business-as-usual rehab strategy also applies to movement atheism, which can be just as corrupt, cronyistic, and swaggeringly hostile to women as corporate America.[19]

Atheism, women and history

See also: History of atheism and Atheism, women and history

Painting of Paul-Henri Thiry by the Swedish painter Alexander Roslin (1718–1793)

In the 1770s, the French philosopher Paul-Henri Thiry observed a dearth of female atheists.[20] The English poet Edward Young (June 5, 1681 – April 5, 1765) wrote to satirically signal earthly apocalypse: "Atheists have been rare, since nature’s birth; Till now, she-atheists ne’er appear’d on earth."[20] In a letter written in the 1760s, the English essayist Bonnell Thornton wrote: "Good God! A Female Atheist! … One is not half so shocked at the idea of a Female Murderer; A Female Murderer, in the worse of senses, of her own children, of herself."[20] In 1813, the prominent doctor Thomas Cogan (founder of the Royal Humane Society) declared: "Men contemplate a female atheist with more disgust and horror than if she possessed the hardest features embossed with carbuncles."[20]

Professor of Humanities Leigh Eric Schmidt said about women atheists in the 19th century:

In the 19th century, there are more women in the church than men. So there is an association with churches and pious femininity and domesticity. Freethinkers see women as supporters of the church, and supporters of evangelical Protestant politics, whether it’s temperance or other moral-reform causes, so there’s an alienation that arises there. They’re fearful that if women have the right to vote, they’ll vote for Christian-inflected politics. They’re afraid: What’s this going to do? Is this really going to advance the cause of reason, the cause of science, if we give women the right to vote?...

Because there was such an ideal of pious femininity—women are supposed to be pious, women are supposed to go to church—there was greater horror associated with a woman being an atheist than with a man being an atheist. Male atheists are bad. Women atheists are genuinely considered monsters.[21]

Christianity Today wrote about the American atheist Elmina Drake Slenker in an article entitled "A portrait of America’s first atheists":

When a village did manage to raise an atheist, it was almost always a boy. In his lively, informative study, Village Atheists: How America’s Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation (Princeton University Press), historian Leigh Eric Schmidt includes a chapter on Elmina Drake Slenker, a 19th-century woman from Upstate New York. Many readers today disapprove of books solely about men, but organized atheism hasn’t always been terribly concerned with gender parity. Slenker confessed that every place she went, she was the first woman atheist anyone there had ever seen. When the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism (4As) surveyed its membership in 1930, it was 93 percent male.[22]

The atheist sociologist Phil Zuckerman wrote about Slenker:

The final profile is that of Elmina Drake Slenker, an ex-Quaker who wrote novels as well as short, didactic stories for children about Darwinian naturalism, rationalism, and other secularist topics. Slenker came out publicly as an atheist in 1856 by publishing a letter in the Boston Investigator in defense of the infamous infidel Ernestine Rose. Such declarations of unbelief were scandalous for any individual at the time, but especially for women. As Schmidt documents, “Being a village atheist invited cold shoulders; being a female village atheist doubly so.” Condemnation of Slenker was swift, not only by friends and relatives, but also by public voices, newspaper editors, and writers such as the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who wrote that “the most repellent object on earth is a woman infidel. She is as unnatural as a flower which breathes poison instead of perfume.” What ultimately brought Slenker into national prominence was her prosecution by Anthony Comstock’s anti-vice crusade. Her crime? Writing leaflets and personal letters to various people about human sexuality, marital relations, birth control, and bestiality. She was put on trial, and it only took the jury 10 minutes to find her guilty.[23]

Atheism and sexism

See also: Atheism and sexism and Atheism and rape and Elevatorgate and Richard Dawkins and women and Atheist hypocrisy

Most atheists are politically on the left (see: Atheism and politics and Secular left). Part of leftist ideology is feminism. However, there is a significant amount of misogyny among atheists. See also: Atheist movement

Writing on the sexism within the atheist community, atheist Victoria Bekiempis wrote in a Guardian article entitled "Why the New Atheism is a boys' club":

Annie Laurie Gaylor, who founded the Freedom From Religion Foundation with her mother, Anne Nicol Gaylor, in 1978, sums it up succinctly: “One word — sexism.” Gaylor’s husband, Dan Barker, who helms the organization along with her, is usually the one invited to speaking engagements, despite her longer tenure as the organization’s leader and her numerous books on atheism.[24]

Katie Engelhart in her July 21, 2013 Salon article Atheism Has a Women Problem wrote:

Around the time that the Dawkins-Hitchens-Harris tripartite published its big wave of Atheist critique, historian Jennifer Michael Hecht published Doubt and journalist Susan Jacoby published Freethinkers—both critically acclaimed. And yet, these women, and many others, failed to emerge as public figures, household names. "Nobody talked about [Doubt] as a 'phenomenon,'" Hecht has noted. “They just talked about the book.” What gives?

The lady Atheist has a troubled history....[25]

Center for Inquiry accused of sexism by the atheist Rebecca Watson

In response to the question, "Why is incest wrong?", the atheist Lawrence Krauss said, "It's not clear to me that it is wrong."[26] See also: Atheism and incest

See also: Center for Inquiry

According to the atheist Rebecca Watson, the atheist Lawrence Krauss sexually harassed a woman onboard a cruise ship conducted by the Center for Inquiry.[27] Specifically, Watson said Krauss propositioned the woman to engage in a threesome and the woman complained to CFI about the matter.[28]

Rebecca Watson indicates the CFI decided to bury this complaint and allowed Krauss to be on one of its subsequent cruises.[29]

Melody Hensley and harassment from atheist men

On May 15, 2014, the Washington Post reported that Melody Hensley, executive director of the Washington branch of the Center For Inquiry, was "diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after a vicious flood of online and social media attacks that included threats of rape, murder and photographs of dismembered women. Many of her harassers, she believes, are men in the secular community."[30]

For more information please see:

Wendy Marsman leaves the atheist movement due to sexual harassment within the movement and her fellow atheists being silent about it

In 2018, the atheist Wendy Marsman, founder of the Women Beyond Belief podcast, left the atheist movement due to women being sexually harassed within the atheist movement and fellow atheists being reluctant to speak out about it.[31]

Atheist women, prominent atheists and misogyny

See also: Atheism and sexism and Atheism and love and Atheism and rape

James Randi is a prominent atheist. Brian Thompson, former James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) Outreach Coordinator, wrote:

But I no longer identify with this community of benevolent know-it-alls, because not all of them are the best folks in the world. In fact, a good percentage of the top ten worst humans I’ve ever met are prominent members of the skeptics’ club. They’re dishonest, mean-spirited, narcissistic, misogynistic. Pick a personality flaw, and I can probably point you to someone who epitomizes it. And that person has probably had a speaking slot at a major skeptical conference.

I grew particularly disgusted with the boys’ club attitude I saw among skeptical leaders and luminaries. The kind of attitude that’s dismissive of women, sexually predatory, and downright gross. When I first started going to skeptical conferences as a fresh-faced know-it-all, I started hearing things about people I once admired. Then I started seeing things myself. Then I got a job with the JREF, and the pattern continued.[32]

Atheistic China and sexism

See also: Atheistic China and sexism and Atheism and Asian males

Confucius was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher born in Lu (modern-day Shandong province).

Yi-Ling Liu of the Associated Press reported in 2018 about atheistic China and sexism:

Activists say the decline in women's status that began with the economic reforms of the 1980s accelerated as the party set aside leftist politics as a unifying message for the country and instead promoted more traditional, male-dominated Confucian beliefs.

The gulf between the sexes is especially pronounced at the highest levels of politics: The ruling party's Standing Committee, the inner circle of power, has never had a female member. In the next tier, a single woman sits in the larger 25-member Politburo...

Still, in a 2011 survey the federation also found women's wages were on average two-thirds lower than men's. And the share of women in the labor force dropped to 61 percent last year from 72 percent 20 years ago, according to the World Bank.

Party leaders are worried China is producing too few children to support its aging population, said Leta Hong-Fincher, a sociologist and author of "Betraying Big Brother: The Rise of China's Feminist Resistance," due out later this year. "The government launched a propaganda campaign referring to single, over-educated women over 30 as 'leftover' to stigmatize women into returning home, getting married and having babies," Ms. Hong-Fincher said...

In the more conservative countryside, women who suffer from domestic violence and sexual assault "tend to blame themselves rather than speak out publicly," said Li Maizi, a women's rights activist who was detained in 2015 for handing out stickers protesting sexual harassment.

Chinese leaders are trying to suppress feminist activism as a source of potential unrest, Ms. Li said, adding that even the term feminism has become politically sensitive.[33]

China, atheism and domestic violence

See: China, atheism and domestic violence

Borgen magazine article Domestic Violence in China indicates: "In China, about 40% of women experience domestic violence. Additionally, about 10% of murders in China are a result of intimate partner violence. These incidents continue despite the laws against domestic violence because of deep-seated patriarchal norms in Chinese society. Right now, the fight against domestic violence in China is one of governmental accountability and social change."[34]

Atheism and the Me Too Movement

See: Atheism and the Me Too Movement

Post sexual harassment allegations against Lawrence Krauss and David Silverman, searches for atheism-related topics have dropped markedly

Michael Shermer and sexual harassment allegations

See: Michael Shermer and sexual harassment allegations

Irreligion and domestic abuse

Research suggests that irreligiousity is a causal factor for domestic violence.[35]

See also: Irreligion and domestic violence and Atheism and love and Atheism and loneliness

The abstract for the 2007 article in the journal Violence Against Women entitled "Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence" indicated:

The authors explored the relationship between religious involvement and intimate partner violence by analyzing data from the first wave of the National Survey of Families and Households. They found that: (a) religious involvement is correlated with reduced levels of domestic violence; (b) levels of domestic violence vary by race/ethnicity; (c) the effects of religious involvement on domestic violence vary by race/ethnicity; and (d) religious involvement, specifically church attendance, protects against domestic violence, and this protective effect is stronger for African American men and women and for Hispanic men, groups that, for a variety of reasons, experience elevated risk for this type of violence.[35]

A higher rate of domestic violence exists among cohabiting couples as compared with married couples[36] Atheists have lower marriage rates than theists (see: Atheism and marriage and Atheist marriages).

A September 9, 2012 article at Atlantic Wire wrote about the noted atheist John Lennon:

But people have mostly forgotten that Lennon was also physically abusive towards women. "I used to be cruel to my woman," he said, citing the lyrics to "Getting Better" in a Playboy interview near the end of his life. "Physically—any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women." In his biography The Lives of John Lennon, Albert Goldman also maintains that Lennon was guilty of spousal abuse.[37]

For more information, please see: Irreligion and domestic violence

Secular Europe and domestic violence

See also: Secular Europe and domestic violence and Atheistic Sweden and rape

Sweden is one of the most atheistic countries in the world.[38] In Sweden, 81 percent of women said they had been harassed at some point after the age of 15 - compared to the EU average of 55 percent.[39]

In March 2014, the Swedish news website The Local published an article entitled Sweden stands out in domestic violence study which declared:

A new EU review of violence against women has revealed that one in three European women has been assaulted, and one in twenty has been raped, with the Scandinavian countries at the top of the league tables.

In the Scandinavian countries, in contrast, around half of the women reported physical or sexual violence, which researchers at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights said could have several explanations...

In Sweden, 81 percent of women said they had been harassed at some point after the age of 15 - compared to the EU average of 55 percent. After Sweden, which had the highest rate, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Finland all saw rates above 70 percent. The EU member state with the lowest rate - 24 percent - was Bulgaria.[39]

Sweden is one of the most atheistic countries in the world and the website reported that in 2005 46 - 85% of Swedes were agnostics/atheists/non-believers in God.[38] Sweden also has the 3rd highest rate of belief in evolution as far as Western World nations.[40]

See also: Atheistic Sweden and rape and Sexual immorality and Sweden

For more information, please see: Irreligion and domestic violence

Irreligion, alcoholism and domestic abuse

See also: Atheist Americans, gender and alcoholism

According to the World Health Organization, "Evidence suggests that alcohol use increases the occurrence and severity of domestic violence".[41]

A 2010 Scientific American column article indicates concerning domestic violence that "Women suffer close to two thirds of the injuries... In addition, women and men differ in the severity of their actions; women are more likely to scratch or slap their partners, men more commonly punch or choke their partners."[42]

Alcoholism was a serious social problem in the former atheistic Soviet Union.[43] Between 1940 and 1980, this atheist state had the largest increase of the amount of alcohol usage in the developed world.[44]

Atheists and atheistic societies often have significant problems with excess alcohol usage (For more information please see: Atheism and alcoholism).

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Excessive drinking is associated with significant increases in short-term risks to health and safety, and the risk increases as the amount of drinking increases. Men are also more likely than women to take other risks (e.g., driving fast or without a safety belt), when combined with excessive drinking, further increasing their risk of injury or death.

Approximately 63% of adult men reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days. Men (24%) were two times more likely to binge drink than women during the same time period.

Men average about 12.5 binge-drinking episodes per person per year, while women average about 2.7 binge-drinking episodes per year.

Most people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol-dependent.

It is estimated that about 17% of men and about 8% of women will meet the criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.[45]

Atheism and rape

See also: Atheism and rape and Mass rape of German women by the Soviet army

Atheism offers no condemnation of rape and it provides no moral basis for a society to attempt to prevent and deter rape. Western atheists often assert there are no absolutes in morality and argue for moral relativism (see: Atheism and morality).

Commenting on Western atheism and rape, the Christian apologist Ken Ammi wrote:

When considering any and every atheist condemnation of any action whatsoever it is of primary importance to keep in mind that they are expressing personal opinions about the act(s) they are condemning. They are merely telling you their personal preferences in the form of morality borrowed from the Judeo-Christian worldview. They are piling unfounded assertion, upon unfounded assertion, upon unfounded assertion, and building a tel of arguments from outrage, arguments from personal incredulity, arguments for embarrassment, etc.[46]

Christian apologist Kyle Butt wrote: "In fact, in my debate with Dan Barker, Barker admitted that fact, and stated that under certain circumstances, rape would be a moral obligation (Butt and Barker, 2009)"[47] (see: Atheist Dan Barker Says Child Rape Could Be Moral).

TheAmazingAtheist is YouTube's most subscribed YouTube channel produced by an atheist and as of February 2012 it had over 280,000 subscribers. In 2012, he viciously told a rape victim "you deserved it" and told her that her rapist "deserved a medal". He also told her that she should try to relive the rape in her mind.

See also: Atheistic Sweden and rape

Mass rape during the occupation of Germany by the Soviet army

When told that Red Army soldiers sexually assaulted German refugees, the atheist Joseph Stalin reportedly said: "We lecture our soldiers too much; let them have their initiative."[48]

See also: Mass rape of German women by the Soviet army

The Soviet Union practiced state atheism and militant atheism. According to the University of Cambridge, historically, the "most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power."[49]

The journalist Peter Hitchens is the ex-atheist brother of atheist Christopher Hitchens and he covered the Soviet Union during its latter years before it collapsed. According to Peter Hitchens, an atheistic society degraded the morals of the Russian people during the Soviet period (see: Soviet Union and morality).[50]

As Allied troops entered and occupied Germany during the latter part of World War II, mass rapes occurred in connection with combat operations and during the occupation which followed. Historians in the Western World generally conclude that the majority of the rapes were committed by Soviet servicemen.

The majority of the rapes happened in the Soviet occupation zone. Estimates of the number of German women sexually assaulted by Soviet soldiers have ranged up to 2 million.[51] The historian William Hitchcock declared that in many cases women were the victims of repeated rapes, some women experienced as many as 60 to 70 rapes.[52]

After the atheist leader of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin received a complaint from Yugoslav politician Milovan Djilas about rapes in Yugoslavia, Stalin reportedly said that he should "understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometres through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle."[53] Also, when told that Red Army soldiers sexually assaulted German refugees, Stalin reportedly declared: "We lecture our soldiers too much; let them have their initiative."[48]

Atheist Rebecca Watson's claims about sexual harassment

See also: Elevatorgate

Post Elevatorgate controversy, at an atheist convention, Rebecca Watson claimed:

Hundreds of atheists have informed me that either they wanted to rape me, someone should rape me so that I will loosen up or that no one would ever rape me because I am so ugly".[54]

In addition, Watson declared: "I get regular rape threats. I get regular rape and murder threats".[55]

According to Rebecca Watson atheist women are often punished for being outspoken - particularly when they speak about feminism.[56] In August 2013, Watson said the harassment she received from male atheists skyrocketed after Elevatorgate.[56] Furthermore, she said she still receives harassment from male fans of Richard Dawkins.[56] The atheist feminist Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson concurs with Watson and says that sexual harassment has been institutionalized within the atheist movement and that atheist men have an investment in censoring, controlling and policing women and also have an investment in "male privilege".[56]

The inappropriate behavior that has been directed towards Rebecca Watson by atheists is not surprising. In February 2010, the news organization The Telegraph reported Richard Dawkins was "embroiled in a bitter online battle over plans to rid his popular internet forum for atheists of foul language, insults and 'frivolous gossip'."[57] In addition, Richard Dawkins has a reputation for being abrasive.

See also:

Dawkins says Elevatorgate incident was rather trivial

See also: Richard Dawkins and women and New Atheism and women

David Silverman took feminist Rebecca Watson off the speakers list for the Reason Rally after Richard Dawkins objected to her speaking at the event.[58]

On November 18, 2014, Richard Dawkins indicated that: he stands by his recent remarks about women/men relations, he feels muzzled by "thought police" and that Rebecca Watson's experience in the elevator was "rather trivial" compared to events some Muslim women experience.[59]

Specifically, the Washington Post reported on November 18, 2014:

“I don’t take back anything that I’ve said,” Dawkins said from a shady spot in the leafy backyard of one of his Bay Area supporters. “I would not say it again, however, because I am now accustomed to being misunderstood and so I will . “

He trailed off momentarily, gazing at his hands resting on a patio table.

“I feel muzzled, and a lot of other people do as well,” he continued. “There is a climate of bullying, a climate of intransigent thought police which is highly influential in the sense that it suppresses people like me.”

Recent criticism of Dawkins has come from women, many of them within the atheist movement, which has long drawn more men to its ranks. His online remarks, some women say, contribute to a climate they see as unwelcoming to female atheists...

“I concentrate my attention on that menace and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee or something which I think is, by comparison, relatively trivial,” he said.[59]

Atheism and marriage

See also: Atheism and marriage and Atheism and love and Atheism and interfaith marriages and Atheist marriages and Atheism and loneliness

Studies indicate that atheists are a minority in the population. Studies also indicate that people tend to marry people with similar values or who resemble their parents or themselves.[60] In addition, the Bible teaches Christians not to marry a non-Christian (The Bible also teaches a believer to stay married to a non-believer if you are already married).[61] Also, interfaith marriages often have greater marital friction and interfaith marriages historically have had higher rates of divorce.[62] Therefore, it would not be surprising if atheist/theist marriages also have increased marital friction and higher rates of divorce since these two worldviews are so different.

Given that atheism appears to be significantly less appealing to women, atheists are a minority in the population and that people tend to marry people with similar values or who resemble their parents or themselves; this would suggest that male atheists may find it more difficult to find prospective female partners for marriage. And of course, militant atheism might make matters even more difficult.

Atheism and rates of marriage in the United States

See also: Atheism and marriage

Christian apologist Michael Caputo wrote: "Recently the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has published its mammoth study on Religion in America based on 35,000 interviews... According to the Pew Forum a whopping 37% of atheists never marry as opposed to 19% of the American population, 17% of Protestants and 17% of Catholics."[63] See: Atheism and marriage

Pitzer College sociologist Phil Zuckerman said this about suicide rates: "this is the one indicator of societal health in which religious nations fare much better than secular nations." Please see: Atheism and depression and Atheism and suicide

According to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) over 50% of all atheists and agnostics don’t get married.[64] The fertility rate is significantly lower in the atheist population (see: Atheism and fertility rates).

Married people have lower suicide rates and the atheist population has a higher suicide rate than theists (see: Atheism and suicide).

Atheism, marriage and suicide

See also: Atheism, marriage and suicide and Atheism and loneliness

The atheist population has a higher suicide rate than theists (see: Atheism and suicide). Also, as indicated above, atheists have lower marriage rates (see: Atheism and marriage).

According to the website Marriage and Family Encyclopedia: "Marital status has a strong association with rates of completed suicide. Suicide rates are higher in the divorced and widowed than in single people, who in turn have higher suicide rates than married people. This protective effect of marriage on suicide is stronger for men than for women, although it is found for both men and women (Gove 1972)."[65]

Atheism, women and children

See: Atheism, women and children

Babies born to non-religious mothers in decline

See also: Atheism and fertility rates

Atheist women and sexuality

See also: Atheism and sexuality

Research indicates that religious women (especially evangelical/low church Protestant women) are more sexually satisfied than irreligious women.[66]

For more information, please see: Atheism and sexuality

Atheist feminism

See also: Atheist feminism

Annie Laurie Gaylor is an atheist feminist. She is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Gaylor’s husband, Dan Barker, who heads the organization along with her, is usually the person invited to speaking engagements, despite her longer tenure as the organization’s leader and her many books on atheism.[24]

Atheist feminism is a type of feminism whose advocates are atheists. It is extremely common for atheist feminists to see religion as the main source of sexism and oppression in the world (See: Atheist feminism and its view of religion).

Feminists who are theists often belong to religious bodies which practice liberal theology. In addition, some feminists practice goddess worship. Since atheism rejects theism, atheistic feminism rejects/disbelieves in the existence of God or gods (see: Definition of atheism).

Atheism, women, men and atheist feminism

Since most atheists lean left politically (see: Atheism and politics) many atheist women are feminists. However, feminism is not as prevalent among atheist men given that a significant majority of atheists are men and that the men's rights movement has many atheist men within it. Reddit is a popular place for atheists and a Reddit survey found that 94% of Men's Rights Movement supporters indicated that they had no religion (see also: Reddit atheism).[67] YouTube's most popular atheist is TheAmazingAtheist who is a men's rights activist. Another popular YouTube atheist Thunderf00t is very critical of feminism within atheism (See also: Atheism plus).


See also: Femen

Femen is a Ukrainian radical feminist activist group which is now based in Paris. According to the Washington Post, "Femen’s members consider atheism to be a fundamental tenet of the group’s ideology."[68]

Femen engages in topless publicity stunts/protests. Femen was one of the first radical feminist organizations to gain transnational media publicity.

Atheism and the sexual exploitation of women and children

The infamous pornographers Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt are both atheists.[70]

In 2003, Arena magazine magazine listed Flynt as #1 on the "50 Powerful People in Porn" list.[71] Flynt is paralyzed from the waist down due to injuries sustained from a 1978 assassination attempt by the serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin.[72]

For more information, please see: Atheism and pornography

Barna Group study

The Barna Group found that atheists and agnostics in America were more likely, than theists in America, to look upon the following behaviors as morally acceptable: pornography; obscene sexual behavior; illegal drug use; excessive drinking; sexual relationships outside of marriage; abortion; cohabitating with someone of the opposite sex outside of marriage and obscene language.[73]

For more information, please see: Atheism and pornography

Atheism and child pornography

See also: Atheism and child pornography

Historically, atheistic societies/individuals have played a significant role in the production and usage of child pornography (See: Atheism and child pornography)., feminism and web visitor interest in pornography

See also: RationalWiki and web visitor interest in pornography and Atheism and child pornography is a politically left leaning website that skews towards atheism/agnosticism in terms of its worldview.

RationalWiki tries to portray itself as a thinking person's wiki where the editors carefully analyze various matters. But data shows a significant portion of RationalWiki's web audience is interested in "adult" material as can be seen by the "adult" audience interests in the above graphic.

Atheists have played a significant role in both the production and consumption of pornographic material (See: Atheism and pornography and Atheism and child pornography).

Many feminists contend that pornography exploits women.[74] RationalWiki is a pro-feminism website.[75]

For more information, please see: RationalWiki and web visitor interest in pornography

Trustworthiness of websites linking to RationalWiki

According to the leading search engine optimization website Search Engine Land: "Citation Flow is a number of predicting how influential a URL might be based on how many sites link to it. Trust Flow is a number predicting how trustworthy a page is based on how trustworthy sites tend to link to trustworthy neighbors."[76]

As far as a website's domain, high authority and trustworthy websites commonly have their trustflow metric higher than their citation flow metric. As can been above, RationalWiki has the exact opposite. Perhaps its web visitors who visit adult websites link to RationalWiki from low quality websites that are untrusted.


See also: Elevatorgate and Richard Dawkins and women and Atheist leaders and immoral relationships and Atheist hypocrisy

Richard Dawkins
The Oxford University Professor Daniel Came wrote to the agnostic Richard Dawkins: "The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part."[77]

Elevatorgate is a term commonly used to describe a scandal involving Richard Dawkins' inappropriate comments made to fellow atheist Rebecca Watson. In 2011, Richard Dawkins was widely criticized within the atheist community plus criticized in various press outlets for his insensitive comments made to atheist Rebecca Watson about an incident that occurred in an elevator.[78] Specifically, Watson was propositioned after an atheist event in an elevator by a man who apparently was a fellow atheist during the early hours of the morning, and she was upset about the incident. Watson has written about widespread misogyny within the atheist community, and she has received threats of rape.[79]

Rebecca Watson's commentary about atheist conferences

Rebecca Watson post Elevatorgate wrote at Slate about atheist conferences:

[W]omen started telling me stories about sexism at skeptic events, experiences that made them uncomfortable enough to never return. At first, I wasn’t able to fully understand their feelings as I had never had a problem existing in male-dominated spaces. But after a few years of blogging, podcasting, and speaking at skeptics’ conferences, I began to get emails from strangers who detailed their sexual fantasies about me. I was occasionally grabbed and groped without consent at events.

I started checking out the social media profiles of the people sending me these messages, and learned that they were often adults who were active in the skeptic and atheist communities. They were reading the same blogs as I was and attending the same events. These were “my people,” and they were the worst.[80]

New Atheism movement and male/female conflict

See also: Feminist quotes about Richard Dawkins and Western atheism, schisms and political polarization

Within the militant New Atheism movement, there appears to be a significant amount of contention between men and women with complaints from women that there is a significant amount of misogyny within the atheist community and its leadership is too heavily populated with men.[81] This may partly explain why Western atheism is less appealing to Western women. In addition, the significant amount of contention between men and women may apply to Western atheism as a whole. As noted earlier, Wired magazine made the observation that atheists tend to be quarrelsome, socially challenged men.

Atheist PZ Myers comment about Richards Dawkins' attitude towards women

See also: Richard Dawkins and women

In 2014, Sam Harris said that atheist activism lacks an “estrogen vibe” and was “to some degree intrinsically male”. [82]

In 2014, the prominent atheist PZ Myers said of New Atheist Richard Dawkins' attitude towards women: "At a time when our movement needs to expand its reach, it’s a tragedy that our most eminent spokesman has so enthusiastically expressed such a regressive attitude.”[83]

Sam Harris and charges of misogyny

Like his fellow new atheist Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris has raised the ire of feminists.[84]

In 2014, Harris said that atheist activism lacks an “estrogen vibe” and was “to some degree intrinsically male”.[85]

On October 3, 2014, Salon magazine published an online article titled, "Atheism’s shocking woman problem: What’s behind the misogyny of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris?"[86] On September 20, 2014, the feminist blogger Libby Anne wrote an article entitled "Is Sam Harris sexist?"[87] Atheist Sam Fincke wrote a piece entitled "On Sam Harris’s reply to feminist critics".[88]

In his defense, Harris published an article on his website titled, “I’m Not the Sexist Pig You’re Looking For”[89]

Sexual harassment at atheist conferences

See also: Sexual harassment at atheist conferences and Atheist conferences and Atheist scandals

A 2011 portrait of Rebecca Watson

In an article about why she won't be attending an atheist conference sponsored by James Randi, Rebecca Watson wrote:

Over the past several years, I’ve been groped, grabbed, touched in other nonconsensual ways, told I can expect to be raped, told I’m a whore, a slut, a bitch, a prude, a dyke,..a twat, told I should watch my back at conferences, told I’m too ugly to be raped, told I don’t have a say in my own treatment because I’ve posed for sexy photos, told I should get a better headshot because that one doesn’t convey how sexy I am in person, told I deserve to be raped – by skeptics and atheists. All by skeptics and atheists. Constantly.

This is quite obviously not a safe space for me or for other women who want to be free of the gendered slurs and sexual threats and come-ons we experience in our day-to-day lives. But apparently, DJ thinks I am lying about that, since apparently my feeling that the freethought community is not a safe space is “misinformation.” I should apparently put on a smile and pretend it doesn’t happen, because by reporting on my treatment, I am creating “a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe.”[90]

For further information, see: James Randi Educational Foundation former staff member on prominent atheists and misogyny

The Washington Post reported in 2012:

Other nontheists — both male and female — have shared stories of unwanted sexual attention at nontheist gatherings, including propositions for sex and unwelcome touching. Chatter has ranged from calls for more women to attend nontheist events to personal attacks on prominent female skeptics for discussing harassment...

The current hullabaloo can be traced to May’s Women in Secularism Conference, a first-of-its-kind gathering for nontheist women. On a panel examining feminism and nontheism, Jennifer McCreight, an atheist blogger, said women speakers at nontheist events warn each other privately about male speakers who make unwanted sexual advances.[91]

See also: Post-Elevatorgate anti-sexual harassment policies

Cancelled 2018 Global Atheist Convention controversy about women speakers

See also: 2018 Global Atheist Convention that was cancelled and Global atheism

After the actress and feminist author/commentator Clementine Ford was picked as a speaker as part of creating gender parity in atheist speakers to the 2018 Global Atheist Convention, it was reported that a substantial number of rape and death threats occurred on a Facebook page promoting the convention.[92]

Andrew Street wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald about the 2018 Global Atheist Convention that was cancelled:

Thus in recent times there has been a concerted, deliberate effort to overcome the not-inaccurate perception that atheism is exclusively a boys' club. And there has been predictable pushback from members of said community who are deeply concerned that this progressive attitude may yet expose them to dangerous levels of girl germs.

The latest example came on Tuesday when the upcoming Atheist Global Convention in Melbourne announced that feminist author and commentator Clementine Ford would be one of the speakers.

Predictably, this made a few people unhappy - but the venom levelled at Ford and the conference generally for daring to have a line up of speakers which approached gender parity was a shock.

And that's despite the moderators on the Facebook page making clear that "we have been deleting specific rape and death threats as they occur… there have been substantial numbers", just in case there was any doubt about the calibre of awesome dudes weighing in with their important opinions about the line up.[93]

The atheist Adam Lee wrote about Clementine Ford and the online hostility about her being a speaker at the 2018 Global Atheist Convention:

Even so, the sheer number of comments that had to be deleted for extreme rudeness, slurs, misogyny or outright threats of violence is a depressing commentary on how unenlightened the atheist community is.[94]

Atheist community hypocrisy: Muslim men misogyny vs. atheist men misogyny

See also: Atheist hypocrisy

In recent times, leftist atheists have put a lot of effort and focus into decrying the deplorable treatment of many Muslim women by Muslim men, yet the same degree of attention about the high amount of physical abuse atheist women endure at the hands of atheist men via domestic abuse and the other forms of abuse is not given nearly the same amount of import by many in the atheist community. See: Irreligion and domestic violence and Secular Europe and domestic violence.

For example, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was chosen to be the keynote speaker of the American Atheists convention in 2014 and in 2005 the secular left-leaning Time magazine named her one of the most 100 influential people in the world.[95] Yet, the women who point out misogyny in Western World atheism receive torrents of abuse (see: Atheism and sexism) and are not highly lauded by the atheist community to nearly the same degree.

Madalyn Murray O'Hair debate with Walter Martin

See also: Atheism vs. Christianity debates

Madalyn Murray O'Hair, founder of American Atheists, did poorly in her debate with Dr. Walter Martin[96] For example, when she claimed there were supposedly were contradictions in the Bible, Dr. Martin asked her to provide an example of one and Ms. O'Hair did not and could not offer even an alleged example of a Bible contradiction.[96] In addition, Ms. O'Hair was ill-prepared in terms of defending against the issue of atheism and mass murder.[96]

Fundraising and the gender imbalance within the atheist population

See also: Atheism and charity and Atheist fundraising vs. religious fundraising

According to Fortune magazine women donate more to charitable causes than men (see: Women donate more to charitable causes than men).

One of the key demographics that fundraisers often put some additional focus on is women because they give more.[97] As noted above, the atheist population has a gender imbalance and men significantly outnumber women in the atheist population.

The 21st century is expected to be a century of global desecularization and religious organizations significantly outperforming atheist organizations in fundraising will contribute to this matter (see: Atheist fundraising vs. religious fundraising and Causes of desecularization).

Atheist movement, women and a smaller base of major donors

Older women are a significant source of major donors for fundraisers. Due to the gender imbalance with the atheist population, the atheist movement has a smaller base of major donors (See: Atheist movement, women and a smaller base of major donors).

Atheism, women and the animal rights movement

See also: Atheism, women and the animal rights movement

Women atheist activists

American Millenials, atheism and religion

Atheism, women and romance novels

See also: Atheism and romance

According to a Nielson study commissioned by the Romance Writers of America, in 2014, women made up 82% of romance book buyers.[98]

As of May 20, 2016, as far as books, has 32 search results for the term "atheist romance".[99] See also: Atheism and romance

Contrastly, as of May 20, 2016, as far as books, has 38,859 search results for the term "Christian romance".[100]

RationalWiki's lack of appeal to a women's audience

See also: RationalWiki's lack of appeal to a women audience

According to the leading web marketing website, in January of 2023, RationalWiki's audience skewed heavily male.

In January of 2023, according to, 67.54% of RationalWiki's web visitors were male. This represented a slight increase in its male viewership from May of 2022 according to In May of 2022, according to, 66.36% of RationalWiki's web visitors were male (See: RationalWiki's lack of appeal to a women audience).

In 2022, RationalWiki contributors failed to launch a major initiative to recruit more women editors nor was there a major increase in RationalWiki content related to women's issues. Wikipedia has an article entitled Gender bias on Wikipedia. RationalWiki does not have an article entitled "Gender bias at RationalWiki".

Majority of audience is male

According to the leading web marketing website, the majority of traffic consists of males.

Despite the pro-feminism stance of Freethoughblogs it hasn't been able to attract a higher percentage of a female audience.

Further reading

See also


External links

Atheism and sexism:


  1. Multiple references:
  2. Khan, Razib (November 18, 2010). "Gene expression; Sex differences in global atheism, part N". Discover magazine website.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Myers, P.Z. (June 29, 2010). "The woman problem". Pharyngula [blog].
  4. AAI Position Statement - Gender Balance
  5. Khan, Razib (November 18, 2010). "Gene expression; Sex differences in global atheism, part N". Discover magazine website.
  6. Atheism and Feminism, Oxford University Press blog
  7. Khan, Razib (November 18, 2010). "Gene expression; Sex differences in global atheism, part N". Discover magazine website.
  8. Carter, Stephen L. (March 27, 2015). "The atheism gap". BloombergView.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Britt, Robert Roy (February 28, 2009). "Women more religious than men". Live Science website.
  10. Atheism and Feminism, Oxford University Press blog
  11. *Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics (Zuckerman, 2005)
  12. Fisher, Max and Dewey, Caitlin (May 23, 2013). "A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live". The Washington Post website.
  13. National Bureau of Statistics of China, Beijing, China
  14. Poston, L. D., & Glover, S. K., Too many males: marriage market implications of gender imbalances in China, 2005
  15. Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally', See the video on the web page
  16. Jacoby, Susan (August 16, 2012). "A woman’s place? The dearth of women in the secular movement". The Humanist website.
  17. Oppenheimer, Mark (October 15, 2010). "Atheists debate how pushy to be".
  18. MacDonald, G. Jeffrey (2011). "Atheists’ diversity woes have no black-and-white answers". Beliefnet.
  19. Hiring of Accused Atheist Leader Is Reminder That #MeToo Is Still Needed in Organized Atheism by Sikivu Hutchinson, Rewire News
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Engelhart, Katie (July 21, 2013). "From Hitchens to Dawkins: Where are the women of New Atheism?" Salon.
  21. ‘Women Atheists Are Genuinely Considered Monsters’ by Emma Green, The Atlantic
  22. A Portrait of America’s First Atheists by Timothy Larsen, Christianity Today, August 22, 2016
  23. The Church of the Churchless by Phil Zuckerman, Los Angeles Review of Books, March 19, 2017
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  25. Engelhart, Katie (July 21, 2013). "Atheism has a women problem". Salon website. Retrieved from Alternet/Belief.
  26. Lawrence Krauss on incest
  27. Jeffrey Epstein, Lawrence Krauss, and Firing your Heroes into the Sun" by Rebecca Watson
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  30. Winston, Kimberly (May 15, 2014). "Women in secularism: Got a problem with that?" Religion News Service. Retrieved from The Washington Post website.
  31. Leaving the Atheist Movement - New Focus for the Podcast by Wendy Marsman
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  40. Owen, James (August 10, 2006). "Evolution less accepted in U.S. than other Western countries, study finds [photo and caption]". National Geographic News.
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  42. Arkowitz, Hal and Lilienfeld, Scott O. (May–June 2010). "Are men the more belligerent sex? Men are more dangerous, but women can be just as aggressive". Mind. Retrieved from Scientific American website.
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  46. Ammi, Ken (2010 or bef.). "Atheism, the Bible, rape, and Dan Barker". True Freethinker website.
  47. Butt, Kyle, M.A. (2010). "God did not condone rape". Apologetics Press website.
  48. 48.0 48.1 Roberts, Andrew. "Stalin's army of rapists: The brutal war crime that Russia and Germany tried to ignore", Daily Mail, 24 October 2008. 
  49. History: 20th Century History: Marxism. Investigating Atheism. University of Cambridge (2008). Retrieved on July 17, 2014. “The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state.” See University of Cambridge.
  50. Statham, Dominic (September 6, 2011). "Britain needs God". Creation Ministries International website.
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    Heineman, Elizabeth (1996). "The hour of the woman: Memories of Germany's 'crisis years' and West German national identity". American Historical Review, vol. 101, iss. 2, pp. 354-395 reprinted in Schissler, Hanna, editor (2001), The Miracle Years: A Cultural History of West Germany, 1949–1968 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), ch. 1, p. 28. Preview retrieved from GoogleBooks archive.

    Kuwert, P.; Freyberger, H. (2007). "The unspoken secret: Sexual violence in World War II". International Psychogeriatrics 19 (4): 782–784. doi:10.1017/S1041610207005376. 

    Remme, Tilman (2007). World Wars: The battle for Berlin in World War Two. History. Retrieved on 10 December 2014.

    Westervelt, Eric (17 July 2009). Silence broken on Red Army rapes in Germany. Retrieved on 10 December 2014.
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  53. Applebaum, Anne (October 2012). Iron Curtain, The Crushing of Eastern Europe (New York, NY: Knopf Doubleday), p. 32.
  54. "PZ Myers and the art of shameless dishonesty" (July 5, 2012). YouTube video, 6:32, posted by Thunderf00t.
  55. "FreeThoughtBlogs and PZ Myers" (July 13, 2012). YouTube video, 15:41, posted by Thunderf00t.
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  58. Sarah (September 5, 2013). "My time with Richard Dawkins (or, Why you should never meet your idols)". Skepchick website. See Skepchick.
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  61. "What does the Bible say about household salvation?" (2007 or bef.) gotQuestions?org website.
  62. Shellnutt, Kate (June 14, 2010). "Interfaith marriages more likely to fail". [Houston]/Believe It or Not blog.
  63. Ammi, Ken (June 11, 2009). "Atheism". Creation Ministries International. Retrieved on July 19, 2014.
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  67. Confirmed: “Men’s Rights Activism” Is For Misogynists Without God, Raw Story
  68. Meet Femen, the ‘naked shock troops of feminism’ who greeted Trump with a topless protest in Paris, By Antonia Noori Farzan, Washington Post, November 12, 2018
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    • Flynt writes, "I have left my religious conversion behind and settled into a comfortable state of atheism": see the epilogue of Flynt, Larry and Ross, Kenneth (June 1, 2008). An Unseemly Man: My Life as Pornographer, Pundit, and Social Outcast.
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    • Gottesdiener, Laura (February 23, 2010). "10 celebs you didn't know were atheists". Salon.
    • Flynt writes, "I have left my religious conversion behind and settled into a comfortable state of atheism": see the epilogue of Flynt, Larry and Ross, Kenneth (June 1, 2008). An Unseemly Man: My Life as Pornographer, Pundit, and Social Outcast.
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    • Flynt, Larry and Ross, Kenneth (June 1, 2008). An Unseemly Man: My Life as Pornographer, Pundit, and Social Outcast, pp. 170–171.
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  74. Feminist Perspectives on Sex Markets, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, October 6, 2020
  75. RationalWiki - Feminism
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  85. Tomlinson, Heather (September 17, 2014). "Atheist writer Sam Harris faces backlash over 'estrogen vibe' comments". Christianity Today website/Society.
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  88. Fincke, Daniel (September 16, 2014). "On Sam Harris’s reply to feminist critics". Patheos/Camels with Hammers blog.
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  92. Why do public atheists have to behave like such jerks by Andrew Street, The Sydney Morning Herald, June 21, 2017
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  97. 3 Target Demographics to Boost Nonprofit Fundraising and Engagement Results in 2013
  98. Romance Reader Statistics
  99. Atheist romance - Amazon
  100. Amazon - Christian romance