Atheist stereotypes

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An angry atheist speaking to a woman with a Bible in her hand.

The angry atheist who is angry at God and wants to destroy religion is a commonly held atheist stereotype.[1] See also: Atheism and anger

The Christian philosopher James S. Spiegel says the path from Christianity to atheism among several of his friends involved moral slippage such as resentment or unforgiveness.[2] See: Atheism and unforgiveness

A stereotype is a generalization or assumption about a group of people based on perceptions of the group's traits.

The website Mic indicates concerning atheist stereotypes:

Atheistdoes the word give you pause? Make your eyes narrow a bit? Conjure up images of immorality and pugnacious heathens? For a surprising number of Americans, the answer is still, well, yes.

According to data from a recent Pew study, while political polariziation is at its highest intensity in 20 years, the person Americans really don't want their family members bringing home for dinner is neither a Republican nor Democrat. It's someone who doesn't believe in God...

Here are seven of the more prominent, problematic stereotypes about atheists:

1. Atheists are pacifists who don't fight America's wars...

2. Atheists are all white men...

3. Atheists are immoral hedonists...

4. Atheists are arrogant and aggressive proselytizers...

5. Atheists are angry at God and want to destroy religion...

6. Atheists believe the universe is all a big coincidence...

7. Atheists want to ban Christmas.[3]

Thomas MacMillan wrote in his article Everyone’s Suspicious of Atheists — Even Other Atheists:

According to a new study published last week in Nature, people all over the world connect immorality with atheism. In fact, the moral prejudice against atheists is so strong that it holds even in countries like the Netherlands, where most people aren’t religious. Even atheists themselves, according to the study, are inclined to see nonbelievers as more wicked than the faithful.

“Entrenched moral suspicion of atheists suggests that religion’s powerful influence on moral judgements persists, even among non-believers in secular societies,” the authors wrote.

The study, led by University of Kentucky psychology professor Will Gervais, surveyed more than 3,000 people in 13 countries, including nations with Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and non-religious majorities: Australia, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.[4]

The abstract for the journal article How Do U.S. Christians and Atheists Stereotype One Another’s Moral Values? published in The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion indicates:

Moral conflict between Christians and atheists is becoming increasingly heated amidst the U.S. “culture wars,” yet research has been mostly silent regarding how these groups stereotype one another’s moral values and beliefs. We used moral foundations theory to better understand the nature of such stereotypes. In Study 1, U.S. Christian and atheist participants completed measures of moral values from their own perspective as well as the perspectives of typical atheists and typical Christians. Whereas atheists believed their ingroup endorsed fairness/justice values more than Christians, Christians believed their ingroup endorsed all moral values more than atheists. Moreover, both groups held (often extremely) inaccurate stereotypes about the outgroup’s values. In Study 2, participants wrote explicitly about outgroup morality. Atheists typically described Christians more negatively than Christians described atheists, regardless of the moral foundation of concern. Also, Christians’ negative impressions drew primarily from the Authority foundation, and both groups drew heavily from the Care foundation in both their positive and negative depictions. Implications for addressing the growing conflict between Christians and atheists in the United States are discussed.[5]

See also


External links


  1. Biggest Lies We Need to Stop Telling About Atheists, Mic
  2. Christian Philosopher Explores Causes of Atheism
  3. Biggest Lies We Need to Stop Telling About Atheists, Mic
  4. Everyone’s Suspicious of Atheists — Even Other Atheists by Thomas MacMillan
  5. How Do U.S. Christians and Atheists Stereotype One Another’s Moral Values? by Ain Simpson & Kimberly Rios, The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 2016