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Why Are Atheists The Most Mistrusted Group In America?


Major Tom
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You know? For some reason I just don't give a fuck what other people think of me as an Atheist (technically Atheistic Agnostic) and I likewise tend to not give a shit what other Atheists think. I mean, isn't that the whole point of self-actualization? That you be yourself? That you be true to yourself? Now, I know some here might say "Well you never had to suffer the consequences of trying to be yourself...yada yada yada" But you see I did have to suffer the consequences of trying to be myself, and that effort to self actualize and escape a 1 dimensional copy of the cult leader's personality very nearly cost me my life several times. So I am not talking out of my ass here.

 

My point is, if Atheists are the most mistrusted group in America I could give a fuck less. Over time the Christians will learn to give a fuck less too, whether they like it or not. While I am outspoken there are many atheists who agree with these sentiments: Why should it matter? Of course there are many who will disagree, and that's fine. Just stating an opinion.

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I think it might only really matter if you're an atheist that's running for a political position or when believers deny atheists equal rights, but otherwise I agree that I couldn't care less what Christians think of me.

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It's the whole do not trust anyone who is not like us. Christians would partially trust a Muslim or a Jew (place religion name here) because they at least believe in a deity, but since atheist do not believe in a deity, theist will not trust them. It really is the tribal mentality.

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It's the whole do not trust anyone who is not like us. Christians would partially trust a Muslim or a Jew (place religion name here) because they at least believe in a deity, but since atheist do not believe in a deity, theist will not trust them. It really is the tribal mentality.

 

And also, I suspect, because people are pretty much hardwired to compartmentalise things. That's the way we build our understanding of the world. We like things to be predictable (although some of us find uncertainty exhilarating!)

 

From the point of view of a Christian, at the very least they can say that Jews and Muslims believe in the same god, more or less, so their views on certain issues are likely to be fairly similar. They can't say that about an atheist.

 

Of course, the next thing to happen is that they make the mental leap to decide that all atheists must necessarily be immoral because they have no external dictator to tell them what to think. It doesn't occur to many religious types that in fact an atheist may have much stronger moral convictions than most believers, and values that run deeper than "God said I should."

 

And goodness knows it would be far too much trouble (and maybe even - *gasp* -sinful!) to talk to an atheist and actually find out what they think. Much easier to tar them all with the same brush and dismiss them all out of hand.

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My dad's functionally agnostic but he thinks that Atheists (capital 'A', self-applied) are elitist assholes.

 

When I told him that I'd deconverted, it was no skin off his back. "Hell, I thought you'd done it years ago. Didn't know it was just one year ago." But then he said "don't turn into one of those assholes. God, I can't stand those guys!"

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My dad's functionally agnostic but he thinks that Atheists (capital 'A', self-applied) are elitist assholes.

 

When I told him that I'd deconverted, it was no skin off his back. "Hell, I thought you'd done it years ago. Didn't know it was just one year ago." But then he said "don't turn into one of those assholes. God, I can't stand those guys!"

 

There is some truth to that, I think. People who feel more enlightened than others and therefore feel they are superior usually wind up being aholes, no matter what they believe.

 

I think the general distrust towards atheism is that somewhere along the line people started thinking you needed religion to have a moral compass. As if you won't have a world view that includes treating others decently or caring about those in need.

 

It takes time to build that kind of stereotype, but that's exactly what it is, a stereotype. Freddy

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Maybe the reasoning of many believers goes a little something like this...

 

:sing:

If you disrespect God.

You disrespect morality.

If you disrespect morality

you disrespect society.

 

God, morality, society

God, morality, society

God, morality, society

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My dad's functionally agnostic but he thinks that Atheists (capital 'A', self-applied) are elitist assholes.

 

When I told him that I'd deconverted, it was no skin off his back. "Hell, I thought you'd done it years ago. Didn't know it was just one year ago." But then he said "don't turn into one of those assholes. God, I can't stand those guys!"

I think this is a really good point. When I first deconverted, I wandered around in agnosticism for awhile before accepting atheism. One of the reasons why I did was because I had this misunderstanding that I thought atheists were just as dogmatic and closed minded as fundamentalists and I didn't fully understand what atheism was and I didn't want to wind up in another fundamentalist view after already escaping one. I think a lot of mistrust of atheism is because atheism is still misunderstood in mainstream society and people fear what they don't understand.

 

Many people conjure up images of communism and Nazism when you mention the word atheist to them or they think atheists are all militant jerks. It was the same way with the LGBT community where people used to have a lot of negative misconceptions of them but people kept coming out of the closet and educating people with the facts. While the LBGT community still faces a lot of bigotry, there's been more progression in society because people didn't stay silent and spoke the truth. I think if more atheists came out of the closet and started educating the public about what atheism is more people would have less of a reason to fear it.

 

Of course, some people will always fear anything that doesn't agree with their preconceived beliefs because they're shallow like that. Interestingly, there was an episode of the Reasonable Doubts podcast awhile back where they were discussing a survey that was the most comprehensive study on non-believers and theists' perceptions of them. One of their findings was that theists felt less threatened by agnostics than they did atheists. The reasoning was that agnostics were perceived to be more open to the idea of God, so they were seen as being more of a potential convert whereas they saw no hope for the atheists and perceived atheists as being closed-minded. Basically theists mistrusted us because there's no hope we'll ever convert. Here's a link to the podcast: http://www.doubtcast.org/podcast/rd32_profiles_of_the_godless.mp3

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I think a lot of mistrust of atheism is because atheism is still misunderstood in mainstream society and people fear what they don't understand.

 

I think that this is the main reason. A lot of people don't trust what they don't understand, and atheists are among the most misunderstood people, in my opinion.

 

I know that when I was a christian, I had serious misconceptions about atheists, but now that I'm agnostic and have read and listened to atheists with an open mind, I realize how wrong my former view was. Unfortunately, it seems that one just about has to make the leap into the realm of freethinkers in order to understand atheists, and unfortunately most religious people don't fall into that category.

 

But it goes both ways. I believe that most who are raised atheist and never get into religion don't really understand the religious mindset either. This is where we who have shifted from a devout religious standing to atheist/agnostic/deist probably largely have a better grasp on both sides than those who have only been on one side.

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I think a lot of it stems to a morality thing. The reason I say this is because the other day my boss and I were discussing morality vs religion a bit. She (a well educated, smart woman) seems to be convinced that morality comes from religion - be it real or not, and that we'd all just run around with no morals without that compass. Although I presented an arguement against what she was saying, I don't think I ever fully convinced her.

 

So my guess is that if she can have that impression, so can a majority of people - even if they don't follow a religious code, someone who claims to have no guiding code outside of themselves must automatically be immmoral. I don't get why it's so ingrained, but it seems to be.

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When I was a Christian I viewed Atheists and Neo-Pagans as being rather smug and self-congradulatory, as if they were part of some intellectual/spiritual avant-garde, a substantial cut above all the unthinking sheep.

 

Another thing that used to piss me off was the term "freethinking." By the time I deconverted I had a Master's degree in an esoteric field to my name and was two years into my PhD. Not to sound like a hypocritical asshole (or maybe, well... oh, fuck it), but I could mosey on down to any coffee house and run intellectual circles around most self-described freethinkers. And I was a Christian. Now, I know what the term "freethinking" refers to (the old Socratic "question everything" no matter how sacred), but it really did irk me back then.

 

Most times that I encountered someone describing themselves as a "freethinker", I took that to mean that I was by contrast considered a "sheep" by that person. Well, okay, I guess the shoe fit, but still, y'know? Most of the time it was like some chubby guy with a broadsword at the Renn Faire thinking he was more of a warrior than a Navy SEAL just because his choice of weapon is more "noble" than a rifle. That's why I refuse to use the term "freethinker" now that I'm an agnostic myself.

 

Yes I know I come off as a hypocritical asshole, but that was and is my perspective.

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I'm often surprised by the number of Xtians I know who believe that atheists have shrug off their moral compass so that they can indulge themselves. It's really quite fascinating.

 

I suppose that a lot of religious people think that criminals, adulterers, drug dealers, gangsters, and *omg* LIBERALS are all "atheists". That's right, they would prefer an embezzler/fraud artist who has now "reformed" with the "Lord" than an ordinary intelligent atheist humanist running for office.

 

Ask them.

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There's probably not very many Atheists in prison. In the United States, Atheists tend to skew towards affluent and educated. Whereas many prisoners, even if they haven't set foot in church since they were kids and are nasty SOBs, probably haven't really thought to shed their religious baggage at any point.

 

Also, in a lot of cases it's a cultural thing. I always think of the Mexican Mafia assassin with a giant "La Virgen" tattoo on his back who genuflects every time he drives by a Catholic church, or the black gangster who has fond memories of being taken to church by grandma and who respects the local preacher, or the redneck who was driving around with a plastic Jesus on the dashboard of his pickup before he got locked up for assault and battery. They don't go to church unless there's a BBQ or their nephew is getting baptized, and when it boils down to it could give a shit about what the Bible says to do and not do, but they have a neutral or even somewhat reverent view of their respective culture's traditional religion.

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I'm often surprised by the number of Xtians I know who believe that atheists have shrug off their moral compass so that they can indulge themselves. It's really quite fascinating.

 

I suppose that a lot of religious people think that criminals, adulterers, drug dealers, gangsters, and *omg* LIBERALS are all "atheists". That's right, they would prefer an embezzler/fraud artist who has now "reformed" with the "Lord" than an ordinary intelligent atheist humanist running for office.

 

Ask them.

You have probably read the poll/thread about leaving Christianity and it being "Party Time". I found that thread insulting, and the insinuation that my morals changed drastically when I became an atheist was, at best, incorrect. The choices in the poll also did not include an option for "my morals did not change."

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You have probably read the poll/thread about leaving Christianity and it being "Party Time". I found that thread insulting, and the insinuation that my morals changed drastically when I became an atheist was, at best, incorrect. The choices in the poll also did not include an option for "my morals did not change."

 

You missed the point. It wasn't supposed to insinuate anything, it was intended for people to relate their experiences. And they did. Some people found it rather illuminating. If I neglected to put "my morals did not change" or something effectively equivalent, then it was a simple mistake, because I remember intending to.

 

And besides, what's so bad about having a little fun once the shackles are off? I mean I really took that shit seriously when I was in it; too seriously. I have Asperger's Syndrome and we can be pretty rigid, and are prone to following rules to a pathological fault. It was killing my already fragile mental health, especially the "no sex" part.

 

And now, I ask you all: why should we care what those Christians think about what we do? Are we trying to impress them with our good behavior? I never smoked weed until after I deconverted, and I've only done it a few times, but after the first time I got really stoned I thought " fuck them all, they can kiss my ass." And they can. Repeatedly. While three bowls of five-alarm Texas chili are rotting away in my lower intestine.

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The Bible tells Xians that atheists are evil, so the Bible said it, that settles it.

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No, it tells them that "only a fool doesn't believe in God." Of course, they probably presumed that such a fool would believe in the other gods floating around in that little corner of the world. While there was one famous example of an atheist in ancient Athens who was forced to recant (I forget his name), the notion of atheism was all but inconceivable.

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When I told my wife that I was done with Christianity.....she cried a little and asked me "What does that mean?". She was wanting to know what difference it was going to make. I told her none. Although I wouldn't be going to church any longer and I wasn't going to be a party to the underlying bigotry, and fear mongering of the church any longer. She thought I would open myself up to an "anything goes" mentality. Hell, I'm as moral as I've ever been....in regards to how subjective it is. Freddy

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  • Super Moderator

Atheists are mistrusted because we are feared. Feared because we question authority and the status quo. We have independent thoughts. We are different, and little to no effort is spent to understand us.

 

Also, we eat babies.

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Atheists are mistrusted because we are feared. Feared because we question authority and the status quo. We have independent thoughts. We are different, and little to no effort is spent to understand us.

 

Also, we eat babies.

 

That's totally bogus. I've eaten one baby and I didn't even like it. So not all of us, like to eat babies. Freddy

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Atheists are mistrusted because we are feared. Feared because we question authority and the status quo. We have independent thoughts. We are different, and little to no effort is spent to understand us.

 

Also, we eat babies.

 

 

All those reasons are probably the same reasons that devout Christians where mistrusted in the former Soviet Union.

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One of the things which hasn't been mentioned yet, although Florduh came at it obliquely, is that the mistrust is greatly exacerbated by so many professional mouthpieces for Christianity constantly hammering that mistrust home in the minds of the believers.

 

If that mistrust is a fire, those mouthpieces happily throw gas on it at every opportunity.

 

There are a great many who are drawn to being an authority figure in Christianity, not to serve the common good, but simply to be seen as an authority figure. Such people in any realm have never looked kindly on any who question authority and they seldom miss a chance to rally the troops against them, for god or country or the corporation or whatever their personal excuse might be.

 

Slander in the name of god and backed by the authority of god is a time-tested technique for them. Hey, it works. And it's easy.

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Guest I Love Dog

Atheists are mistrusted because we are feared. Feared because we question authority and the status quo. We have independent thoughts. We are different, and little to no effort is spent to understand us.

 

Also, we eat babies.

 

Now that I've eaten my first baby for the day.....Yumm!

 

I don't think that it's only atheists that are mistrusted by Christians, it's anyone who isn't a Christian that is mistrusted by them.

 

Christians are very egocentric, believing that their god and their religion is the only "right" one, when, let's face it, Christians only comprise 30%(and falling fast) of the World's population, in a democracy, how does that make them "right"?

 

I haven't yet met a Christian who allows that Hindus may be "right" and Christians wrong, or that Pagan gods may be the "true" gods" or that Buddhists have a valid belief system.

 

I have a Christian friend who told me that god sat alongside him in his truck. I asked "Which god?" and he said that there is only one god, to which I replied that there are thousands of gods, so which one was it? I asked how he knew it wasn't Wicca or Vishnu?

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