better to believe something than nothing (opinions of atheists in america)

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released a poll last month gauging religious perceptions in the United States.  As can be predicted, Americans generally held very negative opinions of Muslims and Mormons, but I noticed one group that rated lower than either:  Atheists.

I shouldn’t be surprised because the general American population is given to paranoia, xenophobia, racism and downright ignorance, but the ranking of atheists at the bottom of the list shows the extreme level of religiosity in this country.  While the survey-takers were clearly asked about their knowledge of Islam and Mormonism (which was admittedly low), they weren’t asked about their knowledge of atheism.  According to a Harris Poll conducted a couple of years ago, 82% of Americans believe in “God”, 70% in heaven, and 60% believe in hell and a “Devil”.

 I think this can partly explain American hatred of those of us who profess no belief in superstition and mythology, but I think most of it comes from decades of anti-communist, Cold War rhetoric in which the Believing Folks of America had to defeat the Unbelieving Folks of the USSR.  The Cold War has ended, but mistrust of unbelievers hasn’t.

From the looks of these poll results, it appears the fascist instigators of the post-9/11 world of terrorism and Islam have been doing a pretty good job of eventually getting Americans to replace “atheists” with “Muslims” on their scale of most hated people.

 Go to fullsize image

I guess for the American population, it’s better to believe in something than nothing.  If you can’t be pigeon-holed, categorized and compartmentalized for the ease of non-thinkers, you’re a pretty scary person indeed.


~ by free71 on October 1, 2007.

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