Study claims atheists in the US are the most distrusted minority group

A research by the department of sociology in the University of Minnesota claims that Atheist are the most distrusted minority group in America.

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.

I’d really like to see some more technical info about this study. Sociology isn’t exactly my field, but this thing is just so strange that I have a very strong feeling they haven’t done something, or quite a few things, right.

Starting with the poll. Telephone sampling? For these type of questions? How exactly does that work?

Imaginary phone call:

Q: Hi. I’m calling from the department of sociology in the University of Minnesota. Can I please ask you a few questions for a research project we’re having?

A: Sure, go ahead.

Q: Would you say Muslims share your vision of American society?

A: What? Those terrorists?! Heck, no!

Q: How about recent immigrants?

A: Yeah, coming to steal our job with their cheap labor. Sure they share my vision of American society. Land of opportunities, right?

Q: What about gays and lesbians, do they share your vision of American society?

A: Those darn *censored*?! No way! They should get their head examined, and go find themselves a good woman. Err… Except for those lesbo *censored*, they should go find themselves a good man. No way they share my vision of American society!

Q: I see, sir. What about atheists then?

A: Atheists?

Q: Yes, atheists. How much do you think they share your vision of American society?

A: Those dumb *censored* don’t even notice that God exist. Even those crazy *censored* Muslims knows God exist, even if they have this funny name for him, and they don’t have a clue what he wants them to do. But the atheists, they don’t even believe there’s a God. I don’t want to live in an America where people can deny God. This is a shame. They should all be shot the damn *censored*, before they ruin America for all of us. And it would be fun to see the look on their face when they realize that they do have immortal souls, and that they got sent to hell because they’re dumb *censored*.

Q: I see, sir. And how do you think are they in comparison to gays and lesbians? You expressed dissatisfaction with both minority groups. Can you say which one do you think is further from sharing your vision of American society?

A: Are you *censored* kidding me? There’s no question! Compared to a *censored* atheist I’ll take a lesbo any time. Heck, I’d marry a lesbo before letting one of those atheist creeps through the door. I’ll have my daughter marry a lesbo, a lesbo named Muhammed even, if it was that or marry an atheist!

Q: Thank you very much sir, you’ve been a great help.

A: You’re most welcome. God bless you, dear.

How does one even start such a conversation? Calling people and asking them who share their vision of American society more? Heck, who will seriously answer someone asking them a question like that on the phone?

And I’d really want to know who they asked in order to surmise the answers they got are representative of the entire US population. Spread evenly across states, or by population size? All states, or selected states? Large cities, or small desolate towns? On a question like this I think they’ll find very big variations, so not controlling for a lot of factors, or separating the data sets, is problematical.

I also really don’t think that their idea of comparing these “minority” groups is sound, if that’s really the way they did it. I mean, comparing atheist to gay people? WTF?! Didn’t it occur to anyone that maybe some of those gay people are not exactly good Christians, and are not spending their lives being worried if they’re really going to hell for breaking some obscure biblical verses?

I’m not saying gay people can’t be, or aren’t, religious. But we get lots of press from religious figures going on and on about how being a homosexual is an abomination unto god and so on. Stand to reason that the gay people at least don’t follow those specific streams.

There will be a correlation. Which makes a question about preferences very complicated. Did they ask more specific questions about lesbian Muslims, lesbian Christians, and lesbian atheists?

The press release actually mentions “other minority groups”. The possibilities for interactions here are immense. Second-generation Puerto-Ricans are probably a minority group, but nothing stops them, or any other minority memeber, from being gay, or from being a Muslim or an atheist.

So claiming atheists are the most distrusted, compared to other groups which contain atheists… Doesn’t sound too good to me.

Also, with the amount of prejudiced people around, I have a hard time believing that most Americans will be happier having their kids marry Black/Hispanic/Muslim/Wiccan/Gay/etc, or a combination thereof, before marrying an atheist. My belief is of course meaningless from a statistical standpoint. But a sample size of merely 2,000 people can’t be that much more significant.

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 study’s lead researcher.

I was also surprised by that 3 percent figure. I know most Americans are religious, but I didn’t think it was by that high a majority. Though it’s important to notice that they very probably don’t include agnostics here. Still, the way they define Atheist for the research can have quite an effect. A pity they don’t make it more clear on this press release.

And being a threat to the American Way of Life(TM)? Did they really get that without asking extremely leading questions?

Oh, well, what do I know? I’m probably just a *censored* atheist myself, most of the time.

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