Atheist Discrimination in America. Real or Imagined

Lauren Gray Stogner


Do atheists and nonbelievers face discrimination in America? The purpose of this research is find out if atheists/nonbelievers face a significant amount of discrimination and whether they need a civil rights movement. This research was conducted by examining existing laws that specifically target nonbelievers/atheists, polls of the attitudes of the American public about nonbelievers/atheists, as well as cases of documented discrimination. This research also considers the level of representation that atheists and nonbelievers have on both the state and federal level. This research also delves into possible reasons behind the discrimination based off prior research and the theories of well-known scholars of atheism.

This research attempts to shed light on an under represented, but growing religious group. There have been several papers written on discrimination against religious minorities such as Muslims, Jews and Christians but the issues facing nonbelievers/atheists has been mostly ignored. PEW research in 2012 found that 20% of Americans are not religious and it is the fastest growing religious group in America (especially among millennials). This research has implications for the future of politics, religion and civil rights in America.

The conclusion of this research found that atheists/nonbelievers face a substantial amount of discrimination. They are tied with Muslims as the most hated religious group in America, seven states specifically ban them from holding public office, there are numerous reports of discrimination based off disbelief, and the American public holds mostly negative views on nonbelievers/atheists. The reason behind this conclusion could potentially be because of under representation, prejudices by the dominate religious group, and political/social norms.


Atheist, atheism, discrimination, civil rights, politics, religion

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