I often hear others discussing how the US is becoming more non-religious. Atheists want to use this as some sort of positive statistic where atheism will eventually become more accepted. I don’t think this at all.
It’s true that the number of non-religious have risen over the past decade but non-religious doesn’t directly translate to non-belief. All being non-religious indicates are that people do not affiliate when any particular doctrine. Here’s a survey from Pew published last year indicating there are a lot of religious nones, but many of the same say they are spiritual. So these people tend to be in some higher power, just not in the way that has been traditionally accepted.
Another survey, again by Pew, I think bodes better for atheists as now a majority believe it’s unnecessary to believe in god to be moral or have good values. So why are atheists the least trusted group in America? Why are we viewed no better than rapists?
For some reason identifying as an atheist is toxic. When we’re on the same level, or lower than rapists, then there’s a problem of perception by the general public.
It may be that some atheists are more strident in their rejection of religious values. But that would be making a generalization about a group based on a few people that identify in that group. We’re so small a segment of society that I really can’t see anything like that having a huge impact. I’d think that if anything, we’re mostly ignored by the public. I don’t know of anyone that have ever considered atheism as a threat to their beliefs or values.
What, if anything are atheists able to do about this perception? Probably nothing. All I think we can do is continue to live our lives the best we’re able to and hopefully in the future people will see that in essence, atheists are no different than they are, with one notable exception.