Are Atheists Really Diverse?

I was just perusing a short essay from my friend vjack over at Atheist Revolution. The essay had to do with the diversity within atheism and celebrated how, although we may all have a single non-belief in gods, that in other ways we are very diverse. Personally, I don’t see it and even though Jack admits that a majority (in fact, at least 90%) lean to the political left, that we have other beliefs/views that make us diverse, like a belief in ancient aliens, ghosts, etc. Those same beliefs may be found in the general population and I don’t think can be used to show how diverse atheists are.

By using that reasoning, it could be said that the majority of atheists are also politically diverse because some support the ideology of the establishment left wing while others support the more radical ideas of Bernie Sanders and still others are supporters of whatever the Green Party happens to believe. Of course the same might be said for those atheists that claim to be conservative. It could be said that atheists are very ideologically diverse using this model or, because many of the ideas within each faction overlap (e.g. education, healthcare) that they are essentially the same.

Although ideological diversity should be important to atheists (it’s not), racial diversity should be even more important so that the accusation of atheism being a Whites-Only Club may be dispelled. It’s certain from polls that most atheists are indeed White and very few are Black, Hispanic, or Asian. In fact so 8 in 10 blacks in America claim to be Christian. Although religiously unaffiliated seem to pace with the overall population only around 1% of Blacks claim to be atheist or agnostic. Almost the same for Hispanics (77% Christian ) with around 2% saying they are atheist or agnostic.

If we look at all unaffiliated (around 22% of the population) and claim to be atheist/agnostic, we find that 82% of those are white, where just 3% are black and 6% hispanic. Atheism does have a diversity problem beyond ideological: racial. When 13% of the total population is black, and 16.7% hispanic, it would be reasonable to think that with the decline in religious belief, that there would be many more atheists/agnostics. That the numbers haven’t risen in any significant way is troubling prompting the question: Why can’t atheism attract a more racially diverse constituency? It’s not a new question and in fact, as recently as 2014 in The Washington Post was saying that yes, atheism has a race problem. It’s a staggering condemnation of atheism in America. The bottom line for the author was, when all the issues with, especially black Americans, were brought to the attention of atheist and humanist organizations:

But when we look to atheist and humanist organizations for solidarity on these issues, there is a staggering lack of interest

That’s a huge slap in the face, isn’t it? It seems that no one is concerned with actual diversity, although we hear about it at times. There’s not a single organization, that I know of, that is looking at increasing it’s numbers with non-whites. Not that they’re targeting just whites, but they don’t seem to be making any special effort otherwise.

If we really want to brag about our diversity as atheists, we need to be accepting to other ideologies as well as make an effort for those non-white nones to measure atheism differently.

2 thoughts on “Are Atheists Really Diverse?

  1. Who really cares if I am a member of a not-so-diverse non-group of atheists? I guess I am a member of the followers of this blog and of Jillian Becker’s blog, but that is about it. I guess I am a member of my family, who are nearly all atheists. As groupings of humans go, black communities are not very racially or ideologically diverse, nor are brown communities, jewish communities, muslim communities, Italian communities, Irish communities. Atheists are sort of outcasts of all of these. Why should we try to include more diverse members into our unwanted and loosely bound together group? “Peoples is peoples.” And, atheist peoples are just peoples that have no deity belief. So that makes us in that respect as diverse as the whole of humanity is diverse.

    This whole matter is nothing to worry over.

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  2. since most, if not all, theists are atheists, atheists are quite diverse. Now, if you mean someone who believes in NO gods at all, like me, then I do think we trend liberal and white.

    However, there are plenty of conservative atheists, wannabee nazi atheists, etc. They are all over the internet.

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