Bias Against Atheists

When I first looked at the headline I thought oh no they’ve documented that atheists aren’t as moral as other people. But when I kept on reading, the article talked about a finding that people believe that atheists aren’t as moral as people who are religious.  A study from psychology professors published in Nature Human Behavior journal  asked 3000 people from 13 countries across 5 continents  whether a person who tortured animals as a child before becoming a teacher and then went on to kill 5 homeless people was more likely to be a religious person or an atheist. Twice as many people thought that the killer was an atheist. The research finding documents that even in more secular countries atheists are perceived as dangerous and morally depraved. People in countries with a high number of religious believers like India, the United Arab Emirates or the Unites States are more likely to have, as the BBC article put it, an anti-atheists bias. The only countries that seemed to be free of such a bias were New Zealand and Finland. To be discriminated against for one’s religious beliefs—and non-belief is a belief—is wrong no matter who holds that prejudice or why they do. Prejudice as we know is based on ignorance, in this case on the idea that it takes a religious basis to form a moral code. More than one studies have shown that not to be so. It may unfortunately make sense that religious people hold that bias, perhaps making it all the more important for those of us who don’t to realize how wrong they are.  The atheists I know are all moral, giving, sharing, wonderful people. It’s time for this prejudice to come out of the shadows.