You may have heard that the country is run by godless heathens or that there’s a War on Christianity™ breaking out all over America. The exact opposite is true. Atheists are the only group which anywhere near a majority of the country thinks so poorly of that they wouldn’t even want one married into their family.
This unfortunate but unsurprising conclusion comes from a long-running Pew survey of political polarization in America. They first measured respondents ideological status, ranging from Consistently Conservative to Consistently Liberal and everywhere in between. They then asked questions about whether you’d want to live near or have a family member marry someone of various ideological or demographic categories, and also about basic policy positions.
Among these categories, the largest plurality of people who wouldn’t be happy with a family member marrying a member of a certain group was for atheists. And it’s not even close. Nearly a majority (49%) of people would be unhappy with a non-believer marrying into their family. The next highest group is gun owners at 19%.
This isn’t the first time this kind of inherent distrust of atheists has been found. Another Pew poll measured whether certain characteristics would make people more or less likely to vote for a presidential candidate. The thing that would make the largest number of people less likely to vote for someone? Atheism.
A clear majority (53%) say a presidential candidate’s lack of belief in a supernatural being would make them less likely to vote for them. To demonstrate how absurd that is, only 35% said a candidate’s extramarital affair would scare them off, and even fewer (27%) said a candidate being gay would lose their support.
While some theorize that we may have already had an atheist President (and Pope!) and others a gay one, openly running for office as either one is exceedingly rare, and only one of the two is likely to harm his (or her) chances.