April 21, 2009

Why is the Atheist Movement so White?

Forte' back in 1992 - From Left to right: Aldo...Image via Wikipedia

There are certainly non-White atheists, including a couple prominent ones such as Friendly Atheist and the Infidel Guy, but the modern day atheist movement seems very White to me. I am aware of the statistics showing that religiosity tends to be more common among African Americans than U.S. Whites, but I'm less clear about how other groups compare. I also wonder if such between-groups differences are large enough to explain the under-representation of racial and ethnic minorities in the atheist movement. If there are other relevant factors, what might they be? Any ideas?

This is mere speculation on my part, but I wonder if minority group members tend to view atheism as a less important part of their identity than do White atheists. For example, I wonder if more White atheists may place "atheist" ahead of "White" in prioritizing the various components of his or her identity whereas African American atheists are more likely to place "African American" ahead of "atheist." I suppose another way to say this would be to suggest that atheism would be a more salient source of bigotry for Whites than for non-Whites for whom race might be even more salient than atheism.

Any other theories, or is my observation about the under-representation of minorities in the atheist movement simply wrong?

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