Pew: Most Americans Have an Unfavorable View of Atheists

JANUARY 30: A man in a Atheist tee shirt listens as Republican presidential candidate Jeb
Joshua Lott/Getty

While Americans hold a favorable view of most religious groups, they have a negative view of atheists, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.

In its poll released on March 15, Pew found that nearly a quarter (24 percent) of Americans hold a very or somewhat unfavorable view of atheists, while just one in five (20 percent) hold a very or somewhat favorable view of non-believers.

“Atheists have negative feelings about Christian groups in the U.S., and the feeling tends to be mutual,” Pew noted in its poll released on March 15.

For their part, atheists feel “overwhelmingly negative” toward evangelical Christians, Pew found, with more than three quarters (79 percent) expressing unfavorable views, compared with only 3 percent who express positive views.

Atheists also are more negative than positive toward Catholics, mainline Protestants, Mormons, and Muslims, Pew revealed.

St. Paul, Minnesota, billboard saying that atheists also vote too. (Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty)

The new survey asked respondents whether their views toward various religious groups are very favorable, somewhat favorable, neither favorable nor unfavorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable; respondents also had the option of saying they “don’t know enough to say.”

Democrats tend to have a much more favorable view of atheists than Republicans. Among Democrats and Democrat leaners, 24 percent have a positive view of atheists while only 16 percent have a negative view. Among Republicans and Republican leaners, by contrast, a full 35 percent hold a negative view of atheists, while just 10 percent have a positive view of atheists.

The group that fared best overall were Jews, with thirty-five percent of poll respondents saying they have a somewhat or very favorable view of Jews, while a mere 6 percent said they had an unfavorable view. Fifty-eight percent of people said they had neither.

Protestants also had a net favorability rating of 20 points, and Catholics had a net favorability rating of 16 points.

The two religious groups with a net unfavorable rating were Muslims and Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints). Just 17 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Muslims, compared with 22 percent who have an unfavorable view.

Mormons received a net unfavorability rating of 10 points. Among all Americans, 25 percent have a very or somewhat unfavorable view of Mormons, while 15 percent hold a very or somewhat negative view.

Only 43 percent of Americans personally know a Mormon, however, the smallest percentage of any group.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.