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Typical atheist: white son of religious parents
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service
December 08, 2010
2 MIN READ TIME

Typical atheist: white son of religious parents

Typical atheist: white son of religious parents
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service
December 08, 2010

WASHINGTON — The typical

member of a fast-growing atheist association is a highly educated, married

white male who grew up with religious parents.

The Freedom from Religion

Foundation, which grew from 5,500 in 2004 to about 16,000 members this year,

announced results of a survey of its members Dec. 1.

The Wisconsin-based

organization received nearly 4,000 responses to its survey, which was mailed to

all its members in May. Respondents replied to the nonscientific survey by mail

or online.

Asked about their primary

reason for being “deconverted from religion to freethought,” about a third of

respondents said “religion doesn’t make sense.” Seventeen percent said

religious hypocrisy or bigotry was the cause; 9 percent said reading skeptical

authors; 5 percent cited reading the Bible.

Most respondents said the

religious denomination they left behind was Protestant (42 percent), but 30

percent said they were raised Catholic and 27 percent were raised Jewish.

The overwhelming majority of

atheist respondents — 95 percent — are white, but foundation officials hope

that statistic will change.

“We’ve started to do more

outreach to the African-American and freethought communities of color, and

clearly, this is a great untapped source for new members who support reason and

secularism in this country,” said foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor.

She said the group’s

membership grew by 1,000 within a few weeks of an April decision by a federal

judge who sided with the foundation and declared the law creating the National

Day of Prayer unconstitutional.

Other findings from survey

respondents include:

  • 88 percent describe

    themselves as atheist, and 12 percent as agnostic

  • 43 percent are retired
  • 30 percent volunteer

    regularly

  • 24 percent are veterans
  • 11 percent are vegetarians
  • 9 percent are gay,

    lesbian, bisexual or trangender.