Why Aren’t More Women Atheists?

Personal Note: Sorry I’ve been gone so long. I had personal issues, then when I was back to normal my laptop and PC both refused to cooperate. I’ve got the laptop back now, so onward and (hopefully) upward!

One of the features of the atheist community that draws most criticism is that it’s largely made up of white males. The Pew Research Center put out these statistics about US atheists on 1 June 2016:

68% of atheists are men
The median age of atheists is 34 (the median age of the US population is 46)
78% of atheists are white (66% of the US population is white)
43% of atheists have a college degree (27% of US adults has a college degree)
69% are Democrats or lean Democrat
56% self-identify as politically liberal

Because of all that, especially the fact that women are much more likely to be religious, there’s an assumption that men are more liberal than women. The obvious personal distaste of so many women for President Trump has lead to the further assumption that women are only now turning against the Republican party.

Neither of these assumptions are actually accurate. Women turned away from the Republican party in the late 1970s and early 80s when the moral majority of President Reagan became a thing. The gender gap between men’s and women’s votes has been fairly consistent ever since.

Women, in general, do not like conservative policies. In particular, we don’t like the tendency or conservative politicians to tell us what we can and can’t do, especially with our bodies. We’re sick of men thinking they have the right to rule our lives.


Gender Gap in US Vote Choice 1972-2016

There has been a significant gender gap in voting preference in the US since the time of Ronald Reagan. Even though both men and women gave him their vote in larger numbers than his Democratic opponent, his appeal was much greater to men than women.

In simple terms, the majority of women almost always vote for the Democratic candidate. The majority of men almost always vote for the Republican candidate. The gap in party preference has been similar in most elections since 1980.

Whatever the issue, women are more liberal than men, or at least oppose legislating in a way that discriminates against women.


(Click graph to go to source.)


Inter-Racial Marriage

Richard and Mildred Loving in 1967.

Richard and Mildred Loving in 1967. (Source: Wikipedia)

In comparison to New Zealand, inter-racial marriage rates in the US are low. In fact, it wasn’t until 1967 that inter-racial marriage even became legal across the whole country due to the Supreme Court decision on Loving versus Virginia. (Inter-racial marriage has never been illegal in New Zealand.)

Fifty years on from the Loving vs Virginia decision, opposition to inter-racial marriage in the US in now very low. Still, almost twice as many men as women oppose it. The attitude of women to miscegenation is more liberal than that of men.


(Click graph to go to source.)



In another survey by the Pew Research Center (Where the Public Stands on Religious Liberty vs. Nondiscrimination) from August/September 2016, abortion as a moral issue looked at. In that survey, where only attitudes rather than the law were looked at, men and women were shown to have very similar attitudes:

1. Abortion is morally wrong: Men – 45%, Women – 43%

2. Abortion is morally acceptable: Men – 20%, Women – 18%

3. Abortion is not a moral issue: Men – 33%, Women – 35%

However, when it comes to the law it’s another matter. The main Supreme Court decision that allows women to obtain an abortion in the US is Roe vs. Wade. The data below shows that despite the fact that their attitudes are similar, women are less likely to want that law overturned. Women are less likely to want to force their opinion on others via the law than men. Again, they have the more liberal attitude.

Abortion: Roe vs. Wade

(Clink graph to go to source.)

Women are more likely to be pro-choice, whether or not we personally approve of abortion.

Despite what the men who make up the majority of Republican representation in US government think, most USians, including most Republicans, support the retention of Roe vs. Wade.

Overall, 69% of USians do not want the Supreme Court to overturn the decision that legalizes abortion in their country. Even amongst Republicans, a clear majority (53%) want to keep the law. The figure is overwhelming amongst Democrats – 84%.

The conservative wing of the Republican party are salivating  at the prospect of overturning Roe vs. Wade with the appointment of the ultra-conservative Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. If this occurs, it would be against the wishes of seven in ten of the population.

Abortion is another area where women’s opinion is generally more liberal than than of men. While 69% of men want to retain Roe vs. Wade, the figure is 72% for women.

The only demographic which has a majority that wishes to overturn Roe v. Wade is conservative Republicans (57%). Literally, a dying breed.



(Click graph to go to source.)

The GOP War on Women

The Elephant in the WombThere have always been men in politics on both sides of the aisle who, as individuals, treat women badly. For every Todd Akin there is an Anthony Weiner. The behaviour of such individuals is not the issue in the decision on whether there is a War on Women. The issue is the policy positions of the two parties, and there is only one that makes rules that single out women. The conclusion of a post I wrote just before the 2014 election, ‘Is the GOP’s War on Women Real?‘ was that yes, the war exists.

An example of this is the parties different approaches to the issue of abortion. The Democratic Party supports a woman’s right to choose. That doesn’t mean candidates have to be pro-abortion. Democratic vice-president Joe Biden (2008-2016) was openly against abortion. His position was largely informed by his Roman Catholic religious beliefs. However, he recognized that others did not necessarily share his beliefs and he didn’t have the right to force his beliefs onto others.

Many will remember Trump trying to ingratiate himself with Republicans by saying that a women who has an abortion should face punishment. He later withdrew the comment upon realizing that, once again, he’d got it wrong. However, US states in which Republicans control the legislature have been going out of their way to make it as difficult as possible for women to exercise their constitutional right. Several of these attempts have been struck down by the Supreme Court, even with a conservative majority.

Republican Party Platform on Abortion

The Republican Party platform on the other hand opposes abortion in all circumstances. Yes, ALL. Instead they want an amendment to the US constitution that recognizes the personhood of a foetus.

Their policies in relation to teen pregnancy and the incidence of STDs in the demographic is absolutely ridiculous stance:

… we support doubling abstinence education funding. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for contraception and abortion.

They really seem to believe that this will reduce teen pregnancy and the incidence of STDs, which flies in the face of all evidence.

Some Republican candidates will support abortion in the case of rape, incest, and the life of the mother, but in no other cases. How generous of them. (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)


In general, homosexuality is becoming more accepted in US society. Even the Jehovah’s Witness are up from 12% in 2007 to 16% in 2014! (Yes, more sarcasm.) Of course, most demographics do a lot better than 16%. Christians is general went from a majority in opposition (44%) to majority support in that same time (54%) according to the Pew Research Center.

Pew Research states in their report on their 2013 report ‘The Global Divide on Homosexuality’ that more women than men in the US are accepting of homosexuality. They do not state what the gender gap is except that it is less than 10%. Overall in the US, 33% of people say that society should not accept homosexuality and 60% say they should. This is lower than the acceptance rate in most Western European countries plus Canada (80%) and Australia (79%). Even the pope’s home country of Argentina does significantly better than the US at 74%.

New Zealand was not part of the survey, but Wikipedia has this to say about LGBT in New Zealand:

New Zealand society is generally fairly relaxed in acceptance of gays and lesbians. The gay-friendly environment is epitomised by the fact that there are several Members of Parliament who belong to the LGBT community, gay rights are protected by the New Zealand Human Rights Act, and same-sex couples are able to marry as of 2013.


(Click graph to go to source.)

Marriage Equality

Women are also more likely to be accepting of same-sex marriage than men. Women got to the point where a majority were in support of marriage equality in 2011. It took men until 2015 to reach that point. However, the good news is that both men (52%) and women (58%) now (2016) give majority support to marriage equality in the US.


Transgender Bathrooms

This is another area where women are more liberal than men in their views, and significantly so. According to the Pew Research Center, 55% of women think that “Transgender people should be allowed to use the public restrooms of gender with which they currently identify”. Only 45% of men feel this way.

Considering that those insist that they are trying to protect women and children with their ignorant attitudes on this subject, I find the statistics ironic.


(Click graph to go to source.)



(Click graph to go to source.)

I don’t know why more men than women are atheists. Women actually fit the profile better than men – we’re more liberal and these days we’re usually more educated too.

In New Zealand, more than 1.4 women have a university degree for every man that has one. That’s the highest difference between men’s and women’s education level in the Western world but still more men than women identify as having no religion here.

Overall in New Zealand in the 2013 census:

41.9% identified as having no religion

39.2% of women identified as having no religion

44.8% of men identified as having no religion

New Zealand women, like US women, are more likely to vote for more liberal political parties and generally have slightly more liberal attitudes. And, also like US women, we’re less likely to be atheists.

There are still, of course, significantly more women atheists in New Zealand (proportionately).

Why Less Women are Atheists: My Theories

My own theory is that it’s partly historical and partly down to the difference between men and women.

Women traditionally worked only in the home, especially after marriage. Therefore their social life outside home was Church. That’s where they got to meet other adults and where secondary interactions such as charity work came from. Their lives are more likely to intersect with the Church.

Men have always usually had a life outside the home. They were not as reliant on the Church as women.

Especially once they have children, which most women do, women simply do not have time to think about whether or not they believe in a higher power. Even now, most women do more when it comes to looking after the home and children even when both parents work full time. Like most others they are taught that as children, and just accept it without examining it.

Thirdly, although women are often better educated these days, there are still less women than men going into careers relying on education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). People educated in those subjects are more likely to be atheists than lawyers, for example, which is a career path that is becoming dominated by women.

On the whole though, I’m at a bit of a loss to explain it.

Maybe it’s just because despite the huge improvements in the last century, and especially the last forty years, women aren’t yet equal. There are plenty of wonderful men out there who treat women as equals. But for every Barack Obama, there’s a Donald Trump.



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93 Responses to “Why Aren’t More Women Atheists?”

  1. Ken says:

    Welcome back, Heather.

    That conservatives seek to deny contraception to women, thereby increasing the number of abortions, just goes to show that their agenda is not want they say it is.

    Re women and atheism, the difference is indeed baffling. The only additional perspective I can offer is Dan Dennett’s “belief in belief”, where some non-believers nonetheless think religion is net-positive for society, so perhaps don’t want to self-identify as atheist for that reason. But I’ve no idea if that actually applies in this case.

    Typo alert: “Overall in the US, 33% of people say that society should accept homosexuality and 60% say they should.”

    The first should needs to be shouldn’t?

    • Thanks Ken, and thanks for the typo alert – fixed.

      Anecdotally, I’d say more women say stupid things like “I’m spiritual, not religious” which may make them identify more with religion. Maybe it’s just that they think women are supposed to be.

  2. Yakaru says:

    I know many women who grew up in East Germany (without any particularly strong church network). I know none who especially believe in god, but they seem a little surprised if I mention I’m an atheist — why bother? The question of god’s existence seems to them a rather abstract and pointless philosophical question. –Meaning, that I suspect that many more women don’t really believe in god, than have been motivated to think the issues through and decide they are an atheist.

    (Minor typo in 2nd paragraph which I’m sure you’ll want to correct — “led”)

    • I’m about to write a post about religion in the old Soviet bloc, though it doesn’t cover the old East Germany. It’s interesting how it’s so different there than it is in most of the rest of those countries, which have gone extremely conservative and highly religious. Most, if not all, are now in countries that are much less successful than Germany of course. Perhaps they feel the need for the authoritarianism of conservative religion.

      • Diana MacPherson says:

        The corruption of Kirill only proves Marx’s point about the opiate of the masses.

      • Yakaru says:

        The coming post interesting!

        The former East is still quite poor and about half the people are unhappy with democracy, but the church hasn’t made any resurgence there. Then again, German Christianity was not previously as closely aligned with the state as in Russia before & after communism (and to some degree during).

        In the C18 & early 19th Catholics and Protestants were always banning each other from holding official positions in their respective territories, but that time was also coupled with spectacular economic growth and extraordinary achievements in culture and the sciences. Plus some very serious and devastating critiques of religion, even by some serious theologians…. And in the late 1800s German archeologists were discovering ancient manuscripts with earlier versions of biblical stories, and giving public lectures about them. The public was shocked, but accepted very quickly that they couldn’t take the Bible literally.

    • And thanks for typo heads up. I will fix it.

  3. j.a.m. says:

    All right-thinking persons are traumatized by the patriarchal heteronormativity and white supremacy inherent in the use of dehumanizing categories like “wom*n” and “m*n”. Shame!

    If I were still oblivious such bigoted categories, I’d say the lower incidence of atheism among so-called “wom*n” would indicate their greater intelligence, on average. Moreover, for one who conceives, carries for nine months, and gives birth, the meaning and mystery of life and personhood is hardly an abstraction.

    In any case, welcome back.

    • j.a.m. says:

      If there are few atheists in foxholes, there are fewer still in maternity wards.

      • There are only atheists in foxholes. Why do people hide in foxholes if they really believe their god will protect them? Why don’t they just climb out and leave? Only atheists need foxholes.

        • j.a.m. says:

          A person of faith treasures this life, but has no reason to fear death. An atheist in a foxhole must come to grips with his belief that either alternative is meaningless.

          • Ken says:

            The atheist has grown up enough to realise her life’s meaning is what she makes it and is not imposed from the outside.

          • j.a.m. says:

            With all respect, “life’s meaning is what she makes it” is a sappy sentiment in search of a Hallmark card. And the notion that faith is “imposed” rather than discovered is just as trite.

          • Faith is imposed on children. If the religious were content to keep religious indoctrination away from children and allow them to choose when they were older, that would be fine. And of course some adults do discover their faith. But the vast majority simply have the religion of their parents forced on them.

            Look at that graph of NZers with no religion: 0-4 years old about 60%. How can a child that age choose their religion? It should be 100%. (Same with atheism of course.)

          • j.a.m. says:

            Faith can’t be imposed. Language is imposed; I’m ashamed to say my own parents cruelly coerced their children into thinking and expressing themselves exclusively in the tongue of a defunct imperial power — a rapacious patriarchal heteronormative white supremacist hegemon that brutally subjugated and exploited peoples of color. Exposing young vulnerable children to such a language, depriving them of the right to make their own choice from among the thousands of options, is the worst form of child abuse. (And of course a language ensnares the mind far more insidiously than mere theology.)

            Indeed, for the sake of absolute autonomy, we should keep children as ignorant as possible, tabula rasa, unsullied by any cultural influences, values or prejudices whatsoever.

            But still, there’s nothing a parent or anyone else can do to impose faith. Faith is a conscientious act that comes from a person’s innermost being, her or his sanctuary. Speech and acts may be coerced, but the conscience cannot.

    • I don’t know about your country, but here children learn about the biological processes that lead to birth. They are under no illusion that there’s any supernatural intervention.

      Those who have difficulty conceiving, for example, know that they’re better off visiting a fertility specialist than a centre of worship for help.

      Maybe that’s why the maternal death rate in the US is several times higher than that of NZ, or indeed most Western countries.

      • j.a.m. says:

        That’s some fancy tap-dancing around one correlation that you overlooked: Atheists are more likely to be childless, and to have fewer children on average if any. An unsurprising consequence of the belief that one’s loved ones are no more than mud.

        • Ken says:

          Ah, but very special mud, not the shit the faithful are full of.

        • I do not view those I love as mud, and I find it offensive that you should suggest that.

          Besides, isn’t it you guys that think people were made out of mud by a supernatural being? As one who accepts the Theory of Evolution, I’ve never noticed mud as part of my ancestry all the way back to single-celled organisms.

          And if the only reason the religious are having children is so they can outnumber everyone else, which is the reason high numbers of children are valued, I think that’s pretty disgusting. I’m sure most of those parents love their children, but the children of smaller families usually get a lot more attention from their parents. Situations like the Quiverfull family where the brother was abusing his sisters are more common in those big families. And of course there’s no danger of a priest abusing an atheist child because we don’t put our children in such danger where they would believe that a god will punish them if they speak out against such abuse.

          And if a pregnancy is planned then there is a far greater guarantee that the child is wanted and loved and will get the best start in life.

          Atheists love just as powerfully as anyone else, and we don’t waste any of our love on imaginary beings. And we certainly wouldn’t get caught killing our children because we believe that imaginary being told us to, or failing to get them proper health care because if some stupid religious stricture.

          • j.a.m. says:

            “We humans are blobs of organized mud.” So says celebrity atheist preacher Sean Carroll in the prologue to his mis-titled tome, “The Big Picture”. I didn’t make it up.

            But I was being ironic, because atheists obviously don’t live as if they take literally what their preachers like Carroll or Dawkins tell them.

            BTW, a child is 100 times more likely to be abused by their government school teacher than by their priest.


        • Yakaru says:

          It’s actually Genesis that declares humans to be nothing more than mud — with further value dependent on the existence and conditional approval of a supernatural being.

          Chemistry has advanced considerably since then.

        • Yakaru says:

          It’s a common misunderstanding, j.a.m. — Dawkins & Carrol don’t decide what science says, nor do their metaphors or analogies count as dogma. You have been mis-educated on this.

          • j.a.m. says:

            From 1995 to 2008, Preacher Dawkins held an endowed chair at the University of Oxford that was created specifically for him to promote (his) understanding of science among the general public. You say Dawkins does not “decide what science says,” but he certainly decides what Joe Public thinks about it.

            But let’s not quibble over that. You say I have misunderstood, but can you point to any of Dawkins’s or Carroll’s theological judgments that are not treated as dogma by large numbers of self-identified atheists? (Which is not to say they actually practice they hear preached.)

          • Yakaru says:

            Again, you don’t seem to understand how this works. You’re drawing a false and pointless analogy between science and religion to assert that some people are wrong sometimes.

            Understanding human nature and physiology from a scientific standpoint does not necessitate devaluing people or rejecting intrinsic human rights. Quite the opposite in fact. It demolishes the notion of hierarchies or special privileges. Religions on the other hand, by introducing notions of a hierarchy and authorities external to humanity (as Ken was explaining to you above)open the door to making some people special (co-religionists and priests etc), and excluding others (atheists, gays etc).

            There is nothing analogous to this in scientific method. Certainly humans behave like primate mammals and have hierarchies and turn Dawkins or whoever into an icon and defer to them more than they should, but that’s human nature and there are well understood evolutionary origins to this behavior. Scientific method is designed to circumvent and control for such things.

          • j.a.m. says:

            Let’s rewind a bit. We were talking about the ideology of atheistic materialism, not the scientific method. Carroll’s and Dawkins’s scientific views and expertise are neither here nor there, inasmuch as my comments had to do with their preaching.

            I wholeheartedly agree that scientific accounts of human nature and physiology don’t “necessitate devaluing people or rejecting intrinsic human rights.” It takes atheistic ideology to do that. It takes atheistic materialism like Carroll’s to deny that the human person has any reality at all, much less a reality imbued with intrinsic worth and dignity. Meanwhile science is sublimely indifferent. It does not warrant any ideology. It certainly doesn’t dictate value judgments about human dignity or social pheonomena.

            You’ve also conflated personal faith with institutional religion. The subject of my comments here has been the former. As I already have commented, faith originates in the sanctuary of one’s conscience and innermost being. It can’t be imposed by any other “authority”.

          • When you are an adult you can choose whether or not to accept what people say. I agree with some things Dawkins says and disagree with others. A child us not in a position to do that. Religion imposes ideas on children. Some may be good and some may be bad. That is not the point. The point is a child cannot tell the difference. If they belong to a religion that tells them that gay people are evil, they will believe that. If they are further taught they should be thrown off buildings, they will believe that too.

            There is a difference between abuse by teachers and religious leaders too. Children abused by religious figures are often further traumatised by being told that God wants this to happen and God will make others suffer if they tell. That would not be possible without having first convinced them that God exists. Imagine all those kids praying for it to stop and God never helping. That doesn’t make it okay when a teacher does it, it just adds an extra component to abuse by religious leaders.

            Because of this, abuse by teachers is more likely to be reported, especially at the time. You just have to look at the results of the enquiry in Australia to know abuse by religious leaders goes largely unreported until adulthood. It has been discovered in some Catholic orders, for example, at least 25% of all brothers in that order were abusers. At least 7% of all priests ministering in Australia since 1950 committed child abuse. If a similar enquiry was set up in the US, it’s likely similar results would be found. Your 100x figure is likely the result of under-reporting.

          • Yakaru says:

            I’ve never found Carrol especially interesting, but I suspect you are distorting his words and writing far too much into them. Your description of “atheistic ideology” doesn’t correlate with anything I’ve heard from any of the atheists/non-theists whose works I’ve read.

            Basing your “religion” on the contents of your inner life is fine with me, but you are still interpreting those contents with the language and concepts of institutionalized religion. A feeling or inner experience is one thing; the memory of that experience, and then the interpretation of that experience is of course something else. You should concede that you can’t expect others to accept your assertions about what you’ve experienced and what others can or can’t, etc.

          • j.a.m. says:

            @H: Car crashes kill over 1,600 children every year here in the USA, and injure about sixty times that number. By your logic, parents should keep kids out of cars, because bad things sometimes happen to blameless children who are not in a position to know better or to do anything about it.

            It goes without saying — but let’s stipulate — that a good parent will guide a child’s intellectual development in ways commensurate with her ability and maturity. The parent will respect the child’s rights and dignity as a unique person created in God’s image, possessing reason and free will. And to the best of their ability, the parent will always act in the child’s best interests. With this in mind, your objections don’t hold water. Indeed, if anything, it is the parent who neglects a child’s spiritual development who is failing their child.

            I gather you are unaware that abuse accusations against Catholic clergy in the USA have been exhaustively investigated, tabulated and analyzed, to a far greater extent than any other entity or group, most painstakingly by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in its then-unprecedented report released in 2004. A Hofstra University scholar compared that data to the best available data for government schools to arrive at her estimate that abuse by teachers is 100 times more likely.

          • I’m not sure how I can reason with someone who who takes it as fact we’re created in God’s (I assume you’re assuming the Christian god) image, without first proving that such a Gid even exists.

            And you also believe in free will, which also does not exist. The fact that it doesn’t is one of the main reasons I’m able to tolerate it when you troll – you can do no other.

            And you completely ignored the psychological aspect of abuse by religious leaders. And when I say religious leaders I am not referring exclusively to Roman Catholic ones. However, to the extent that a Catholic priest is held as unquestionable on faith matters in a way a moderate Anglican is not, for example, I suspect the Catholic one would be worse. I also expect the level of abuse to be higher in situations like cults (such as NZ’s Protestant Gloriavale) because of the way the leaders rule without question.

            And why is so-called spiritual development necessary? There’s moral, ethical, intellectual, physical development, which are all important. A child can be given an appreciation of things like art, music, culture. They can be told about religion and supported if they want to explore that. What you advocate is forcing them to believe what you believe about your god. Teaching a child to accept something without proof, to trust without evidence, cannot be a good thing.

          • Yakaru says:

            Huh? Defending the Catholic Church? You were just idgnant with me that I conflated your faith with institutional religion. Ok.

            Play with statistics however you want, the Catholic Church sets itself as knowing the only path to salvation and uses this authority to gain access to children. It then protects pedophiles.

            Defend them all you want, but you have to first accept that they are nothing more special than the local tennis club and lying through their teeth about their holy holy specialness in order to cover their crimes.

          • j.a.m. says:

            @H: Most parents, regardless of spiritual persuasion, want to pass on their values, philosophy, and life secrets. People of faith are no different in that regard.

            That’s a partial answer, but there’s more to it than that, because the significance of spiritual formation is far more than that. Simply stated, it’s what makes us human. It’s the basis for a person’s lifelong intellectual, moral, and social development.

            While parents certainly should be attentive to a student’s unique interests, we don’t let young kids opt out of math class just because they feel like it. It would be even more absurd and negligent to take that approach with their spiritual formation.

          • By saying that “spiritual formation is … what makes us human” you are stating that you don’t consider those of us who are not spiritual in your sense of the word i.e. atheists, are human. That’s pretty offensive. Spirituality is absolutely not “the basis for a person’s lifelong intellectual, moral, and social development.” I develop in those areas (and others) every day, I hope for the better. I have become a better person since I recognized there was no such thing as God.

            Not believing in God is in no way the equivalent to opting out of a maths class.

            I think part of the problem here is the word “spiritual” because it has become associated with religious belief, and that certainly seems to be the way you use it. I never use it because of that association. However, as I said, a child can be enriched with appreciation for things like art, music, literature etc and explore the branches of those that most appeal. I also think it’s important that they learn about religion because it’s such a big part of our culture and history. If they want to they should be allowed to explore that in a way that’s appropriate to their age. They should not be forced to any pov as very young children, but rather taught principles such as treating others as they would like to be treated themselves. They should absolutely not be brainwashed by a Church that teaches such things as homosexuality is evil.

            As for the more likely to be abused by teachers than priests, that’s just a numbers game. There are hundreds of thousands more teachers than priests, and most children won’t come into contact with a priest. If 1/10,000 teachers is an abuser and 1/13 priests is an abuser, yes, there are more teachers who are abusers. But priests are multiple times more likely to be abusers, and less likely to get caught.

          • j.a.m. says:

            On the statistics issue, I’m confident that the Hofstra University education professor who made the claim was astute enough to compare apples to apples by accounting for the difference in population sizes and other variables. But her extrapolation is just that, and I certainly can’t vouch for her methodology in any detail.

            (But even if she’s off by an order of magnitude, it’s still ten times…)

          • j.a.m. says:

            Obviously we (still) hold diametrically conflicting convictions. I have tried to state mine as plainly as possible, but I certainly did not mean to give offense.

          • nicky says:

            @ Heather, there are about 400 000 catholic priests in the USA, and over 3 million full-time school teachers (which would not include say, scout leaders) , roughly 1 priest to 8 full-time school teachers.
            Now I know this is anecdotal, but I have known several peers (3) that were sexually molested by priests, and exactly zero by their school teachers*. What is the probability of that if the teacher/priest molestation rate is 100/1? In other words, I am deeply skeptical about j.a.m.’s 100 times more children molested by teachers than by priests.
            So I tend to agree with you here, but it is not hundreds of thousands more teachers than priests, just about 8 times. And yes, of course all children have teachers, and only some have contact with priests, so the ‘only 8 times’ might be skewing the numbers.

            *[I knew 2 cases of adolescents (17 and 18 years old, hardly children) involved with their teachers, but by own account, initiated by themselves.]

          • I don’t know the numbers, but was only thinking of NZ. In the town where I live there are c. 150 teachers and 1 priest. Most small towns are the same. In bigger towns the ratio would be much bigger i.e. more teachers. We have less priests than the US because we don’t have Catholic universities and there are a lot less Catholic schools. It’s never been a dominant religion here, though it is a big one. In religion we’re more like England, though these days they have a lot more Muslims than us.

          • j.a.m. says:

            As long as we’re swapping anecdotes: Not a week goes by anymore without lurid news reports about female government school teachers trundling off to prison for abusing underage boys or girls.

          • j.a.m. says:

            I must say I don’t follow the argument for keeping children as ignorant as possible so they can decide for themselves what to learn. If you keep your kids ignorant about God, then they just grow up to be ignorant adults. (And no, studying religion as a cultural phenomenon is not the same thing.)

            This gets back to something we’ve puzzled over here before: Self-avowed atheists forever tilting at strawmen because they haven’t the foggiest idea what it is they don’t believe in.

          • j.a.m. says:

            @Yakaru: I don’t expect anyone to “accept assertions” by me or others. My expectation from this or any dialogue is that everyone will take away a better understanding of opposing positions and what the real differences are.

            I think I’ve fairly described Carroll’s position. He sugarcoats it a little, saying it’s okay to pretend you and your loved ones are real — so long as you never forget you’re not. You can call that a philosophical stance if you don’t like the word ideology, but I’d say ideology fits.

          • Yakaru says:

            “[Carrol] saying it’s okay to pretend you and your loved ones are real — so long as you never forget you’re not.”

            That’s not compatible with Abrahamic religions, but perfectly in accord with Buddhism and some other Indian traditions. Speaking as a practicing pseudo-Buddhist of several decades, it’s also a non-controversial aspect of meditative experience.

            It only seems troubling to those who are invested in the existence of a soul as an independent entity.

            (I would agree with you that it can turn into an indifference not only to others, but also to oneself — witness kamikaze pilots and the auto-aggressive tendencies of monks in some Hindu & Jain sects.)

          • nicky says:

            @ j.a.m. do you have a link to this ‘Hofstra’ article?

          • j.a.m. says:

            Fair point, though I would think Buddhists mean something rather different than Carroll’s physicalism.

            Interestingly, Carroll “dialogued” earlier this year with Alan Wallace, “a world-renowned author and Buddhist scholar trained by the Dalai Lama”, who strongly objected to Carroll’s views, but for some reason avoided talking much about Buddhism. For his part, Carroll soft-pedaled compared to his writing and other appearances.


          • Yakaru says:

            Now it gets complicated. I disagree with both Carrol and the Dalai Lama.

            I would assume that Carrol dismisses the ‘hard question of consciousness’ as not even existing — i.e. that subjective consciousness is an illusion, so there’s nothing to see here, move on. I (and many scientists) take a different position, on that, namely, there is something happening that is mysterious and by its nature can only be ‘subjectively’ experienced.

            The Dalai Lama is a body-mind dualist, which is not really Buddhism. I don’t know if he just speaks like that because some Buddhist techniques and teachings are most easily explained in dualist language, or if he’s more politician than meditator. (Personally I find the stuff he teaches idiotic, shallow and fake — just like the personality he projects.)

          • j.a.m. says:

            As requested:

            Hofstra/USDOE report on public school abuse:

            John Jay/USCCB report on clerical abuse:

            “Those figures suggest that ‘the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests,’ contended Ms. Shakeshaft, who is a professor of educational administration at Hofstra, in Hempstead, N.Y.” — Education Week, March 10, 2004

          • The report is very, very dodgy. I don’t want it said I’m denying abuse in public schools, because I’m sure it happens. However there is a lot that is wrong with this report. For a start, even a comment (which of course is not acceptable) is being counted in this report. If comments were included in the study of priests, I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find a single priest who hasn’t made a judgmental comment of a sexual nature. They’re extrapolating to every school, no matter what their policies, which is very wrong. Also, in the terms of what’s considered acceptable by teachers, even 2004 is a long time ago.

            It also relates to all employees, not just teachers. Teachers are trained, registered, professionals, but other employees aren’t necessarily.

            As far as I’m concerned, the Church still isn’t taking misconduct by priests seriously enough. This is another episode which I noticed just today, and Philidelphia is an area in which should be more aware after all that’s happened there:

          • j.a.m. says:

            If you want to swap anecdotes, have a gander:


            If 2004 was a long time ago in terms of what’s considered acceptable, the 1970s and 80s (when alleged incidents by priests peaked) are even further distant by this point.

            One may think that the US Catholic bishops have not done enough, but they’ve done much more than the public schools or any other institution or organization in our society. As well they should do. But an accusation that they haven’t taken the problem seriously does not bear scrutiny. If nothing else — if one wants to take the most cynical possible view — the disastrous financial consequences have got their attention.

            One may find the Dept. of Education report by the Hofstra professor dodgy, but it’s the best there is. There is no comprehensive data set detailing abuse by teachers that is anywhere near the standard set by the priest study. The truth is, nobody wants to know — least of all the corrupt thugs who run the ed unions (and who wield power the bishops could never dream of).

          • Obviously I don’t know how the US education system handles these things. My experience is NZ. Here any teacher who is reported is immediately suspended, and they lose registration if/when convicted. They are not protected by their union. Procedures of how they’re dealt with are constantly updated, which is what I meant about 2004 being a long time ago. It was not a comment in relation to the abuse perpetrated.

            As for teachers enjoying power that the Church can only dream of. Is that some kind of sick joke? The Vatican is currently protecting multiple abusers. A former Australian bishop who ignored abuse for years and protected priests was promoted to one of the most powerful jobs in the Vatican and they are doing all they can to stop him testifying in the inquiry there. Priest/monk abusers have always got away with abuse to an extent other paedophiles can only dream of. They get caught, they promise not to do it again, they’re moved to a new parish, and the cycle starts again. Historically law enforcement has never been involved – that is a modern phenomenon. In many countries, priests are still getting away with it. The only thing that has made the Church better in some countries is the loss of money. Many officials still care nothing for the children involved. Several dioceses in the US have rearranged their finances and deliberately declared bankruptcy so their victims got nothing. Most abusers continue to be protected by the Church.

            Given the modern climate, I think that if public school teachers were abusing children at a rate 100x that of priests, everyone would know about it. To suggest what must be at least 100s of thousands of victims are suffering in silence while the Church is “victimized” is ridiculous.

          • j.a.m. says:

            BTW, when you click on the above news link, be sure to keep scrolling (and scrolling and scrolling…)

          • j.a.m. says:

            My comments clearly had to do with the situation in the USA. The bishops’ response here has been ahead of the Vatican’s as well as that of other countries — and indeed, as stated above, ahead of other US institutions and groups. The claim that most clerical abusers in the USA continue to be protected is absurd and patently false.

            It’s ridiculous to argue over how big a slice of the pie chart teachers should get. Meanwhile we ignore a horrendous systemic problem about which we have no data, and that powerful special interests want kept off the agenda. Then there is the media’s preposterous double standard: Each allegation against a priest is treated as an institutional story, and an excuse to rehash every spurious allegation ever made. On the other hand, every report of a teacher going to prison is treated as just an isolated item on the police blotter, with no analysis or context.

          • Yakaru says:

            Did the guy say he didn’t realize it was wrong? Do the Olympic Committee say they and only they know the basis of morality?

            I could go on.

            The Olympics Committee can go to hell for all I care, but any organization that would see them as a comparative standard for ethics — and fails — can go with them.

  4. GBJames says:

    I suspect that the the same answer applies to “Why aren’t there more women atheists?” and to the question “Why aren’t there more women in STEM professions?”. IOW, I doubt that the lower STEM participation _causes_ less atheism but that whatever is involved, THAT characteristic will be causative of both.

    As for the way political inclinations enter the discussion, there are a great many liberals who don’t arrive at their worldview via critical thinking. I know many fellow liberals, both male and female, who I don’t think have well developed reasoning skills. But their human decency modules are working well so they tend to support most of the same things we atheist liberals support. (But tend to get muddle-headed when it comes to attitudes towards, for example, GMO technology.)

    • Yeah, I’d agree with all that I think. The STEM thing is a bit of a chicken and egg problem. (Though the chicken and egg thing has, of course, been answered by science.)

  5. Linda Calhoun says:

    One other possibility is that there are NOT fewer women atheists than men atheists, but that women are more reluctant to admit to their atheism than men.

    Generally on the internet, unpopular views expressed by men may be shouted down, but unpopular views expressed by women are more likely to beget threats of violence.

    Who needs that?

    I know plenty of women who express opinions privately to me that they would never admit to in public, on a wide range of topics. “Tread lightly” is their philosophy.

    Even when survey questioners are supposedly anonymous, who in their right mind is going to trust that?


    • That’s a good point. Some of the threats I’ve had on social media are pretty ugly, but generally those doing the threatening are on the other side of the world. The cost of carrying out their threat would be prohibitive for most. So I’m in a position where I can ignore them, which many women aren’t. For personal reasons I learned to identify and deal with bullies at a very young age. Again, many women don’t realize they’re stuck with one until it’s too late.

      A relationship with a god is an abusive relationship. It’s “do what I want or I will make you suffer”. Then there are abuses that still come out of left field anyway no matter how well you think you’ve followed the rules, such as being struck down by an illness. Believers then spend a lot of time worrying what they did wrong to deserve it, and constantly begging for help that may or may not come since the entity they’re begging for help from “moves in mysterious ways”. In fact, it acts exactly how you’d expect a non-existent entity to act.

  6. Diana MacPherson says:

    My experience, which may have absolutely nothing or absolutely everything to do with data, is that women tend to be socialized to be nice. Being nice includes not going against the majority opinion and reinforcing the status quo as often as possible. As a woman who is a disrupter, a change agent and therefore someone who challenges norms, I have often been on the receiving end of female punishment by other females, more than males.

    It become engrained in women not to challenge, not to speak up, not to be impolite! So, being an atheist goes against a lot of those things.

    • I suspect that has a lot to do with it too. I’ve never shied away from being outspoken myself, but, even though we’re different in many ways, my mother is also very outspoken. So as a young child I never realized that part of me was different. I’m also the eldest of four, so speaking up/out for others was normal too.

      • Diana MacPherson says:

        For me, it was just who I was – ingrained in personality. It’s been a blessing AND a curse for my whole life from being labelled “insolent” as a child to being punished as an adult who didn’t follow the same path as other women.

        • I don’t know if I’ve been punished for being different or not. People have certainly tried, but bullying simply never worked on me, and I don’t care what others think as long as what they think is accurate. I know why, but I’ll tell you privately in a Facebook message later. It’s not a tale for general information.

        • rickflick says:

          Hmmm…and you two women are both atheists! I’m beginning to see a pattern…

  7. rickflick says:

    I have nothing original to add. All of the suggested reasons presented so far sound plausible to me. Taken together I think the gender/atheism question may have been resolved. I would only add that as US culture shifts inevitably in a more progressive direction it will come to resemble Western Europe in it’s mores. Whatever the gender delta is now, if any, in Europe might become the US norm of the future.

  8. Amy Carparelli says:

    Good post and welcome back.

    From a personal perspective, I’ve many family and friends (women) that are not religious, I have one close family member and she tried to force religion on me when she became religious (you know about the member of my family I’m referring to). Using lies and deceit.

    As you know I live in Western Europe and we get the impression here that the majority of women in the US are religious and conservative and anti-choice. But you know my feelings on that.

    one thing I can say is we need more women working in Physics and in top jobs in science. I’m sure you’ve seen many photos of groups of scientists working on a project and there might be 15 or 12 scientists for example and out of those possibly 2 or 3 are women. I’ve raised this issue with ESA and with the Planetary Society and other science organisations. One of those organisations I’ve work with as a physicist.

    • Lying for Jesus seems to be fairly common amongst his more devout followers. Like extremists of all types, it seems to be the norm that the end justifies the means. At its core, it’s really no different to blowing up children to get the English out of Northern Ireland, or to get Israel wiped off the map, or to advance the cause of a global Islamic caliphate.

      I’ve noticed that the spokesperson for Auckland University on things sciencey on TV in recent years has been a woman with long pink hair who clearly knows what she’s talking about. Dr Siousxie Wiles is a microbiologist and bioluminescence researcher who also has a blog and podcast. Having someone like her as the front person goes against stereotypes and helps encourage girls into science.

      I noticed in the recent ESOcast about their new telescope that there was only one woman in the large senior team, and everyone was white too. Of course, the best have to be recruited so my assumption is that other demographics don’t work in the field.

      We need more women scientists in the public eye. Readers will be interested to know that Amy is in the process of setting up a website which mainly focuses on science and nature projects in Britain, but has lots of other interesting stuff too. Another woman scientist doing her bit for the cause. I’ll write a post about it in the future. Amy – I’m not currently on a device where a can add links, so please add one to your site here.

      • Amy Carparelli says:

        True about the lies and deceit. We have to look at the way parents treat boys and girls and often boys and girls are raised differently. Boys are usually encouraged to be successful, have toy cars, soldiers, science kits, dinosaurs etc. Girls are often ‘wrapped in cotton wool’, more protected and have stricter rules they are raised by. Girls toys may include dolls, and those baby-like dolls and prams – I always think that’s strange buying a pram and baby-like doll for a young girl. There is scientific evidence to suggest these differences do play a big part in those children when they become adults. It is possible that girls being more over protected could possibly lead on to them becoming religious – the protective sky-daddy figure. This could also be why women are not as confident when speaking out and saying what they think. There’s a very interesting documentary with Professor Alice Roberts that touches on this subject. Parents allowing their toddlers to use a child’s slide and most of the parents adjusted the height depending on if the toddler was a boy or a girl, it showed the they are more overprotective when it’s their daughter by making the slide lower.

        I will have a look at Dr Siouxsie Wiles work, I believe she has worked in the UK at some point. Yes true, science communication is very important.

        Are you referring to the ESO documentary about MUSE, the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer installed at ESO’s Very Large Telescope?

        Yes true, there are (I think) 3 women in that documentary but only one speaks in the documentary. The project took 9 years and involved 100 researchers, technicians and engineers. I’m not sure how many of them were women. It’s a European team involving: CRAL Lyon, IRAP Toulouse, Leiden Observatory Leiden, AIG Gottingen, AIP Potsdam, ESO Munich, ETH Zurich. The woman you are referring to is the Project System Integration Manager of MUSE Florence Laurent. She’s part of the leading organisation of the project: CRAL Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon. I think the main scientists and technicians number 19 people (don’t quote me on that figure), 3 of the 19 are women.

        Thanks so much for the plug for my website, I have a lot more work to do first, I appreciate it thank you. Sorry this is such a long reply and for any typos or if I missed anything.

        • nicky says:

          The traditional social sciences ‘socialisation’ account. I do not want to dismiss it completely, but most of it is bogus.
          Anybody who has both boys and girls can tell you. My daughter was simply not interested in toy cars, dinosaurs, guns and soldiers, could not care less. (She did like the science kits though, and chemical experiments in the kitchen). She wanted nice dresses and dolls, and nothing that would traditionally be considered ‘boyish’, despite my efforts, yes, I tried.
          My boys on the other hand are obsessed with cars, airplanes, guns, dinos, superheroes and the like, and computer games, despite my efforts to discourage guns and computer games.
          All of them like to be told or read stories though, and like ‘walks’.
          The brains of boys and girls appear just to be somewhat differently wired, meseems, although there are some universals.

          • Amy Carparelli says:

            Firstly, yes, it is possible that your daughter may prefer to play with dolls. If you have given your daughter choices and that’s what she chose then good for you for at least giving her options. A friend of mine did the same with her son and he too has little interest in playing with toy cars, he gets bored with them quickly and he seems to prefer playing with dolls. Let’s not forget that children go through phases with toys, so it could be because of a phase the childs going through.

            There are other factors that influence children such as social interaction with friends and family, or maybe going to a school or play-group and the staff/teachers there and the influence they have on children. To give an example I rarely wore dresses as a child but when I was in my teens I developed an ‘interest’ because of influence of some of my girlfriends and then I developed ‘curves’ and found dresses are more comfortable for my body shape. There are always exceptions and I’m not saying anybody is being a bad parent but when parents intentionally raise boys and girls differently just because they are a boy or girl and without giving them choices then gender differences will happen, and this is the case throughout history. If you forget about what science shows and just think of it logically then raising boys and girls differently just because they are boys and girls will create those gender differences in most cases in adults. There are always exceptions – another friend of mine was forced to wear dresses all the time as a child, her parents wouldn’t let her have a haircut and she was treated like a ‘little princess’ so the first chance she had when she had her 20th birthday she had her hair cut short, threw away all her dresses, and completely rebelled. In most cases that doesn’t happen but there are always exceptions.

            Something else to keep in mind is ‘unconscious bias’. Unconscious bias can happen as much with gender stereotyping, how women are treated, and how boys and girls are treated differently similar to how it happens with racial bias.

            There are not many differences between boys and girl’s brains, the differences are far more noticeable in adults and this varies depending on the environment children are raised in, social interactions and influences as they grow up, the way the children deal with problems and situations during their childhood and teenage years and how parents treat their children during the situations.

            I’ll end by saying I enjoyed playing with toy cars, science kits, and most toys that would have be referred to as ‘boys toys’. I was in the Army Cadets for 6 years age 13-19 and the last year as a volunteer. I was given choices as a child, encouraged to say what I think and to pursue what hobbies, interests, and career I wanted to do.

            To quote Professor Alice Roberts:
            “There’s a plasticity about our brains that means they develop according to the environment that they’re in. So if you place them in an environment where there are very different roles for men and women they will adapt to that environment.”

          • rickflick says:

            Amy: “There are not many differences between boys and girl’s brains.”
            Put simply, brain differences based on genes vs nurture is a balance of two overlapping normal distributions. Some strong feminists have emphasized nurture while virtually ignoring innate differences. This seems to be a gross ideological reaction not justified by research. The key to social justice is simply to ensure individual choice and opportunity in all aspects of life – such as employment. I just read a piece on the first women in combat roles in the military. Things are changing.

          • nicky says:

            @ j.a.m., I’m not impressed at all, they are 2 completely different studies, the church one founded by the church (always a bad sign)-
            There is great confusion about abuse (verbal or physical), misconduct, harassment etc. Also not much distinction other than ‘under 18’ in many of the studies studied. Retrospective reviews that lump all kinds of things toghether. Teachers or anybody in contact with pupils, the studies vary but no separation is possible for most parameters. No comparative study, but desperately disparate studies. A big mess.
            This ‘professor’ so obviously does not compare ‘apples with apples’ at all (where did you get that idea?). The ‘100 times’ could just as well be ‘1000 times’, ‘2 times’ or ‘half as much’. Don’t get me wrong, there definitely is abuse in schools, but her conclusions about numbers are neither here nor there. Poor scholarship, to put it charitably.

          • nicky says:

            @ Amy, you don’t have children, do you?

            Note, as a young boy I used to play with dolls too, just slightly differently. I let them fight a lot and (litterally) cut their bellies open ‘playing doctor’ (got me a good hiding too, destroying dolls).
            Surgery, a real calling????

    • Diana MacPherson says:

      Amy – you reminded me of a story that both saddens and amuses. I work in the technology field. Women are rare and become more rare the more high tech the industry. I was working in a competitive, high tech sector who made products. Their answer to attracting females (who they didn’t market to at all when I started there – marketing told us at orientation that they aimed their product at successful male businessmen) was to make the same product but in pink. I found my coworkers didn’t notice this and I was always laughing about making things pink.

      When other organizations started recognizing the lack of women in STEM they jumped on the band wagon and funded initiatives for females in high school to go into STEM. I laughed bitterly because the company showed no interest in the women already working for them and to add insult to injury, they gave a director level position to a female pop star to look into some. Who work in tech. I laughed uproariously. What does a pop star know about working in STEM as a woman. It was all superficial to look hip and in step with the overall trend.

      • Amy Carparelli says:

        Hello Diana, yes good point you’ll face similar problems in your profession as I do in mine. Careers in Science, Engineering, Technology etc = STEM. Was the product specifically for men? For something only men need or something like that?

        I’ve seen that before using pink thinking that it will appeal to girls/women.

        I’m guessing using a ‘female’ pop star was thinking that girls see pop stars as being something to aspire to or maybe to reach a wider target ‘audience’?

        This is the issue, there are many famous scientists etc that are men, but not many women. It will be the same with science, engineering, and technology, maybe the lack of famous women working in these careers may be part of the reason?

        Or maybe they thought it would be trendy?

  9. Infidel753 says:

    “Thirdly” at the end makes a lot of sense to me. Different fields of education differ enormously in their likely impact on religious thinking. A deep study of science almost inevitably leads to a confrontation with the realization that religion simply doesn’t make sense. Study of fields like law or history or math, while perfectly worthy in their own right, don’t normally lead to that confrontation.

    It also makes sense that women, even if they don’t believe in religion, would be less likely to self-identify as atheists even in an anonymous survey. Considering oneself an atheist feels like challenging what most cultures indoctrinate people to feel is “good”, even if only with the confines of one’s own mind. I suspect that males, for a variety of reasons, are just more comfortable with that.

  10. nicky says:

    Interesting post Heather, as we have become used to.
    I wonder how the rest of the world is in this respect, the data you give about the difference in religiosity between men and women appear to be mainly USA based. I do not say it will be different world-wide, just that we don’t know.
    And then -on a tangent- we come to poverty. Christopher Hitchens argued, something we all kind of vaguely knew, but he argued it so clearly: the way out of poverty is empowerment of women, healthcare, reproductive freedom, women having access to microloans, etc. The greatest obstacle to women’s empowerment is traditional, organised religion. Be it Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or other. So yes, I’d really like to know about religiosity (and the male/female difference) in the rest of the world, but there are probably not many data. Is atheism a purely ‘First World’ phenomenon?
    The correlation between religiosity and poverty is well established, but we have another chicken and egg problem here (and, just like the original chicken and egg problem, potentially resolvable): does poverty cause religiousity or does religion cause poverty?

    • I think poverty causes extremism and authoritarianism. In tough times people look for answers and will latch onto whatever/whoever gives them one, and they’re rarely rational about it. It’s like the coal-mining states in the US in the recent elections. We all know that coal is going away. It’s a worldwide phenomenon, not something Obama visited on coal miners. The price plummeted because the Chinese are cleaning up their act and therefore there’s no demand. Clinton actually had a good policy to deal with the issue in coal-mining areas, but she failed to communicate it. All Trump said is he would bring back coal. He can’t and won’t do that, but people believed him and liked what he said so they voted for him. Now they’re getting screwed as, for example, they lose the special healthcare status they had under Obama because of the lung disease they developed working as miners. Their vote was completely irrational but also completely understandable.

      I am currently very slowly working on a post about religion in Central and Eastern Europe. Other stuff might come out before that, but it looks at some similar issues in that part of the world.

      There is quite a bit of data available about how economies improve with the empowerment of women, especially in the Third World. Much of it shows that it’s better to target women because they are more likely to invest back in the community while men are more likely to spend a larger proportion of profits on themselves on things like alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, prostitution, bling etc. Not all men are like that of course, bur certainly enough that it makes a significant difference to the statistics.

      • nicky says:

        Yes, however, I would think that Hitchens’ thesis is that religion causes poverty rather than the other way round.
        Maybe a kind of positive feed-back loop?

        • I’m not sure that religion causes poverty, but it can stop you getting out of it. It depends how it manifests itself. Some cults are quite wealthy dependent on their organizational structure. But in the context Hitchens was talking about it he was right imo – I agree there.

          You can also argue though that the Protestant West includes the wealthiest nations today because of the Protestant work ethic. In many ways it is what drove colonization, which had multiple bad results which mustn’t be forgotten, but was also economically successful and not just for the colonizers.

  11. nicky says:

    Living in South Africa, I’m glad to hear that opposition to miscegenation in the US is mostly in single or low double digits. The distribution is kind of expected: elderly, male, white, republican, are most opposed. I do not know about data for South Africa, but with it’s history of Apartheid it might be higher here.
    I came across a page from a black -in the US that is, here he would probably be considered ‘coloured’- man (from Craw on WEIT), a preacher of course, who opposes miscgenation.
    Note, there is so much wrong with that page one doesn’t know where to begin.
    Note 2, disclosure, I’m not really impartial in this, all my children are of ‘mixed’ race.
    Anecdote: when my oldest daughter was about 7 she confronted the bullies taunting her she was a ‘half-blood’ with: “you are so stupid , I am a double blood!”. You can imagine how proud I felt of her.

    • Ha! What a great kid!

      I’m not impartial either. Half my nieces and nephews (3/6) and more than half of my first cousins on my mother’s side (11/21), are mixed race. I’ve always had close relationships with everyone on that side of the family because we were all fairly close in age and also spent most of our school holidays together on my grandmother’s farm.

    • As for that article! I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. As you say, there’s so much wrong it’s hard to know where to start. I just learnt white people evolved from Neanderthals in one part, and fallen angels in another! FFS!

      • nicky says:

        Maybe the Neanderthals were the fallen angels? 🙂
        I also like the notion that the Hebrews were actually black.

        • Yes, that was a good one too. He seems to have taken on the identity of the lost tribe of Israel for all black people, which, once again, logically contradicts other things he wrote.

  12. nicky says:

    I noticed that on the map of acceptance of homosexuality in society the countries that were at the forefront (Netherlands, Denmark and other Scandinavian countries, Belgium, etc) are left blank, and NZ is not even on the map at all. Ouch!
    Most African countries are left blank too (which is maybe better). Although homosexuality is as common or uncommon (generally about 2% of the population) there as everywhere else, it is not readily accepted. South Africa with 22% acceptance is probably the best we can hope for there.
    I’m pleasantly surprised by the deeply Catholic Phillipines having an acceptance rate of 73%!

  13. Tumara Baap says:

    Susan Jacoby’s “A history of American secularism” makes a solid case that every bit of dignity U.S. women enjoy today is because of someone who pushed back on God. From enlightenment figures who countered religious dogma to Elizabeth Stanton and Margaret Sanger a century ago, women have benefited enormously by modernity and secularism. It’s especially vexing that women today are not the vanguard of a modern godless utopia. Jacoby herself details how the secular impulses that motivated progressive causes were deliberately downplayed to increase the reach of the message to wider audience. Very disheartening.

    I think Heather has a point about women seeking church as a basis of social support. I believe there has been work done demonstrating a correlation between overall secularization of a country and when large numbers of women joined the workforce. But this alone would not explain the significant gender disparity in Godless attitudes nowadays. I don’t know if there are inherent differences: with one gender preferring to cope with life’s difficulties by seeking a social connection and what they see as an emotional salve.

    Skepticism, secularism and atheism are also heavily intertwined with scientific literacy. In the U.S. at least magazines and talk shows geared towards women are notorious for getting sciency stuff horribly wrong. There should be no excuse for this. The only other place faring worse on matters of science (and for that matter with economics or any other faculty of reason) are the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal.

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