Kyle A. Thomas is a doctoral candidate in theatre history at the University of Illinois, a former born-again evangelical Christian, and a current atheist.
A 2006 study in American Sociological Review shows that, while both divisions among American Christians and negative perceptions between people of different faiths are eroding, there is still one group that Americans don’t trust: those who choose to remain outside of communities of belief. Further research shows that atheists are perceived about as favorably as Muslims. Not believing in God constitutes a social mōs on par with one of the most maligned religious groups in the current American zeitgeist. (At least one op-ed has called for a political alliance between Muslims and atheists on the grounds that much of the current vitriol in American politics is aimed at these two groups.) The most fascinating question here falls outside of quantitative analysis: what does an atheist look like?