Today in hateration news: people really, really don't trust atheists. In a new study, the only group participants found as untrustworthy as nonbelievers were rapists.
According to the Vancouver Sun, University of British Columbia researchers conducted a total of six experiments on 350 Americans and 420 UBC students, of varying religions (67% of the Americans were Christian). In one experiment, they presented participants with the story of an "archetypal freerider" who cheats and steals a lot, and asked what group they thought that person might belong to. Participants were more likely to categorize the person as an atheist than as a Christian, Jew, Muslim, gay person, or feminist (some of the groups were chosen because they were "often described as threatening to majority religious values and morality"). Only rapists fared as poorly — participants were about as likely to put the "freerider" in this group. According to the study, "People did not significantly differentiate atheists from rapists."
In another experiment, researchers asked what jobs the subjects would hire atheists to perform. Lead study author Will Gervais discusses the results:
People are willing to hire an atheist for a job that is perceived as low trust, for instance as a waitress. But when hiring for a high-trust job like daycare worker, they were like, nope, not going to hire an atheist for that job.
I guess that makes sense, if in most people's minds nonbelievers are on a par with rapists. Study coauthor Ara Norenzayan told QMI, "Outward displays of belief in God may be viewed as a proxy for trustworthiness, particularly by religious believers who think that people behave better if they feel that God is watching them. While atheists may see their disbelief as a private matter on a metaphysical issue, believers may consider atheists' absence of belief as a public threat to co-operation and honesty." Because obviously fear of God's punishment is the only reason people are ever nice to each other. Study authors found that atheists didn't find religious people untrustworthy — says Gervais, "They seem to think that religion is not an important signal for who you can trust." They might want to watch out, though — if people think you're worse than feminists, you're really in trouble.
Atheists, Rapists Top List Of People Religious Believers Distrust The Most, UBC Study Finds [Vancouver Sun]
Atheists Roughly As Distrusted As Rapists, UBC Study Finds [CTVBC]
Atheists Universally Untrusted [QMI, via Sun News Network]