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Does ‘atheism’ have race and gender problems?

March 31, 2015

I recently saw this article which appeared on the Chicago Tribune claiming that atheism has race and gender problems. It claims that the majority of atheists were white (in greater proportions than the relevant population at large):

According to a much-discussed 2012 report from the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life, only 3 percent of U.S. atheists and agnostics are black, 6 percent are Hispanic, and 4 percent are Asian. Some 82 percent are white. (The relevant figures for the population at large at the time of the survey were 66 percent white, 11 percent black, 15 percent Hispanic, 5 percent Asian.)

The report also says that most atheists are male:

The same report tells us that women are 52 percent of the U.S. population but only 36 percent of atheists and agnostics.

Although this might simply be a US phenomenon:

Some feminist atheists contend that the gender split is a distinctively U.S. phenomenon. They point to a 2012 WIN-Gallup International survey tending to show that outside the U.S., men and women describe themselves as atheists at about the same rate.

However, these observations back up some of my own reflections of the white male-dominated nature of the audience at the Unholy Trinity Down Under event and also the numbers shared on the the Atheist Census (a fairly failed experiment in my mind) which shows that almost 75% of atheists were male!

There are clear demographic skews in the atheist community towards white males.

So given this ‘evidence’. What do we make of it? Does modern atheism have race and gender problems?

What makes atheism appealing to white wealthy men and less so to others?

Also, what do we make of the accusation that religion is sexist and racist, even though a majority of atheists are white males?

I’m keen to hear responses and particularly from women and those who are not white.

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