Paper abaixo: Mais uma referência para meu livro sobre o estudo científico das origens da Religião e do Ateísmo. É curioso que, ao contrário do que se poderia esperar usando uma amostra de ateus na internet (que eu sei que é estatisticamente tendenciosa porque a amostra é auto-selecionada), esta pesquisa estatística mostra que, em geral, ateus americanos não escondem sua identidade religiosa por medo de retaliações ou discriminação social. Pelo contrário, a maior motivação é de certa forma paternalista, no sentido de preservar ou proteger parentes amados (por exemplo, mães e avós) de uma realidade que possivelmente eles não entenderiam. Eu acrescentaria aqui a motivação de preservar ou conservar relações amorosas quando um dos parceiros tem tendências religiosas ou espirituais, a exemplo de Penny e Leonard no The Big Bang Theory.
Open Peer Commentary
a2 Department of Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University, Altoona, PA 16602. [email protected]http://www.sites.google.com/site/professorrowland/
a3 Department of Sociology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242.
Our research on non-religion supports the proposed shift toward more interactive models of prejudice. Being nonreligious is easily hideable and, increasingly, of low salience, leading to experiences not easily understood via traditional or contemporary frameworks for studying prejudice and prejudice reduction. This context affords new opportunity to observe reverse forms of interactive prejudice, which can interfere with prejudice reduction.
- Beyond prejudice: Are negative evaluations the problem and is getting us to like one another more the solution?
Beyond prejudice: Are negative evaluations the problem and is getting us to like one another more the solution? John Dixon, Mark Levine, Steve Reicher and Kevin Durrheim Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X11002214
Despite their growing numbers (Kosmin & Keysar 2009), the nonreligious face greater negative prejudice than almost any other group in America (Edgell et al. 2006); they also prejudge others, sometimes negatively. Although this makes non-religion an interesting context in which to explore prejudice and the possibilities for prejudice reduction, few studies document discrimination in this context. Drawing upon our interviews with religious and nonreligious members of American rural communities, we contend that further investigation will support Dixon et al.’s call to reevaluate current understandings of prejudice.
Non-religion is different from the context of traditional prejudice research
The four most crucial differences we see are as follows: First, no obvious outward markers demarcate atheists, especially because most are fully capable of engaging in the customs of religious society. Unlike the interactive contexts of sexism or racism, discriminating against nonbelievers first requires voluntary self-revelation of nonreligious identity. Second, contemporary nonreligious identity is rarely salient. In a 2008 survey, one in five American adults reported no religious identity (Kosmin & Keysar2009). This group, labeled “Nones,” do not possess a deeply held rejection of God, rather they simply lack a belief in God; their nonreligiousness is not a positive-identity, but a negative or non-identity. Third, because contemporary prejudice against Nones is chiefly negative, the alternative frameworks offered by Dixon et al. do not apply – “Paternalism” requires a sense of dependence between groups; “ambivalent prejudice” requires a modicum of benevolence; “infra-humanization,” when it occurs, is explicitly in the context of negative judgment; and, finally, the religious are rarely in a “helping relationship” with the nonreligious, certainly not one entailing “reaffirming the hierarchy.” Our research did reveal one phenomenon that could easily be mistaken for ambivalent prejudice: Parents often described their children’s lack of faith with expressions such as “it’s just a phase” or “he’ll grow out of it.” This is unlike Ambivalent Sexism (AS), in which femininity is seen as both a positive and a negative. Parents can accept children as immature; however, there is no ambivalence about the atheism, it remains purely negative. Fourth, because Nones are defined by their out-group-ness, “common identification” cannot get us to a “we” (darker side, or otherwise). In sum, discrimination against contemporary atheists and agnostics differs from more commonly studied contexts for discrimination because Nones face purely negative prejudice as a result of an easily hideable, nonsalient non-identity, which still manages to bar common identification between groups.
Contemporary non-religion lacks contextual elements crucial for enacting modern strategies for prejudice reduction
In hiding their nonreligious identity, Nones, in principle, may often be hiding to other hiders. This complicates the “social change” and “collective action” models of prejudice reduction, which assume a readily identifiable group of persecuted individuals to be approached and helped or mobilized for resistance. Even enacting the simple model of “bringing the two groups together” requires that someone know who the Nones are. But this is not known, and it is not likely to become known. Our interviews revealed, for example, parents who were suspicious about their child’s faith but did not dare ask. Instead, they simply increased pressure on their child to participate in organized religion. Thus, particular theists or atheists could be surrounded by other atheists, whom they think highly of, without this fact having an opportunity to mediate negative bias or to create group solidarity.
Even if group membership could be identified, however, it is unclear if the models discussed by Dixon et al. would apply. The heterogeneity within nonreligious groups is not like the heterogeneity within religious groups. Admittedly, when prominent atheists engage the public, this faintly resembles the “collective action” model of prejudice reduction; however, people for whom “atheist” is a salient identity fail to represent the growing number of Nones who simply do not care. In sum, existing models of prejudice reduction are unlikely to work for Nones.
Yet, these are hardly the most interesting reasons to study prejudice against Nones
The most novel prejudice-related phenomena we observed can only really occur in the context of an easily hideable trait that is not highly salient. The two factors we have found most interesting are: (a) the justifications given for hiding or revealing nonreligious identity and (b) the efforts to mitigate prejudice for the good of the prejudiced person.
Hiding without hiding
As discussed in Rowland et al. (in press), many nonreligious individuals we interviewed claimed they would not deny their nonreligious identity. However, they were also masterful at avoiding situations that risked the question, and they required the question to be blatant and direct (e.g., “Are you religious?”). From their perspective, they were not concealing their identity, despite never having revealed it. Intriguingly, this strategy was adopted by several individuals who, when asked to speculate, did not expect to suffer greatly if their identity were to become more obviously public. This leads to a question relevant to the Dixon et al. discussion: If they do not care, and expect little to no personal problems, why not voluntarily self-disclose?
Prejudging the prejudiced
We found that closeted Nones hid their identity not out of a desire to protect themselves, but out of a desire to protect their loved ones. Respondents indicated, for example, that they would not tell their mothers about their identity as a means to protect her; sparing her the discomfort that knowing might bring. The greatest concern was voiced regarding grandparents; they were viewed as too intolerant and too close to death to be burdened with such potentially horrible news. Without negative connotation, these interviewees prejudged those around them as prejudiced individuals, who would benefit if protected from the truth about the interviewee’s identity. This suggests that, although prejudice against Nones does not fit well into Dixon et al.’s discussion, the reverse-ambivalence and reverse-paternalism displayed by the Nones we interviewed fits quite nicely.
Wes Culp and Kaitlin Farnan collected and transcribed much of the data discussed.
- Edgell, P., Gertis, J. & Hartmann, D. (2006) Atheists as “Other”: Moral boundaries and cultural membership. American Sociological Review71:211–34. [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
- Kosmin, B. A. & Keysar, A. (2009) American religious identification survey, 2008: Summary report. Trinity College. [Google Scholar]
- Rowland, N. J., Long, B. & Yarrison, F. (in press) “Imagined recursivity” and stigma management among American Atheists. In: Recursion in human systems, ed. M. Orozco & Z. Beckstead .