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Atheists Are Everywhere

Posted by Staks Rosch on

Every now and then, one might notice a woman wearing a burqa or hijab at the mall, grocery store, or just out in public. It is a little jarring to see. One effect that this has is that it instantly lets us know that this person is a Muslim and therefore holds to certain values. But I think it should tell us something else too. I think it should tell us that atheists are everywhere.

According to the American Religious Indentification Survey, in the United States of America, .6 percent of the population is Muslim. Assuming that the gender ratio is equal to the general population, .3 percent of Muslims are women. Atheists and Agnostics make up 1.6 percent of the general population and 15 percent of Americans stating that they have no religion. Plus there is an additional 5 percent who refused to answer the question. And that is a pretty conservative number for atheists. According to the Global Index of Religion and Atheism, “Convinced Atheists” in the United States is up to 5 percent. So for every Muslim woman that you see, there are might be anywhere between 5 to 16 “confirmed atheists” that you don’t see.

Then there are the people who don’t identify as an atheist for a variety of reason, but who don’t believe in any deities. So while they may not identify themselves as atheists or agnostics, they in fact are atheists. They are part of that 15 percent of “no religion” or “nones.” When you think about it this way, for every Muslim woman you see, there are probably about 20 to 25 atheists that you don’t see.

For every Jewish guy wearing a yamaka, there could be six or more “confirmed atheists.” Probably much more because most Jews don’t actually wear their yamaka except at synagogue services. So if you see a Jewish guy in the general public wearing a yamaka, that isn’t representative of all Jewish men -- just the orthodox men. For every 16 Christians there is at least one atheist. So start counting crucifies.

Unlike many religious believers, most atheists don’t wear their atheism out in public for all to see. So people don’t see us and we don’t see each other. Over the years, I have gotten quite a few positive comments from other atheists whenever I have been out in public wearing an atheist themed shirt or a shirt promoting secular and/or scientific values. Atheists who were not generally vocal about their lack of belief have become more vocal just by seeing my atheist themed shirt in public.

Then there are the religious believers who see the atheist themed shirts in public. Interestingly enough, there was actually a study that showed that just thinking about analytic thinking can decrease religious belief.

Atheists need to start being more visible. This doesn’t mean we should wear some sort of restrictive attire or start wearing funny hats or an image of a torture device around our necks, but it does mean that we should start wearing our atheism on our sleeves more. We should start wearing shirts that support our ideas, values, and memes. We need to be more visible.

Not all of those ideas need to be in-your-face either. ReasonistInk.com has lots of great shirts and some of them are more subtle than others. For example, there is a shirt that just says, “Got Reason?” or one of my favorites, “I heart science,” with an image of a human heart. I love shirts like these because they aren’t in-your-face. Another atheist will see it and realize that I am probably an atheist with a shirt like that, but it isn’t going to get me punched in the face by some over-zealous religious wacko who feels the need to defend the honor of their all-powerful deity. Yet it still represents my values.

Still, sometimes it is good to wear a shirt that makes it absolutely crystal clear that we are not drinking the Kool-Aid. Their Twitter-inspired shirt that says, “Unfollow God” or their Facebook-inspired “I Unliked Jesus” are great for making those kinds of statements.

Just imagine if every atheist started wearing atheist themed shirts out in public. People would start to notice, attitudes toward atheists would start to change, and politicians would be more likely to take our values into consideration when enacting legislation. We can make the world a better place just by wearing a t-shirt. How awesome is that?

Staks Rosch writes the Dangerous Talk blog on the Skeptic Ink Network (SIN), the National Atheism Examiner on Examiner.com, and is a contributing blogger on Huffington Post