Date of Award
Master of Arts
Although religion has long been a topic closely tied to politics and academic scholarship, it was not until the 21st Century that academics seriously turned their attention to issues pertaining to the nonbelievers. This inquiry is part of the budding scholarship that focuses on the atheists within the United States, and is the first of my knowledge to specifically explore the patriotic character of antipathy toward these citizens. Patriotic acts, symbolism, and rhetoric are often juxtaposed with references to deism, and attacks leveled at atheists frequently employ patriotic references. I contend these phenomena are not coincidental. On the contrary, I hypothesize that American patriotism propagates dislike for the nonreligious, as deism is so routinely drawn upon during patriotic practices, and nonbelievers are a small, largely unidentifiable minority. Empirical support for this supposition is provided through data from the General Social Survey, yet future research should be aimed at parsing out the effect of patriotism on anti-atheist attitudes - potentially in an experimental setting. Nonetheless, this analysis provides insight into the origin of negative attitudes toward nonreligious Americans, and reveals potential inroads to stifling the most socially accepted animosity toward a religious minority in America.
Matthew Laird Milne
Milne, Matthew Laird, "Athesis: Patriotism and antipathy toward nonbelievers in the United States" (2012). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 12552.