Cultures assure that we can all live together despite our different beliefs. We learn what offends our neighbors, they learn what offends us, and, over the generations, those become shared ‘hang-ups’. From my own exchanges with other atheists, we seem more malleable than the religious, likely due to an absence of indoctrinated strictures, and will ‘give in’ to strictures for which we have no explanation. Indoctrination in atheist households will be more about getting along with others and less about why the children should avoid associating with others with ‘wrong’ beliefs. The religious seem unable to understand that about us, and, as a result, we are mistrusted despite statistics in our favor.
Regarding those statistics: I have seen a similar set from back in the 1920’s, and a newer set from 2013, read much of the criticism against them, and feel insulted by that, including that made by other atheists. The three sets (the oldest of which I can no longer find) do not show what I would call meaningful deviation from each other. I agree, and accept, their value is strictly anecdotal because method nor accuracy is verifiable. The stereotyping of atheists as “people of privilege”, however, I do find regrettable, whether it comes from the religious or from other atheists.
I am an atheist, for which I feel blessed by (not for) my own troublesome curiosity and need to know. I have never been a person of privilege. I have seldom been around people of privilege. That kind of person would hurry past me, eyes turned away, lest he or she might somehow get contaminated by having to acknowledge my existence. My parents were poor, of minimal education (Dad was in-or-past fourth grade when my grandmother died and he had to leave school), and very religious. Surrounded by religion pushers of every ilk and the inevitable never ending controversy, I never dared to take even my own parents’ word for which version of truth would keep me from getting cast into the eternal fire pit after my life ended.
Fear perpetuates religion. FEAR steered me out from it. The only people of privilege I know much about are still in it, using it to their own advantage, and being a threat to people like me, of which I surely cannot be the only one. So, whoever distrusts the only statistics that we have, I will personally thank you for gathering up data that you do trust, and presenting it some way that we can also trust.