Study finds wide distrust of atheists

EUGENE, Ore., Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A study of adults in the United States and students in Canada found that most do not trust atheists to make moral choices.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia and University of Oregon surveyed 350 people in the United States and 420 in Canada, Religion News Service reported. Azim Shariff of the University of Oregon, one of the co-authors, called the results "pretty remarkable."


"People find atheists very suspect," Shariff said. "They don't fear God so we should distrust them; they do not have the same moral obligations of others. This is a common refrain against atheists. People fear them as a group."

The researchers asked their subjects to decide whether a person who failed to report hitting a parked car while driving and then found a wallet and kept it was more likely to be a teacher, a teacher who had raped someone or an atheist teacher. The atheist teacher was the most common choice.

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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