Intrigued by a poll of U.S. voters that showed most Americans wouldn’t elect an atheist President, social psychologists at the University of British Columbia decided to poll Canadians to see what they thought on non-believers,
So they polled both U.S. citizens and Canadian students about their attitudes towards members of different religions as well as other groups, ranging from gays and feminists to criminals.
Randy Shore reports the results for the Vancouver Sun:
The only group the study’s participants distrusted as much as atheists was rapists, said doctoral student Will Gervais, lead author of the study published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
“People are willing to hire an atheist for a job that is perceived as low-trust, for instance as a waitress,” said Gervais. “But when hiring for a high-trust job like daycare worker, they were like, nope, not going to hire an atheist for that job.”
The antipathy does not seem to run both ways, though. Atheists are indifferent to religious belief when it comes to deciding who is trustworthy.
“Atheists don’t necessarily favour other atheists over Christians or anyone else,” he said. “They seem to think that religion is not an important signal for who you can trust.”
[E]ven in more secular Canada, distrust of atheists ran high.
Gee, we thought it was our breath.
Gervais concluded that folks are simply more inclined to trust someone who believed they had a powerful invisible friend watching their every move, and, as the song says, “makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice.”