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Who Are the “New Atheists”?

Part of the Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies book series (BOREFRRERE,volume 2)


In this chapter I first attempt to discern what proportion of individuals in the US who do not believe in god or a higher power exhibit the characteristics of “New Atheists.” The growing body of literature on New Atheism suggests such individuals have three characteristics: disbelief in the supernatural, reliance on and affinity toward science, and a critical view of religion. Using data from the 2007 Pew US Religious Landscape Survey, I employed a 2-step cluster analysis employing three key questions to determine that between 70 % and 80 % of individuals who report not believing in a god or higher power in the US exhibit the characteristics of New Atheists. The rest of the chapter then examines the demographics of these “New Atheists” in contrast to “other atheists,” the nonreligious, and a variety of religious groups. New Atheists tend to be highly educated, fairly affluent, are disproportionately male, white, and liberal in their politics. Yet, they are not as young as are “other atheists.” The chapter concludes with implications for the growth of atheism in the US based on these demographic characteristics.


  • Religious Group
  • Religious Service
  • Political Ideology
  • Public Life
  • Critical Attitude

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-09602-5_12
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Correspondence to Ryan T. Cragun .

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Cragun, R.T. (2015). Who Are the “New Atheists”?. In: G. Beaman, L., Tomlins, S. (eds) Atheist Identities - Spaces and Social Contexts. Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies, vol 2. Springer, Cham.

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