One more result from the new report (PDF) put out by Brookings and the Public Religion Research Institute.
It seems that the younger generation (18-30) is far more accepting of minorities of all kinds — including atheists — than those Americans 65 and older:
… there is a relationship to education as well: 42 percent of those with no more than a high school education see the Bible as God’s literal word, a figure that falls by two-thirds to only 14 percent among those with postgraduate education. Young people are far more approving of atheists than are other age cohorts: 56 percent of them express completely or mostly favorable opinions of those who reject God’s existence, versus only 35 percent of seniors. Here again, education makes a difference: only 34 percent of those with a high school diploma or less are favorable toward atheists, a figure that rises to 57 percent among college graduates and 66 percent among postgraduates.
Is anyone surprised by that? The more educated you are, the more contact you’re going to have with other educated people who don’t believe in a god — and the more contact you have with atheists, the more you understand where we’re coming from. This isn’t to suggest there are no religious people in higher education (or dumb atheists, for that matter). But as you meet more atheists, it’s increasingly harder to demonize us. That’s all.
That’s why it’s so important for all of us to come out to people we trust. Start small and work your way up — to the point where you don’t even feel shy telling an acquaintance about your beliefs (if the topic arises).
One more finding about perceptions of atheists:
A plurality of Democrats (49 percent) and independents (49 percent) and majorities of Millennials (56 percent), non-Christian religiously affiliated Americans (62 percent), and religiously unaffiliated Americans (68 percent) hold a favorable view of atheists. Conversely, less than 4-in-10 Republicans (38 percent), seniors (35 percent), white evangelicals (28 percent) and black Protestants (26 percent) hold positive views of atheists.
Only 68% of religiously unaffiliated Americans hold a favorable view of atheists?! I’m not expecting high numbers anywhere on this list, but even that is a lot lower than I would’ve imagined… I wonder why that is.