I don't know if this is good news or not.
In any case, I recently ran across a bit of interesting news courtesy of the Gallup organization. As it turns out atheists may not be the most disliked group after all. We appear to have been beaten out by Scientologists:
As you can see, atheists were rated negatively 45% of the time while Scientologists rated negatively 52% of the time. So, it's nice to know we're not as disliked as people who routinely brainwash their members. On the other hand, atheists are rated favorably 13% of the time while Scientologists only manage 7%. I can't say that this makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside but, hey, I'll take what I can get.
As you look over the scores for the other religious groups I'd just like to make an additional observation: I think the scores for evangelical and fundamentalist Christians are very interesting. Specifically, note the percent who gave them neutral ratings, which is much lower than any other group except Scientologists. Likewise, the percentage that gives them negative ratings is much higher than for any of the mainstream faiths (e.g. Catholics, Baptists, Methodists). Additionally, however, the percent giving them positive ratings is also quite good, easily outstripping Mormons. So, it looks to me that when we're looking at Muslims, atheists, and Scientologists there is a fair consensus against these groups. When looking at Methodists, Jews, Baptists and Catholics there is consensus in favor of these groups. But, when it comes to evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, what we actually see is a degree of polarization: either people like these groups, or they don't, but they aren't generally that ambivalent about them.*
I'm forced to wonder if this is a result of the foray into politics made by fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity in recent decades. Rather than bringing a moral** element to politics, perhaps the main effect has been to poison the religious well by driving the faithful deeper into the fold and shoving those with other views even further towards the margins.***
Just a thought.
* Mormons, of course, are the very picture of ambivalence as almost half of the population is neutral and the positive and negaitve views are fairly evenly split.
** Absurd, really, since politics in our country is more or less always a collision of different ethical systems and beliefs. To assert that your faith must return morality to government reflects a breathtaking degree of egotism.
*** As defined by evangelicals and fundamentalists, anyway. Those "margins" may often just be the heart of other faiths.