Searching for Atheist K-12 Teachers Who Fall Into These Particular Demographics…

Craig and Aimee Howley at Ohio University are doing research on K-12 teachers/administrators who are also non-religious. I’ve posted before about a project they’re working on, but there are still a few groups of people they haven’t heard from yet. If you’re out there, please consider reaching out to them!

As some followers of the Friendly Atheist may remember, we are conducting a study of the experiences of non-believer (atheist, agnostic, humanist) teachers in schools located primarily in the United States. We are trying to get as full a picture as possible of the experience of being an atheist teacher in America, and — despite having interviewed 80 teachers — we’re still missing people from some very important backgrounds:

– Culturally Jewish
– African American
– Conservative Republican

If you belong to any of these groups and are willing to participate in a telephone interview that will last about an hour, please contact Aimee Howley, Ohio University, Educational Studies Department — howley@ohio.edu.


About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • revyloution

    Ok, I know there must be some teachers of African descent, and culturally Jewish, but I think the number of atheists who are also conservative and Republican is as near zero as possible. The confluence of modern conservatism is simply at odds with getting a college degree and taking a job that pays less than just about any other professional career.

    • AskAnAtheistBecky

      Private school headmaster? Maybe?? Methinks they should post on the National Association of Independent Schools flyers, conferences, and website.

    • kelemi

      I worked in a chemical lab in 1966. Many of the chemists there were conservative and atheist. It wasn’t until Ronnie that conservatives shunned atheists.

      • revyloution

        Ive always been godless, and I identified myself as conservative up through the Clinton years. Conservatism used to mean (IMHO) “OK, the Liberals are trying to save baby whales again. Sure, lets avoid killing baby whales, but their plan will kill 10,000 jobs. Let’s see if we can find a more business friendly solution that will save some whales AND preserve our economy.”

        I’ve left the right wing behind. Today, all they care about is grabbing as much cash as they can, and hiding behind an arsenal of guns.

        Bring back Barry Goldwater, I say. (Well, Mark Hatfield really. He was my biggest political hero.)

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      There are some Randites who are conservative, Republican, and Atheist; a little easier if you’re only looking for the “don’t believe God exists” rather than self-identified Atheists (and thus, able to look among those self-identifying as religiously affiliated). I’d look particularly in Social Studies departments, asking in private — and after a few shots of hard liquor.

      Overall, roughly 7% of the country self-identifies as Republican and either conservative and strongly conservative; among those who don’t believe in God, it’s more like 2½%. (GSS variables PARTYID, POLVIEWS, and GOD.) Anecdata and this suggest that there’s not much difference between teachers and the national electorate on political lean or party affiliation.

      Given this, I suspect it will be much harder to find the black atheist teachers.

      The difficulty finding atheist teachers who are at least culturally Jewish, however, surprises me slightly. I’d guess it’s because Jews are now an even smaller fraction of the population than atheists, leaving the overlap minute.

      • revyloution

        I’m sure there are plenty of the Libertarian types who identify as both godless and conservative, I just don’t see many of them pursuing teaching as a career.

    • UWIR

      Conservative and Republican seems within the realm of possibility, but if “conservative Republican” means “conservative, even for a Republican”, then it seems even less likely to me.

    • Ian

      I used to be a conservative Republican Southern Baptist. Now I’m an atheist Libertarian. I have seen the truth, and the truth has set me free!

  • Arthur Dent

    I took part in one of these phone interviews several months ago. It was actually a very rewarding experience as I don’t get many chances to talk about my atheism offline. Very kind and courteous interviewer with excellent probing questions.

  • kelemi

    Several states have laws forbidding atheists from holding government jobs, possibly including public school teachers. They include: Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Pennsylvania,

    • SinginDiva721

      It’s funny because when I was a teacher, I taught in schools in Maryland and Pennsylvania and was most definitely atheist and wasn’t afraid to admit it either. Feels good to know I broke the law! :-)

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      Torcaso v Watkins leaves all such laws unenforceable, and federal Civil Rights laws leave any attempt to enforce those grounds for a federal lawsuit.

      However, the laws tend to be symptomatic of a hostile climate, which atheists might well choose to avoid.

    • UWIR

      I wonder what would happen if a teacher were to refuse to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance.

      • kelemi

        So do I.

        I grew up in Yonkers, NY. They phased out the school reciting it in the early 1950s, as well as the state prayer, before the Madeline Murray supreme court decision.

  • Lurker111

    You won’t be able to poll the conservative Republican atheists, as both are currently on sabbatical.

  • Paula M Smolik

    I wonder why you’re missing the last two. hahaha And as long as I’m referred to as white, the word is black.

  • Don Gwinn

    I don’t know whether they’d consider me a “conservative Republican.” I’m registered as a Republican and vote for more Republicans than Democrats, so . . . maybe? Most of my conservative friends consider me somewhere between a libertarian and a “liberal,” and most of my progressive friends consider me somewhere between libertarian and “conservative.”


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