“Whining atheist” stereotype

Charlotte Allen of the right-wing Manhattan Institute has an op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times, “Atheists: No God, no reason, just whining.” (Thanks to Eddie Tabash for the heads-up.)

It’s not much worthy of attention except for its airing of some common stereotypes about nonbelief the wave of “new atheism” seems to have activated. Allen describes atheists, represented by Dawkins, Hitchens & Co., as angry, whiners, suffering from a persecution complex, intellectually shallow, etc. etc.

Thing is, I agreed to give a folklore colloquium on campus in the Fall semester. (Yes, I do carry interdisciplinarity to the point of madness.) I figured I could best make some connection to folklore if I brought in a pop-culture stereotypes angle. The title of my talk is “Angry Atheists and Soulless Scientists: Stereotypes of nonbelief in the era of the ‘New Atheism.'”

In other words, I should be collecting stereotypes about nonbelievers, especially those current in the media and those activated by the new atheism. Articles like Allen’s are helpful examples.

While I’m at it, do you have any suggestions about stereotypes that strike you as being very prominent? I welcome comments.

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