by Ariela Keysar, Associate director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture and associate research professor of public policy and law at Trinity College.
Atheists and Agnostics are fringe populations in U.S. society. Considered by many to be deviant, Atheists are a distrusted group. According to a Gallup Poll from September 2006, a vast majority of the public (84 percent) thinks that Americans are not ready to elect an Atheist as president. Although Atheists and Agnostics are tiny minority groups, the attention they attract, particularly from the religious right, warrants a better understanding of exactly who they are in terms of social characteristics such as gender, age, educational level, ethnicity and political preferences.