Remember when zealots tried to smear the atheist community as sexist and misogynistic? I do! We would get endless blogposts, articles and even stories in the press saying the atheist movement was rife with misogyny, bringing up a couple of anecdotes taken out of context (or YouTube videos where all sensible comments were deleted to let the availability heuristic do it’s thing) and get more people outraged and led to believe atheists just wanted to keep women oppressed.
Now, in 2022, the US Supreme Court has a drafted decision that would overturn Roe v Wade, the 50-year old decision that effectively allowed women to interrupt their pregnancies in the States — misogyny has won the war on women.
Funny enough, now that it’s all hands on deck (and believe me, it is), facts matter again and, would you look at that? Here we have Phil Zuckerman dropping a lot of mind-numbingly statistics on how atheists are consistently and reliably pro-women’s rights… which was already pretty common knowledge some 10 years ago:
Those who are most starkly opposed to such regressive, immoral legislation, and most supportive of a woman’s right to decide what goes on in her uterus, are the secular among us. Atheists, agnostics, humanists, and the generally postreligious take the most ethically sound, position when it comes to women’s reproductive rights.
- While a clear majority of Americans (57%) believe that, in most cases, abortion should remain legal, 87% of atheists agnostics hold to such a position and 67% of those who are “nothing in particular” do so as well.
- 72% of nonreligious Americans agree that abortion should remain legal in all or most cases, compared to only 30% of White Evangelicals, 41% of Hispanic Catholics, and 51% of Muslims.
- 90% of atheists, 84% of agnostics, and 73% of “nothing in particulars” support a woman’s right to an abortion as a matter of choice, compared to 39% of Mormons, 50% of White Catholics, and 58% of Mainline Protestants.
- Only 6% of atheists and agnostics believe in making abortion illegal in all cases—the lowest rates of any religious orientation.
- A 2020 FFRF poll found that 8% of engaged secular activists support abortion rights.
Zooming out to the state level, we see that those states in America with the most secular populations—such as Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and New Hampshire—have the best, most enlightened protections of women’s reproductive rights, while those states with most religious populations—such as Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Louisiana—are those states with the worst protections.
Internationally, highly secular societies are the best at ensuring abortion rights, while the most religious are the worst. Additionally, most societies increase women’s rights — including abortion rights — as they secularize; Ireland and Argentina are recent cases in point.
I think we all should be worried about women in the US losing the right to decide over their own bodies; not just because it’s wrong, but also because —like it or not— whatever happens in the US still carries a lot of weight internationally.
And I certainly understand the impulse to say, “Didn’t you just call us sexist to score some political points while destroying the atheist community? Well, why would you want my help now?“, but that would be the wrong thing to do. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and half of America’s population don’t deserve to get their rights amputated just because a lot of atheist ‘activists’ were in it all along for clout instead of the principle. Why would anyone want to stoop to their level is beyond me.
What I do know for sure is that, regardless of what happens with the abortion issue, there will come a time when bigots like PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, Hemant Mehta and their ilk will bring up again the myth that atheists are a bunch of misogynists, and will point to their anecdotes taken out of context to make their point. Just make sure you point back to the actual data that Zuckerman has so kindly shared.
(Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash)