It would be useful to ask the “atheist boy-friend in your family” question in other countries, and especially so in South Asia. In India, it may be meaningful to substitute “atheist” with “communist” (it would be equally interesting to ask Americans the “communist boy-friend” question). Finally, it would be nice to know the man/woman split on these questions.
It may be the case (as we have seen before) that Americans equate atheism with lack of morality. An interesting what-if for the Pew people- what if the question set was re-phrased/updated to clarify that an atheist boy-friend can have high morals (or a believer boy-friend may lack morals).
One of the questions Pew
asks to gauge how seriously people are taking their identity politics
these days is how upset would you be if an immediate family member—say, a
child or a sibling—married someone outside of your identity parameters.
The good news: Americans are okay with their family members marrying
someone who isn’t in their “tribe.”
There are all different kinds of tribes, of course. When it came, for
instance, to the question of how you’d feel if your family member
married someone with a different party affiliation, the vast majority of
Americans responded that they’d feel either “happy” or that it “doesn’t
Even for strict partisans, this was mostly true. Strong
conservatives approved of a family member marrying a Democrat 70 percent
of the time and strong liberals approved of marrying a Republican 78
percent of the time. Similar numbers turned up for identity markers like
“gun ownership” or “went to college,” with most people being
indifferent to these factors when it comes to bringing new people to
family holiday dinners.
Other good news is that opposition to interracial marriage, at least
overt opposition, is also fairly low, with only 11 percent of Americans
balking at the idea of a new family member of a different race.
And Americans are even more welcoming to foreigners, with only 7 percent
of respondents opposing marriage to someone born and raised outside of
There’s one group, however, that continues to cause fear and loathing across the land: atheists.