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How and why are atheists stereotyped?

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I'm not sure that atheists do have a bad reputation. In my country, atheists can become prime ministers, so clearly the beliefs of our politicians are not held against them. It seems that the role of atheists must be to teach the Christians around them the virtues of tolerance and charity towards others. Then, we can say that Christians no longer choose to stereotype atheists and give them a bad reputation.
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For one thing, some people think they don't have any morals. Well, I'm an atheist, and try to make this world a tiny better place. Just like most people, religious or not, I guess.


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I never knew they were stereotyped. Me neither.

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When people know nothing about a issue they are generally to lazy to do any investigation into it. To hide their ignorance they adopt an easily learned stereotype (All pitbulls are vicious. All Mexican food is too spicy. All Chinese products are shoddy) and state it with great conviction - as if it is their opinion and result of much study.
How are we stereotyped? Generally we are seen as denying the "truth", afraid or ignorant of the facts, dangerous, immoral, untrustworthy, self centered, unpatriotic, stupid, communists, nihilists, anarchists, a conspiracy ... the list goes on.

Although some showboating atheists (like showboating evangelists) make a lot of noise about their opinions - most are content to in their own knowledge that there is no god - like children who have figured out that there is no Santa or monster under the bed. It is just another fact in a fact filled world. Evangelism is not a big atheist trait.

Atheists in our society have a tendency to hide their opinions - some folks try to convert us, others try to lump us in with Hitler and Stalin, others flat out don't believe our position. Granted this is better than the old response of letting us convert or die. This lack of everyday examples of "normal" atheists leads many folks to have only the stereotype to go by. Since the stereotype is generally so poisonous, many non-atheists would not be seen reading books on, or researching, atheist thinking for fear of being taken for "one of them"
The truth is that many folks you know and respect may well be atheists. We are in all lines of work, come in all colours, both sexes, young, old, grumpy and friendly. Our common bond is that we have independently thought our way through tough questions (Is there a god(s), is there a life after death, is there good and evil) and come to conclusions different from others in our society.
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Some people even mix up their stereotypes mixing atheists with satanist. with claiming atheists use the imagery of Satan and 666 as a culture shock to religious people. Obviously ATHEISTS don't believe in SATAN or GOD so it is a very stupid stereotype
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They are stereotyped the same way everything else is stereotyped in this country. Through ignorance. I am not an Atheist, but some of the stereotypes i have herd is that they believe in science over God, they ridicule Religious people and things of that nature. How are atheists stereotyped? Well, much as any other group of people is stereotyped. They are grouped together, and categorized as believing the same thing. This is not true. There are 6.8 billion people on this planet and just as many individual opinions. There may be similarities between what people believe, but it is impossible for everyone, or even any two to believe exactly the same thing. The differences of their personal experiences and how those have colored their individual perceptions has precluded that.
It was suggested above that atheists and satanists are often "mixed" together. I suspect that is true. It is a common tenet of any organized religion or school of thought to put those who disagree with their particular brand of thinking into the same pot. Those who are not with us are against us after all. This is natural human behavior. People are paranoid and separatist or exclusionary by nature. We, quite frankly, are cliquish .
One responder suggested that the stereotype is rooted in ignorance. True to a point. Stereotypes like myths spring from some grain of fact. That is not to say that all stereotypes are true, or even any. This is not a defense for stereotypes either. Just an observation. It would be just as accurate to say that stereotypes spring from stupidity (ignorance is the condition of not knowing, stupidity is the choice to not know or to ignore the truth).
To say that an atheist has no morals is, perhaps, an example of what has been suggested in this answer. To say that, could also be an example of defensiveness on the part of one or some who espouse atheistic thought. Perhaps a little of both. Perhaps neither.
What this boils down to is the second part of the question, why. Well, it goes deep to the core of human behavior; call it instinct. If a member of the pack is presented with anything that is alien to his pack, he will fight it or run from it. Humans are pack animals. We group ourselves according to what we think, what we believe, what we know, how we live, how we dress, what we drive, what we do, and an infinite number of other unimportant and superficial things. We focus on what is different. We obsess about it. And, by doing so, we accomplish a couple of things. First, we ingratiate ourselves with the group to which we want to belong, or attempt to. Second, we avoid looking at the things within ourselves that we do not like and want no one else to see, or, again, attempt to. Neither can truly be successful.
Are stereotypes wrong? Maybe, maybe not. How many examples of stereotypical behavior do you see in the responses above? Maybe, stereotypes are just a thing that people do, and it matters less that people stereotype than it does how others respond to it.
One final thought: consider that every time one engages in stereotyping, he is performing a physical act of oxymoronic behavior; placing a stereotype on another person IS in itself stereotypical behavior.
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