General Question

Mandeblind's avatar

Does being an atheist celebrity have risks?

Asked by Mandeblind (420points) April 3rd, 2012 from iPhone

For a famous musician or actress to speak up about religion badly, etc…

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

32 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Most atheists don’t speak out badly about belief in God and religion. So, do you mean celebrities who simply are willing to state they are atheists. Or, those who kind of put down those who are religious or make a point to say they don’t thank God when they win an award, etc. Or, liberal celebrities who criticize the religious right in their political goals? What exactly do you have in mind?

I think it’s great atheists are more “out” now. I hope if religion is going to be talked about that the atheists speak up. If religion was a very private matter in America, and left to only affecting our own lives and beliefs, then religion or lack of would be a non issue.

thorninmud's avatar

If you’re asking whether it would damage their career, seems like that would depend a lot on their genre. I’m pretty sure that a country singer who came out as an atheist would alienate a whole lot of fans. In plenty of other genres, though, it might actually help.

jazmina88's avatar

we are all entitled to our beliefs and to voice them.

If they have a Christian base, they could be smited

But the only real risk is Hell, for not believing.

The_Idler's avatar

Probably in some of the more backwards or narrow-minded and parochial cultures of the world, like those of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, The Vatican, or the United States.

The_Idler's avatar

Italy and Poland are also very religious.

I don’t think it would really matter in most significant countries.

The_Idler's avatar

Even in the US, though, it’s unlikely to damage your career as a popular scientist.

Does anyone know how many Senators have ever been non-religious? I reckon about zero.

It’s definitely not a wise political decision to reveal your atheism, and I suppose that’s a decent representation of public attitude.

marinelife's avatar

I can’t imagine it would. There are celebrities of all different beliefs. most of them don’t make a big deal of it nor should they.

Tom Cruise Scientology
Madonna Cabala
Tim Tebow Christian
Richard Gere Buddhist
Al Roker Catholic
Andy Rooney Atheist

JLeslie's avatar

Lord, @The_Idler put the US in with Saudi and Afghanastan. Not that I am arguing the US is not ridiculously provincial and puritanical, at least part of the country. Still, that other countries group us in with countries that don’t allow women to drive. Depressing.

ragingloli's avatar

@JLeslie what about being in the same group as the vatican? That is even more insulting!

JLeslie's avatar

@ragingloli The Vatican seemed to me a ridiculous country/state/city to put on the list to begin with. The Vatican is the Catholic church.

The_Idler's avatar

I think Christian America is far more afraid of atheists, than of other religions.
Perhaps Muslims are as feared as the atheists.

According to Wikipedia, there is single Senator, who is non-Jewish & non-Christian….
They follow Scientology. Scary.

@JLeslie The Vatican is a nation-state, with a culture not likely to allow atheists to succeed as public figures. The USA isn’t as bad as some of the Muslim nations, in terms of levels of personal freedom, but vast swathes of it are fairly comparable, in terms of public attitudes to atheism.

Brian1946's avatar


“Does anyone know how many Senators have ever been non-religious? I reckon about zero.”

There’s a rumor that we have one congress person who’s an atheist, but they’ve chosen to remain anonymous.

JLeslie's avatar

@The_Idler I agree a scary amount of Americans would never vote for an atheist, but in terms of living next door to one, there isn’t much problem. They may make wrong assumptions about atheists, but most people are very tolerant.

The_Idler's avatar

I’d expect a fair proportion of them would be non-religious actually, the point is that they all have to keep it a secret.

So I suppose the answer to the OQ is “Not if you keep it a secret” – and for some it may be OK to admit atheism, but there’s no way most celebrities could get away with actually speaking badly of religion in general.

Ron_C's avatar

I’ve read that a homosexual child molester is more likely to be elected to office than an atheist. That is probably true. There are some famous people like Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins that are outspoken atheists but most of use keep a low profile. I like in a very Catholic city. I mentioned, to our secretary that not only did I doubt the divinity of Jesus, I doubted his existence. She was literally shock speechless. I am pretty sure the if I was publicly announced as an atheist, that farmers with torches and pitchforks would show up to drive me out of town.

King_Pariah's avatar

Bruce Willis did cap on religion, I don’t believe he received any notable bad press or boo’s from the unthinking majority.

LostInParadise's avatar

I did a quick Web search and found this, for what it is worth.

sinscriven's avatar

You don’t even have to be atheist, even merely suggesting that God is not sarcosanct or an alternate opinion from religous dogma will get you into a world of hell.

Miley Cyrus tweets a quote about the beauty of indestructible matter making all of us the product of stardust, and Christians made her into a pariah.

Blackberry's avatar

There’s quite a list of outed atheist celebrities, many of them popular.

JLeslie's avatar

In a way I find it odd we have lists of atheists. At the same time I find it interesting to look at lists of Jewish actors, so maybe it is the same sort of thing.

The_Idler's avatar

While on the topic, according to wikipedia:

Proportion of US population non-religious: 16%
Proportion of US Senate non-religious: 0%

Proportion of US population Jewish: 1.7%
Proportion of US Senate Jewish: 12%

Oh, and I found one person in all congress, who is atheist. Pete Stark D-CA
To be honest, I’m shocked.

The_Idler's avatar

Considering how tough a time the Jews have had from Euro-Christians over the centuries, the fact they are now infinitely more represented in the Senate than non-religious people says quite something about public sentiment in the USA, I think.

I reckon a lot of conservative Christians have a hard time trusting atheists, whereas they seem to be a lot more accepting and trusting of the Jews than anyone could have predicted in any century before this one…

Maybe the atheists are like a common enemy =P

JLeslie's avatar

@The_Idler I didn’t realize so many senators were Jewish. And, we are now below 2% of the US population? That dropped since last I looked! It used to be 2.5%.

JLeslie's avatar

@The_Idler Oh, probably some of those Jews in Congress are atheists.

The_Idler's avatar

That said, all the Jews I’ve met have been pretty socially liberal, far from ideological comrades of your typical Republican, but then… i haven’t met any American Jews.

The_Idler's avatar

@JLeslie Yeah I though that too.

The_Idler's avatar

I mean the atheist Jews.

JLeslie's avatar

@The_Idler There are a few Jews in Congress who are very religious, observant Jews, but most are reformed.

Brian1946's avatar

Both of our Senators (Dianne Feinstein, Babs Boxer) and my representative (Brad Sherman), are Jewish and progressive, I’m happy to say.

JLeslie's avatar

@The_Idler Most Christians have no idea so many Jews are atheists. And, American Christians are generally obsessed with support of Israel, so anyway, they assume Jewish people are theists, and nothing is questioned or said on the topic of religion generally regarding Jews I would think. With the exception of when Al Gore chose Liberman as a running mate, people wondered out loud if he would not work on the Sabbath even if there was a war breaking out or something dire. Totally idiotic question onviously. But, most Christians I knew really liked Lieberman. I personally was not happy Gore chose him. I found him too “right wing” on some issues I really cared about.

The_Idler's avatar

Yeah, the Jews I’ve met have basically told me their cultural traditions are waaaaaay more important (in terms of ones Jewishness) than their religion (well, ‘faith’ in it).

Like I said though, none were American. All I had to go by there would be the media stereotype of them mostly being middle-class liberal intelligentsia. In which case, I suppose I would expect a high proportion of non-religious…

I wouldn’t know what to think when it comes to the ruling classes though, they’re a queer breed by definition.

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