ATHEISTS: CONSISTENT IN BEING IMMORAL. Via John Derbyshire, I find The Christian Post is reporting that a recent survey by the Barna Group shows evangelical Christians and atheists exhibit the most consistency between their faith and practice. Of course, for atheists, this means a "fundamental dismissal of social conventions and participation in favor of more self-centered views and behaviors helped them to stand out from the crowd in a different way."

A few thoughts: First, coverage like this makes it less than surprising that atheists are perhaps the most stigmatized group in the country. A 2006 article in the American Sociological Review found they are more distrusted than Muslims, gay people, and other groups large numbers of Americans are leery of. People view them as "other" in a way that doesn't seem to make sense in a society becoming more tolerant of various faiths. The ASR article, however, argues this is precisely why atheists are stigmatized: With tolerance increasing for a variety of beliefs, the all-purpose target becomes non-belief.

Second, prior to reading this article I wasn't familiar with the Barna Group. According to their website, their goal is to "provide leadership and unique, strategic information and resources that help facilitate spiritual transformation in America." The Wikipedia article on founder George Barna claims his group's polls are "the most quoted polls within Evangelical circles." And, somewhat obviously: "They are generally interpreted from an evangelical perspective."

--Steven White