This shows remarkable progress, a nine-point increase from 2007 and 36 points higher than the 18 percent acceptability figure that nonbelievers received when the question was first asked in 1958. Clearly, seculars are making huge strides in gaining acceptance. If the trend continues, we can expect that other open nonbelievers may soon join Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) as elected lawmakers in the nation's capital.
The bad news, however, is that atheists still rank lowest among the groups listed. Muslims (58 percent), gays and lesbians (68 percent) and Mormons (80 percent) all ranked higher. While no fair and rational observer would suggest that membership in any of those groups should disqualify a candidate for office, to secular activists it is nevertheless troubling that nonbelievers still occupy the cellar of American public opinion.
Obviously, atheists and humanists have a long way to go to remove the stigma that the public and media irrationally attach to religious skepticism. But since secularity is quite prevalent among young Americans, where recent numbers show that religious affiliation and belief are very low among those under 30, it is reasonable to believe that the vilification of the atheism will diminish over time.