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Atheists are the Most Politically Active Group in the United States

Apr 14, 2020

By Ryan P. Burge, Eastern Illinois University

It’s become almost a trope at this point among people who study and write about American religion and politics – evangelicals punch way above their weight. Their voter turnout has stayed relatively steady despite their drop in population share. But, I was working through some data today and noticed something that I don’t think that I’ve seen reported on much – atheists are incredibly politically active – more so than any other religious group.

The Cooperative Congressional Election Survey asks a series of questions about political activity in the last 12 months. Respondents simply answer yes or no to each of the six. Here are the results from the 2018 data.

In all six scenarios, atheists are right near the top in likelihood to participate. A quarter attended a march or protest compared to just 4.4% of white evangelicals. Four in ten atheists have contacted a public official or donated money to a candidate. That’s tied with Jews, but is much higher than most Christian groups in the sample. Agnostics are not far behind, either. They usually trail atheists but just a few percentage points for each of the political actions.

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