Tom arcaro's Blog (48)

President Obama's inauguration speech and references to God

President Obama's inauguration speech and references to God

(This is also posted on

I listened to President Obama's inauguration speech with interest today because I believe myself to be a responsible American citizen. How he frames his next term is important to me and all citizens of the United States and, indeed, to everyone around the world. But I also listened to his speech to see how often and in what ways he would…


Added by tom arcaro on January 21, 2013 at 4:30pm — 4 Comments

Morality and Newtown.

Here is the link to the page with the "mini-poll" on morality:

One of the very first questions in the survey deals with morality:  ”How do you view the morality of religious believers as compared to the morality of atheists?”  To date, there have been over 7600 respondents to the survey and over 3300 have added comments after selecting their…


Added by tom arcaro on January 1, 2013 at 10:44am — 4 Comments

Though it was down for about 36 hours (!), the blog I am using to follow up on the "Better understanding the world of atheists" survey is now back in action.  I have been a bit surprised -in a very positive way- how many people are visiting and interacting with the site.  Several of the "mimi polls" that I have added to the site have generated quite a few responses.  I encourage anyone -particularly those of you who took the time to critique the questions on the main survey (thank you!)- to…


Added by tom arcaro on December 23, 2012 at 7:13pm — No Comments

We need a world with fewer guns, more reason and a balanced set of priorities.

We could use a world with more reason

Here in the US we are yet again reeling from another mass killing, this time in an elementary school.  As I click around on Facebook, Twitter and on various blogs I find a wide array of responses to the tragedy in Connecticut, some more resonant with my feelings than others.

Two responses of which I took…


Added by tom arcaro on December 15, 2012 at 3:27pm — 2 Comments

Mea culpa: critical question ommited from the “Understanding the world of atheists” survey

I should have had questions that would get at this on the main survey:  

How can the atheist movement (to the extent there is one) be more gender inclusive in terms of its public face and its organizational leadership?

Please go the and make your suggestions!

Added by tom arcaro on December 12, 2012 at 7:36am — No Comments

Better understanding the world of atheists: a survey.

As you might have noticed (on the A/N main page or elsewhere), Brother Richard and I have teamed up once again to do a survey of atheists around the world.

Please go to for more information about the survey and to look at some mini "polls" I have added to that site.  I will be updating regularly about the survey in the next couple months, so stay tuned.

If anyone has specific suggestions how we…


Added by tom arcaro on December 11, 2012 at 11:30am — 2 Comments

Op-ed on "Hitch" published in Greensboro News and Record

This was published in the 26 December edition of the Greensboro News and Record:

A tall tree has fallen


By Dr. Tom Arcaro

Professor of Sociology

Elon University



“Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.” …


Added by tom arcaro on December 26, 2011 at 5:00pm — No Comments

New survey with an additional focus on the gender disparity in the atheist community



Prelude to a Major Survey

by Dr. Tom Arcaro & Emily Wappes 


It is clear to many members of the atheist internet blogosphere that there is a noticeable gender disparity among participants in atheist activities (fora, blogs, comments, readership) online.  Two quick examples will illustrate. As of 6 May 2011 only 27% of Atheist Nexus (A|N) membership is…


Added by tom arcaro on August 31, 2011 at 9:22am — 3 Comments

Long time inactive, but coming back

Hey folks.  Nothing major from this end, but I am working with a student on more writing and research on atheism and atheists -and the public perceptions of same, and I will start posting again some of our musings.


Updates?   My course on the sociology of atheism did not get enough students enrolled last summer, so I had to shelve it.  I was the moderator on a panel on the media treatment of atheism held on our campus earlier this month, and the headline panelist was none…


Added by tom arcaro on April 27, 2011 at 9:25pm — 3 Comments

I gave the blessing before the meal

At my school we have a nice event once each semester for students who are (or have recently) turned 21. I was asked to give the blessing by our campus director of the center for religious and spiritual life. He knows I am an atheist, and wanted that element of diversity in this event. I was a bit nervous when the time came close, and almost wimped out. I am glad I didn't, and was congratulated by a couple colleagues afterwards. Here is the text of my "blessing:"…


Added by tom arcaro on April 14, 2010 at 8:00pm — No Comments

Op-Ed piece published in Greensboro News and Record on Sunday, March 28

Atheists' rights in eyes of Christians?…


Added by tom arcaro on March 28, 2010 at 10:49am — 1 Comment

Willing to vote for an atheist President? Yes!

Every year since 1994 whenever I have taught Intro to Sociology I have administered a 15 item opinion survey. I have used this exercise primarily to talk about methodology, but also to explore trends in American popular opinion. In all years previous, three of the questions asked were "All factors being equal, I would feel comfortable voting for a [female, African-American, gay person] for President." This year I added "atheist" to this series of questions. The results of…

Added by tom arcaro on February 11, 2010 at 10:14am — 4 Comments

Statewide poll in North Carolina to include questions about law disqualifying non-believers from public office

"The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God." (The Constitution of North Carolina, Article 6, Section 8)

So says the state constitution of my home state, North Carolina. Perhaps even more chilling is the Preamble of the state constitution which states,

"We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for the preservation of the American Union and… Continue

Added by tom arcaro on January 13, 2010 at 9:00pm — 2 Comments

Photo and short comment on Ray Comfort and the 150th Anniversary Edition of "The Origin of Species"

I scanned through Ray Comfort's Introduction to the special 150th Anniversary Edition of "The Origin of Species" last night and was not very surprised by what I found: simple, dumbed down prose and simpler argumentation. I will quote and comment on one short -but important- statement.

In a section labelled "Darwinism and Atheism" Comfort begins, "It's rare to find an atheist who doesn't embrace Darwinism with open arms. Many believe that with creation adequately… Continue

Added by tom arcaro on December 3, 2009 at 7:34am — 1 Comment

Special 150th Anniversary Edition of The Origin of Species

I have a copy!!!

Oh boy, oh boy....I can't wait to start reading. I'll add to this post as I have the stomach to read the front "Ray" chapter.…


Added by tom arcaro on November 30, 2009 at 1:00pm — 4 Comments

Imagine "No religion"

I am working with a student right now in my Sociology Senior Seminar on a topic very much related to my own research on atheists. Here is the data from one question (so far) answered by 27 students. I am interested -though not surprised- by the high percentage of "No religions". The survey will stay live until next Friday and we'll have more detailed data. To put this in context, Elon University is a 5000+ liberal arts school in North Carolina.…


Added by tom arcaro on October 25, 2009 at 12:59pm — 1 Comment

Sociology of Atheism will be offered in summer of 2010 by (dr) tom arcaro


The fall is quickly upon us, and I have fallen behind on huge list of things I wanted to accomplish. But that is my MO, and I have learned to live with it. But I have made some progress on a couple items...

First, I am thrilled to begin work constructing a syllabus for a course that I will offer to Elon University students -online- this coming summer. I have been teaching an online course on the Global Impact of HIV/AIDS for the past half decade, and so I have good… Continue

Added by tom arcaro on September 28, 2009 at 8:33am — 2 Comments

Why a bigger stigma on atheism in the US as compared to the rest of the Western nations?

That atheists in the US sense a more extreme degree of stigma as compared many other regions of the world is a fact I can support with my data:

As is the case in any research, the "what" question is much more easy to answer than the "why" question. My goal in this post is to think through some possible explanations for the wide disparity between the US and other "Western" regions of the world, particularly Europe.

So far in my… Continue

Added by tom arcaro on September 7, 2009 at 1:46pm — 4 Comments

"The liberation of social believers" op-ed piece


I will begin the process of getting this published very soon, with the target being large newspapers in the southeast where I live. Feedback?

The liberation of social believers

Humans feel a strong need to be accepted by whatever group is around to do the accepting. And this need is so strong that it can, and often does, trump other needs.

In the case of sexuality, for gays and lesbians, passing as heterosexual was a matter of… Continue

Added by tom arcaro on September 7, 2009 at 6:02am — 19 Comments

Presentation went well; thanks to all who gave last minute feedback

Just a short note just now to say the presentation this AM went well. In the immediate aftermath I have had several colleagues say that they were non-believers as well, with one in particular saying that she and her husband quite going to church after their religious parents died, and had only gone to appease them in the first place: classic "social believers."

More later this evening.

Added by tom arcaro on August 27, 2009 at 10:17am — 9 Comments



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