A new study conducted at the University of Minnesota states
that atheists are the most distrusted minority group, rating lower in the survey of over 2,000 homes than Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other commonly discriminated minority groups. Atheists are also the most likely group that parents forbid their children to marry the study says.
Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study's lead researcher states, "Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years."
It seems that most people now believe that freedom of religion does not include freedom from religion. After years of social tolerance coming in to the fold of the majority, the usual targets for discrimination are no longer acceptable to Americans. The majority it seems must always target a group of people to discriminate against, so they decide what core values it takes to become an American, and they decide that belief in God is one of those core values.
At any given point in American history there has been a minority group who was discriminated against with "permission" from the majority. This sort of 'Us-verse-them' mentality has led to horrible acts agianst all minorities, but as time progressed it focused more on single groups such as blacks, Jews, Mexicans, Muslims, and gay and lesbians. Now it atheistsstsAtheistssts are not a racial group, and they are enough of the outsider that the majority doesn't care if they are discriminated against.
The core values of the average American person say that an atheist is a criminal, a vagrant with no sense of morality. These are just stereotypes, the non-belief in a being does not evoke any specific way of living.