It would be interesting to look at the ethnic origin of White atheists. I'm betting they are of Northwestern European ancestry, with perhaps the Irish being an exception.The following table shows the percentages, by ethnicity, of atheists or agnostics among GSS respondents from 2000 onward among groups with at least 50 respondents (and most samples are far larger than that):
|4. Other Asian||12.1|
|11. Puerto Rican||9.1|
|18. Native American||5.8|
|19. Non-Spanish West Indies||5.7|
|20. Spanish (Iberian)||5.6|
|21. Indian (dot)||4.4|
Perspicacious prediction regarding the Irish.
A few remarks: "Other Asian" does not include those of Japanese descent, a group for which the sample size was insufficient to be broken out with any reliability. In the American context, "Russian" also means heavily Jewish. The fathers of the Scottish Enlightenment need not spin in their graves. Echoes of Thomas Sowell's black rednecks. Should we prepare for a fifth NAM-led great awakening?
Fifteen of the 26 included ethnicities have contemporary data available from the WVS*. The percentages of respondents queried between 2005-2008 who said that God is "not at all important" in their lives:
|7. Great Britain||19.7|
|13. Trinidad and Tobago||1.0|
* Trinidad and Tobago serves as a proxy for non-Spanish West Indies ancestry and Ghana as a proxy for African ancestry.
The correlation between atheism and agnosticism among those in the US and their co-ethnics in their mother countries is an impressive 0.66 (p = .008). Excluding Russia, which is a bit of an aberration due to the heavy Jewish skew in the US, the relationship strengthens a bit more to 0.68 (p = .007). To some extent, we are indeed our father(land)'s children.
Sharp guys like Jayman and Greg Cochran have argued that ethnic self-identification among Americans should be taken with a grain of salt. Disputing a Cochran assertion instinctively feels like an act of folly, but the residual relation shown above suggests that self-reported ethnicity has utility. Census findings don't give the appearance of randomness. Of course there has been a lot of intermixing, but it seems plausible that in most cases the ethnicity that people self-identify as belonging to is the ethnicity they are most heavily descended from.
If self-described ethnicity isn't accurately derived from biology, then it is presumably a product of perceived cultural affinities. Yet among most whites in the US today, any awareness--let alone active sense--of ancestral heritage is virtually non-existent. Very few average joes think of themselves as fifth-generation German or tenth-generation English. Americans of Irish descent are a partial exception, what with St. Patty's Day and the t-shirts that accompany it, but in mid-March there are a lot of people who fancy themselves Irish for a day even though they lack any historical connection to the emerald isle. They answer "Italian" because at some point they were told by one parent that his parents' parents came over from there and from the other that her parents' parents' parents did, too.
WVS variables used (fifth wave): V192(1)
GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2012), ETHNIC, GOD(1-2)