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Atheism in the American Animal Rights Movement: An Invisible Majority

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Previous research has alluded to the predominance of atheism in participant pools of the Nonhuman Animal rights movement (Galvin and Herzog 1992; Guither 1998), as well as the correlation between atheism and support for anti-speciesism (Gabriel et al. 2012; The Humane League 2014), but no study to date has independently examined this demographic. This article presents a profile of 210 atheists and agnostics, derived from a larger survey of 287 American vegans conducted in early 2017. Results demonstrate that atheists constitute one of the movement's largest demographics, and that atheist and agnostic vegans are more likely to adopt veganism out of concern for other animals. While these vegans did not register a higher level of social movement participation than religious vegans, they were more intersectionally oriented and more likely to politically identify with the far left. Given the Nonhuman Animal rights movement's overall failure to target atheists, these findings suggest a strategic oversight in overlooking the movement's potentially most receptive demographic.
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Keywords: animal rights; atheism; secularism; social movements; veganism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2019

This article was made available online on June 14, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Atheism in the American Animal Rights Movement: An Invisible Majority".

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 2.158. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.047.
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