Department of Educational Psychology


Date of this Version



Journal of Counseling Psychology 67:3 (2020), pp. 275–287.

doi: 10.1037/cou0000399


Copyright © 2019 American Psychological Association. Used by permission.


Despite a general shift toward secularity, very few people of color in the United States identify as atheist. Further, atheists of color are underrepresented in studies of atheists, and the experiences of atheists of color specifically have, to date, not been captured in the extant scholarship. Addressing this gap in the literature, we interviewed 17 self-identified adult atheists of color, predominantly from Christian backgrounds, residing in the United States, using a critical feminist phenomenological approach. Six broad themes emerged from the data: (a) atheist identity development, (b) experiences of discrimination, (c) isolation, (d) violations of cultural expectations, (e) strategic outness, and (f) benefits of atheist identification. Experiences consistent with previous literature and novel and unique experiences specific to atheists of color are reported. Implications for training, practice, and research are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons