book cover

Organized Secularism in the United States: New Directions in Research

book cover


There has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of the US population that is not religious. However, there is, to date, very little research on the social movement that is organizing to serve the needs of and advocate for the nonreligious in the US.

This is a book about the rise and structure of organized secularism in the United States. By organized secularism we mean the efforts of nonreligious individuals to build institutions, networks, and ultimately a movement that serves their interests in a predominantly religious society. Researchers from various fields address questions such as: What secularist organizations exist? Who are the members of these organizations? What kinds of organizations do they create? What functions do these organizations provide for their members? How do the secularist organizations of today compare to those of the past? And what is their likely impact on the future of secularism?

For anyone trying to understand the rise of the nonreligious in the US, this book will provide valuable insights into organized efforts to normalize their worldview and advocate for their equal treatment in society.

Table of Contents:

v-vi Phil Zuckerman Preface
1-11 Ryan Cragun & Christel Manning Introduction
13-29 Charles Louis Richter “I Know It When I See It:” Humanism, Secularism, and Religious Taxonomy
31-56 Michael Rectenwald Mid-Nineteenth-Century Secularism as Modern Secularity
57-85 Lori L. Fazzino and Ryan T. Cragun “Splitters!”: Lessons from Monty Python for Secular Organizations in the US
87-112 John R. Shook Recognizing and Categorizing the Secular: Polysecularity and Agendas of Polysecularism
113-134 Amanda Schutz Organizational Variation in the American Nonreligious Community
135-149 Aislinn Addington Building Bridges in the Shadows of Steeples: Atheist Community and Identity Online
151-170 Jesse M. Smith Communal Secularity: Congregational Work at the Sunday Assembly
171-190 Jacqui Frost Rejecting Rejection Identities: Negotiating Positive Non-religiosity at the Sunday Assembly
191-219 Joseph Langston, Joseph Hammer, Ryan Cragun & Mary Ellen Sikes Inside The Minds and Movement of America’s Nonbelievers: Organizational Functions, (Non)Participation, and Attitudes Toward Religion
221-251 Björn Mastiaux A Typology of Organized Atheists and Secularists in Germany and the United States
253-278 Dusty Hoesly Your Wedding, Your Way: Personalized, Nonreligious Weddings through the Universal Life Church
279-300 Nicholas J. MacMurray & Lori L. Fazzino Doing Death Without Deity: Constructing Nonreligious Tools at the End of Life
301-317 Barry Kosmin Old Questions and New Issues for Organized Secularism in the United States


Cragun, Ryan T., Christel J. Manning, and Lori L. Fazzino, eds. 2017. Organized Secularism in the United States: New Directions in Research. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH.

Where to Purchase:

The book is OpenAccess and available for digital download here.

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