A program of the Center for Inquiry
For Immediate Release: March 8, 2016
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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The rapid growth of the religiously unaffiliated population—the so-called “rise of the ‘Nones’”—has reshaped the American religious landscape, with Nones making up almost a quarter of the population. But so far, those gains have not translated into a cohesive movement. The latest issue of the secular humanist magazine Free Inquiry gathers leading experts in the social science of secularism to answer the question: How do the Nones take advantage of their potential strength?
Barry Kosmin of the American Religious Identification Survey (which first coined the term Nones) diagnoses American secularism as “leaderless” because only a tiny percentage of the nonreligious affiliate themselves with secular organizations. He recommends that seculars follow the example of the religious Right and channel their efforts into grassroots political action.
Political scientist Juhem Navarro-Rivera emphasizes targeting overlooked demographic groups, arguing that secular organizations must take to heart the overlapping political and social goals of identities outside white males. Similarly, Jesse Max Smith sees a hunger from the religiously unaffiliated to affiliate with something that is affirming and affirmative, a step beyond mere nonbelief. Christel J. Manning highlights secular parents’ tendency to let their children choose their religious worldviews for themselves, which might dampen growth of the nonreligious population.
Ryan T. Cragun envisions two paths. On one, nonbelievers focus on what they oppose and turn toward secular organizations to combat the enemy of the moment. But he encourages the path of the secularization of society, which leads to a gradual indifference toward religion and magical thinking.
Cautioning unbelievers to “not get too giddy,” Phil Zuckerman, a pioneer of secular studies, nonetheless sees secular humanism as a rising tide that, if sufficiently fostered, can “prod humanity in the right direction” in terms of reason, tolerance, human rights, and evidence-based decision making.
Also in this issue:
Robyn Blumner , the new CEO of the Center for Inquiry (copublisher of Free Inquiry), explains how the Openly Secular campaign is combatting discrimination against nonbelievers; former CEO Ron Lindsay reveals the flimsy foundations of the late Justice Scalia’s “originalism”; Ophelia Benson dryly exposes the hypocrisies of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, comparing the brutality of the kingdom to ISIS; and Free Inquiry Editor Tom Flynn critiques the book The Evolution of Atheism by Stephen LeDrew as “marred by significant historical, analytic, and conceptual errors.”
Look for the April-May 2016 issue of Free Inquiry on newsstands, or visit www.secularhumanism.org/fi.