Not long ago, the atheist movement was the preserve of a few eccentric gadflies like Madalyn Murray O’Hair, whose endless lawsuits helped earn her the title “the most hated woman in America.” But over the past decade it has matured into something much larger and less cranky. In March of this year, some 20,000 people marched through a cold drizzle at the “Reason Rally” in Washington, billed as a political debut for the movement. A string of best-selling atheist polemics by the “four horsemen” — Hitchens and Dawkins, as well as Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett — has provided new intellectual fuel. Secular-themed organizations and clubs have begun to permeate small-town America and college campuses, helping to foot the bill for bus and billboard ad campaigns with messages like “Are You Good Without God? Millions Are.”
The reasons for this secular revival are varied, but it seems clear that the Internet has helped, and many younger atheists cite the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a watershed moment of disgust with religious zealotry in any form. It is hard to say how many people are involved; avowed atheists are still a tiny sliver of the population. But people with no religious affiliation are the country’s fastest-growing religious category. When asked about religious affiliation in a Pew poll published this summer, nearly 20 percent of Americans chose “none,” the highest number the center has recorded. Many of those people would not call themselves atheists; “agnostic,” which technically refers to people who believe that the existence of a higher being can’t be known by the human mind, remains the safer option. The godless are now younger and more diverse than in the past, with blacks and Hispanics — once vanishingly rare — starting to appear in the ranks of national groups like the United Coalition of Reason and the Secular Student Alliance.
From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader
Posted 24 August 2012 - 06:32 AM
Posted 24 August 2012 - 07:20 AM
Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.
Posted 24 August 2012 - 06:38 PM
It says even more about US culture that coming out as an atheist can result in loss of employment, social isolation and threatened - or actual - acts of violence against the new unbeliever.
It says something about US culture that this is even news.
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