Journal Article

Secular Humanism and Atheism beyond Progressive Secularism*

Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 68, issue 4, pages 407-424
Published in print January 2007 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2007 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Secular Humanism and Atheism beyond Progressive Secularism*

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The organized atheist and secular humanist movements have long operated under the premise of secularism progressing in American society. In the last two decades, however, progressive secularism has come under increasing criticism. This article examines how atheists and secular humanists—collectively, “freethinkers”—have responded to the failure of secularism to become a dominant force in the United States and how they have rethought their role and strategy from that of acting as the secular vanguard to assuming a subcultural identity and engaging in defensive competition in order to find a place in American society. They have done so by adopting three strategies: (1) creating a niche for secular humanism among the unchurched and “secular seekers”; (2) mimicking and adapting various aspects of evangelicalism, even as they target this movement as their main antagonist; and (3) making use of minority discourse and identity politics.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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