Nonbeliever Nation

Nonbeliever Nation

The Rise of Secular Americans

Book - 2012
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Baker & Taylor
An analysis of how the non-believing minority is working to counter the Religious Right's influence in education, public policy, and politics, and argues that America has never been a Christian nation.

McMillan Palgrave

A new group of Americans is challenging the reign of the Religious Right

Today, nearly one in five Americans are nonbelievers - a rapidly growing group at a time when traditional Christian churches are dwindling in numbers - and they are flexing their muscles like never before. Yet we still see almost none of them openly serving in elected office, while Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and many others continue to loudly proclaim the myth of America as a Christian nation.

In Nonbeliever Nation, leading secular advocate David Niose explores what this new force in politics means for the unchallenged dominance of the Religious Right. Hitting on all the hot-button issues that divide the country – from gay marriage to education policy to contentious church-state battles – he shows how this movement is gaining traction, and fighting for its rights. Now, Secular Americans—a group comprised not just of atheists and agnostics, but lapsed Catholics, secular Jews, and millions of others who have walked away from religion—are mobilizing and forming groups all over the country (even atheist clubs in Bible-belt high schools) to challenge the exaltation of religion in American politics and public life.

This is a timely and important look at how growing numbers of nonbelievers, disenchanted at how far America has wandered from its secular roots, are emerging to fight for equality and rational public policy.



Baker
& Taylor

"Today's culture wars are more heated than ever. Education, public policy, and the separation between church and state have become a battlefield, and many are frustrated with the success the Religious Right has had in shaping the national agenda, from putting the brakes on gay marriage in California to stripping textbooks in Texas of references to Thomas Jefferson. But today, a growing nonreligious minority, nearly 20 percent of Americans, are finally organizing and taking explicit political positions. In Nonbeliever Nation, David Niose argues that America was never in fact a Christian nation and shows how the Religious Right successfully took control of the social and political narrative. He takes us across the country to meet the secular groups now forming in opposition to that force--from humanist gatherings to the rise of the New Atheists to the explosion of secular groups on college and even high school campuses. Niose discusses their political goals, including lobbying efforts, legal strategies, and outreach through advertising and education, and what still needs to be done to make the secular voice a gamechanger in American politics"--
An analysis of how the nonbelieving minority is working to counter the Religious Right's influence in education, public policy and politics argues that America has never been a Christian nation, sharing the stories of secular groups throughout the country who are effectively lobbying to maintain a separation of Church and state. 30,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780230338951
023033895X
Branch Call Number: 211.6 N624n
Characteristics: 262 p. ; 25 cm

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Dahomey Apr 11, 2014

Thank you, floy and Jason2009. Good post. I'm putting this book on my to read list. Mee2's post had the opposite effect on me -- made me even more interested in reading the book. A newbie atheist

t
tulsatina
Jul 05, 2013

wow, well with a review like Mee2's and his "quotes" - this nonbeliever left wing radical liberal type-A woman is going to have to read this book !

Mee2 Mar 03, 2013

(Maybe one day Dahomey will do us the great favor of letting us know what he thought of the book instead of what other people thought?) The book’s “Description” doesn’t explain that Niose is an atheist “left-winger.” Contrast that with the "Description" for Dr. Thomas Sowell’s book “Intellectuals and Society”! (And what is “religious Right” and why isn’t there a “religious Left”?) The 1797 treaty with Barbary (see it in “Quotes”) is a tricky document to analyze in just a few words and can lead some to believe in a paradox of the otherwise clearly Christian writings of the Founding Fathers. Yet, there are so many instances when the Founding Fathers referred the creation of this nation as Godly inspired so why the confusion? The treaty (wrongly imputed to Washington) was ratified under Adams, who once wrote: “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were… the general principles of Christianity. … I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God ….” And if truth has bias, it is propaganda. To see what the Founding Fathers thought of truth, read the “Quotes.” The author of this book simply chose to dismiss these and many other documented facts about the Founders. A serious writer would research dispassionately, intended on finding facts. This book is a sham and should be exposed as such.

loblollyrosa Mar 02, 2013

Highly recommended. Great history and insight on the American ideal of the separation of Religion and State and the recent attacks on this concept by the Religious Right.

j
jason2009
Sep 26, 2012

@floy
good post

@Mee2
biblethump elsewhere

f
floy
Aug 06, 2012

This book provides an overview of the historical and current role of religion in our culture and government. Those in the "religious right" claim to want a return to the time in the past when the nation was more overtly religious. The author shows that the U.S. was not as religious as is sometimes portrayed. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were all religious skeptics and our Constitution and Bill of Rights advocated for freedom of choice on religion, not endorsing Christianity in any way. Actually the Treaty of Tripoli (passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in 1797) specifically said "the government of the United States of America is not in any way founded on the Christian religion." The author shows that if we look realistically at the history of religion in America, it would show that religious intolerance and disharmony was the norm. Historically, American Protestants distrusted and discriminated against Catholics, both distrusted and ostracized and sometimes killed Jews, and more recently, many denominations now disrespect Islam. And they don't like atheists and agnostics either.

The U.S. is the only developed nation that clings to religion at levels found in less developed, less scientific, and more superstitious societies. Most European countries, after WWII, became more and more secular. But here in America, the religious right has so prevailed that atheists are vilified and considered unqualified for public office while the Republican critics of secularism live lives of hypocrisy (for example, Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig, etc.). The author writes, "Hypocrisy, not virtue, is the predictable product of a political environment that exalts religiousity." Of the 535 representatives and senators in the US Congress, only one serves openly as an atheist (Pete Stark from the Bay area of California). And yet, the strongest Obama supporters in the 2008 election were those who "never" attend church or are "unaffiliated" with any church. Support for Obama decreased as the frequency of church attendance increased. The author believes that if America has a reputation for being both religious and anti-intellectual, it is reasonable to infer that there is a relationship between the two.

Religious right people think atheism will lead to immorality but statistics show that the homicide rate, teenage births, and STDs are higher in states that are more religious. Religion is not the cause of those social problems but neither is it the cure, obviously. And certainly secularism is not the cause.

The author discusses contemporary secular movements and encourages nonbelievers to "come out of the closet", like gay people have done. Only when religious people realize that they already know many atheists will their unrealistic fears dissipate. Atheists have an obligation to protect America from the undue influence of the Religious Right. Get involved. Be political. Be open with your atheism; I am.
'

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Mee2 Mar 03, 2013

As the GOVERNMENT of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion as it has in itself no character of enmity [hatred] against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] and as the said States [America] have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. (Acts Passed at the First Session of the Fifth Congress of the United States of America, pp. 43-44)

Mee2 Mar 03, 2013

The “non-religious” Thomas Jefferson, who, in closing presidential documents, used to write “In the year of our Lord Christ”. 1) 1801 he recognized "the advantages of every kind which it would promise" referring to the construction of a Catholic church in DC. 2) 1801 he wrote to Governeur Morris "we are already about the 7th of the Christian nations in population." 3) 1802/1803/1804 he signed federal acts setting aside government lands so missionaries might work "propagating the Gospel" among Indians. 4) 1803 he directed the secretary of war to give federal funds to religious school established for Cherokees in Tennessee.

Mee2 Mar 03, 2013

5) 1803 he funded Christian missionaries and provided federal funding to help erect a church in which the Kaskaskia Indians could worship. 6) 1804 he assured a Christian school in the state of Louisiana that it would get "the patronage of the government." 7) 1807 he declared religion "DEEMED IN OTHER COUNTRIES INCOMPATIBLE WITH GOOD GOVERNMENT, AND YET PROVED BY OUR EXPERIENCE TO BE ITS BEST SUPPORT." 8) 1806 "An Act for Establishing the Government of the Armies": "It is earnestly recommended to all officers and soldier diligently to attend Divine service; and all officers who shall behave indecently or irreverently at any place of Divine worship shall, if commissioned officers, be brought before a general court martial, there to be publicly and severely reprimanded by the President."

Mee2 Mar 03, 2013

Benjamin Franklin: “… the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God Governs the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” Alexander Hamilton: “I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man.” Daniel Webster: “If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be ….” Noah Webster: “No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people”

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