Review & Discuss "Atheist Awakening: Secular Activism and Community in America"

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The Birmingham Atheist Center · Birmingham, MI

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Join us for an educational book review and discussion of "Atheist Awakening: Secular Activism and Community in America" by Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith. In this exploration of organized secularism in America, the authors show how one segment of the "Nones" have created a new, cohesive atheist identity through activism and the creation of communities.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with self-identified atheist, secularist, and humanist leaders and activists, as well as extensive observations and analysis of secular gatherings and media, Cimino and Smith illustrate how atheists organize and align themselves toward common goals, and how web-based media-has proven invaluable in connecting atheists to one another and in creating a powerful virtual community.

In fairness to everyone attending who expects to have a meaningful discussion and a productive learning experience, you must complete the reading of this entire book in order to attend this meeting.


"Atheist Awakening: Secular Activism and Community in America"
by Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith
173 pages

publisher: Oxford University Press, December 2014



According to Cimino and Smith, the new upsurge of atheists is a reaction to the revival of religious fervor in American politics since 1980. Feeling overlooked and underrepresented in the public sphere, atheists have employed a wide variety of strategies-some evangelical, some based on identity politics-to defend and assert themselves against their ideological opponents. These strategies include building and maintaining communities, despite the absence of the kinds of shared rituals, texts, and laws that help to sustain organized religions.


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Book Reviews

"Atheist Awakening provides a thorough analysis for stimulating growth in secular organizations and mobilizing online and offline grassroots activism in the 21st century. I applaud Cimino and Smith for articulating what others have not--that understanding contemporary secularism cannot be done independent of America's unique religious culture . . . the book is an excellent read and makes a significant contribution to several bodies of sociological literature, including nonreligious studies, religion, deviance, culture, and social movements."

--Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

"This book fills an important gap in the literature by examining atheism/secularism as a social movement. Although the focus is on the last three decades, the authors provide ample historical context so often missing from sociological analysis. Two themes that recut throughout the book are the interdependence between the atheist and evangelical Christian movements in America and the tension within atheist movement between those who seek to accommodate and those who seek to confront. By exploring how these themes manifest themselves in various stages of the movement, the authors illuminate both continuity and change from the past...This is careful scholarship..."

--Journal of Church and State


About the Authors

Richard Cimino is founding editor of Religion Watch, a monthly publication reporting on trends and research in contemporary religion. He currently teaches sociology at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

Christopher Smith is an independent researcher. His areas of interest include secularism and social theory. He holds an M.A. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research.