Atheists in America

Edited by Melanie E. Brewster

Columbia University Press

Atheists in America

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Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9780231163590

272 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $24.00£20.00

Pub Date: June 2014

ISBN: 9780231163583

272 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $34.00£29.00

Pub Date: June 2014

ISBN: 9780231537001

272 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $23.99£20.00

Atheists in America

Edited by Melanie E. Brewster

Columbia University Press

This collection features more than two dozen narratives by atheists from different backgrounds across the United States. Ranging in age, race, sexual orientation, and religious upbringing, these individuals address deconversion, community building, parenting, and romantic relationships, providing a nuanced look at living without a god in a predominantly Christian nation.

These narratives illuminate the complexities and consequences for nonbelievers in the United States. Stepping away from religious belief can have serious social and existential ramifications, forcing atheists to discover new ways to live meaningfully without a religious community. Yet shedding the constraints of a formal belief system can also be a freeing experience. Ultimately, this volume shows that claiming an atheist identity is anything but an act isolated from the other dimensions of the self. Upending common social, political, and psychological assumptions about atheists, this collection helps carve out a more accepted space for this minority within American society.

Atheists in America is a unique contribution to the literature on atheism touching on topics rarely discussed or researched. I do not know of any other book on the market that seeks to bring together individual narratives of deconversion and the challenges faced afterward.

Amarnath Amarasingam, York University

Atheists in America—a vital new contribution to the growing literature on nonbelievers—reveals in their own words how a wide diversity of people learned to live lives of integrity and meaning without God. The book also grants readers ready to hear it the message that not only is it okay not to believe, being an atheist can be both enlightening and liberating.

Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic

I used to preach that atheists are fools who lead sad, empty, meaningless, and immoral lives. Then I actually met some atheists. After reading the moving and honest stories in Atheists in America, you will agree with me that nonbelievers lead reasonable, moral, and purposeful lives.

Dan Barker, copresident, Freedom from Religion Foundation

Intriguing... This volume should appeal to academics and some spiritual seekers.

Library Journal
Acknowledgments
Introduction. The Other Closet: An Introduction to Atheism and Coming Out Processes
Part 1. Leaving Faith: Arriving at Atheist Identity from Religious Backgrounds
1. How I Got to None of the Above, by Alvin Burstein
2. Religion and the F-Word (Feminism), by Lynnette
3. Clap Our Hands Like Trees, by Chris Matallana
4. Ex-Mormon, by Cora Judd
Part 2. Cultural Contexts in Coming Out as Atheist
5. An Unexamined Life, by Naima Cabelle
6. User Error: Coming Out as Atheist in Utah, by James Mouritsen
7. The Names We Call Home, by Shawn Mirza
8. A Life of Class Consciousness, by David Hoelscher
Part 3. Two Closets? Identifying as Both LGBTQ and Atheist
9. A Tale of Two Closets, by Stephen S. Mills
10. The Permanent Prodigal Daughter, by Sherilyn Connelly
11. Far from Home, by David Philip Norris
Part 4. Ain't No Mountain High Enough: Navigating Romantic Relationships as an Atheist
12. An Atheist's Simple Revelation About Love: It's Complicated, by Ethan Sahker
13. Swept Under the Rug, by Kristen Rurouni
14. On Love and Credulity, by Matt Hart
Part 5. Family Life and Atheist Parenting
15. Dinner with Grandma, by Ronnelle Adams
16. Parenting Authentically in an Interfaith Marriage, by Kevin J. Zimmerman
17. Having a Baby Made Me an Atheist, by Amy Watkins
18. Born Secular, by Adrienne Filardo Fagan
Part 6. The Search for Connection: Coming Out to Friends and Questing for Community
19. Slow Growth, by Justus Humphrey
20. An Atheist in the Bible Belt, by Brittany Friedel
21. Coming Out and Finding Home, by Pam Zerba
Part 7. Atheism at Work: Tales of Coming Out to Coworkers and Colleagues
22. Is This the Way to Amarillo?, by Samuel W. Needleman
23. Cracking Open the Closet Door, by Camilo Ortiz
24. My Favorite Atheist, by John Douma
Part 8. Atheism and Aging: The Challenges of Entering Older Adulthood as a Nonbeliever
25. The Road Less Traveled, by Ursula Raabe
26. A Contrarian Life Story, by Elizabeth Malm Clemens
27. Dark Matter and Missing Socks, by Margaret M. Bennett
Concluding Thoughts: The Open Door
Notes
Bibliography

Read "The Other Closet: An Introduction to Atheism and Coming Out Processes," the introduction to Atheists in America:

Web Features:

About the Author

Melanie Elyse Brewster is a professor of psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research focuses on marginalized groups and examines how experiences of discrimination and stigma may shape the mental health of minority group members, such as LGBTQ individuals, atheists, and people of color. She regularly tweets about identity politics at @melysebrewster.