Atheist author Dr. Karen Stollznow, a linguist and former researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, wanted to change that. So she traveled across the U.S. to visit and study minority religious communities.

The result: her recent book God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States, which offers an insightful look at minority religious communities in the U.S.

Below, Dr. Stollznow tells me what she learned while writing God Bless America and why she thinks all people, religious and nonreligious alike, need to learn about minority religions.

Chris Stedman: What do you hope that both atheists and theists will gain from reading your book? 

Karen Stollznow: I want both atheists and theists to gain a better understanding of these fascinating people and their controversial beliefs and practices. I will add that God Bless America isn’t just a book about religion—it’s also about history, philosophy, culture, and society. Hopefully there is something of interest for many people, regardless of their beliefs.