Who exactly are ye of little faith?

Feb 9, 2015

By Bob Ripley

Secularists have a new swagger. It may come from the recent rush of insights into reality advanced by science, but I suspect it comes from the sheer rise in their numbers. A fifth of American adults and, in Canada, a quarter of adults (and a third of young adults) have no religious affiliation.

So who are all these people? If we think of a secularist as someone not subject to the supernatural — rather than religious folks who promote a separation of church and state — the label covers atheists, agnostics, free thinkers, humanists and other assorted non-believers.

For the most part, the label is no longer a fast track to execution, but secularists still face hostility. Teens are tossed out of religious homes. Friends and co-workers flee at the first hint of religious non-conformity.

But now we’re seeing some pushback. The new coalition called Openly Secular: Opening Minds, Changing Hearts (openlysecular.org) provides videos from average folks about the troubles they’ve faced as non-­believers. It’s one thing to be Jodi Foster, Morgan Freeman, Daniel Radcliffe, Keira Knightley or Julianne Moore and be a non-believer. It’s harder for those who are teachers, nurses, business owners and such.

While campaigns such as Openly Secular may embolden non-believers to be open about their skepticism, they also inform believers who are puzzled or even belligerent toward those who do not share their beliefs.

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