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Secularist Rituals in the US: Solidarity and Legitimization

Part of the Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies book series (BOREFRRERE,volume 2)

Abstract

In a responding to the new atheism, some secularist groups and leaders have been advocating a more positive atheism that seeks to create non-theist alternatives to traditional religion. These alternatives include rites-of-passage usually associated with religious services, such as funerals, These rituals can also include secularist public events ridiculing and protesting religion in order to foster a positive atheist group identity. We examine specific secular rituals organized by secular humanist groups, arguing that such rituals serve both a function of creating solidarity among participants as well as legitimizing secularism to the wider society. We specifically look at the celebration of Darwin Day and how it plays a legitimizing function among secularist groups. At the same time, the use of rituals has divided American secularists.

Keywords

  • Intelligent Design
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
  • Ethical Culture
  • Wedding Ceremony
  • Identity Commitment

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This chapter is based on a longer and different version of a chapter that appears in our book Atheist Awakening: Secular Activism and Community in America (Oxford University Press, 2014)

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-09602-5_6
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Notes

  1. 1.

    We would like to thank Ayako Sairenji for her observation of the Darwin Day in New Jersey.

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Correspondence to Richard Cimino .

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Cimino, R., Smith, C. (2015). Secularist Rituals in the US: Solidarity and Legitimization. In: G. Beaman, L., Tomlins, S. (eds) Atheist Identities - Spaces and Social Contexts. Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies, vol 2. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-09602-5_6

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