David Niose has written a wonderful new book, Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans. The book summarizes in one place the growth of secularism, the attacks on non-religious and the future of the movement. I think that the need to promote the secular movement is best summarized in the introduction of the book, where Niose argues that it was the growth of the Religious Right that changed the political and social landscape for the worse. Specifically he writes on page 5:
The Religious Right is a uniquely American phenomenon, and its rise correlates with undesirable social phenomena that are also uniquely American, from high rates of violent crime and teen pregnancy to low rates of scientific literacy. Defiant anti-intellectualism has become mainstream, resulting in disastrous public policy and the decay of some of America’s most cherished values— rational discourse, pragmatism, and pluralism, to name just a few. When a significant segment of the politically engaged population stands firmly opposed to science, reason, and critical thinking, intelligent debate and policy making become impossible.
Wow. Well-said. Rational discourse, pragmatism and pluralism. Wouldn’t it be great if the political process could foster those values in political discussions.