How Non-Theism Found a Voice in the Mainstream

Blitzer-Vitsmun-AtheistI’ll just put this out there: I’m fascinated by the recent changes in the numbers for the religious and unaffiliated, especially non-theism. As one who teaches in religious studies, and most-often on the history of religion, it feels like I’m living at a key point of change for religion and non-theism.

What factors are contributing to this change? There are many that could be discussed (scandals, disenfranchisement, etc.), but in my newest post, “How non-theists are creating their own space in the world,” at ToledoFAVS (a local hub of the Religion News Service), I look at the PR strategies that are working, especially for the non-theists.

Take a look at the piece and see why I say that groups like evangelicals are losing at their own game.

Standing outside the wreckage that is Moore, Oklahoma, Rebecca Vitsmun holds up her enthusiastic little boy for the cameras. She made a quick decision to flee her home before the now infamous tornado pulverized it. A friendly conversation between she and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer becomes awkward when he asks her, “You gotta thank the Lord, right?”

She hesitates to say anything.

He repeats the question, but this time with a hint of curiosity. “Do you thank the Lord for that split second decision?”

“I’m actually an atheist,” she tells him with a smile. They laugh and then she assures him, “I don’t blame anybody for thanking the Lord.”

In this brief moment, I see a woman who recognizes that her atheism will be unexpected, but nevertheless offers it up in a frank, yet non-judgmental way. Blitzer discovers — if statistics are correct that 1 in 5 Americans do not affiliate with any religion — that an aftermath this devastating is likely to have at least one person who doesn’t thank the Lord…. Read the full article at

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