Village Atheists (Paperback)
How America's Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation
Princeton University Press, 9780691183114, 360pp.
Publication Date: December 18, 2018
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A much-maligned minority throughout American history, atheists have been cast as a threat to the nation's moral fabric, barred from holding public office, and branded as irreligious misfits in a nation chosen by God. Yet village atheists--as these godless freethinkers came to be known by the close of the nineteenth century--were also hailed for their gutsy dissent from stultifying pieties and for posing a necessary secularist challenge to the entanglements of church and state. In Village Atheists, Leigh Eric Schmidt explores the complex cultural terrain that unbelievers have long had to navigate in their fight to secure equal rights and liberties in American public life. He rebuilds the history of American secularism from the ground up, giving flesh and blood to these outspoken infidels.
Village Atheists demonstrates that the secularist vision for the United States proved to be anything but triumphant in a country where faith and citizenship were--and still are--closely interwoven.