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Village Atheists -- How America's Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation

Schmidt, Leigh Eric

31 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0691168644 / ISBN 13: 9780691168647
Published by Princeton University Press, 2016
Condition: As New Hardcover
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"Village Atheists" 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." (From the DJ). This is an UNREAD copy in AS NEW condition, first edition, first printing with number line starting with "1." The author is Professor of politics and religion at Washington University, St. Louis. Bookseller Inventory # 161011

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Village Atheists -- How America's ...

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Publication Date: 2016

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

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 majoritarian entanglements of church and state. Village Atheists 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.

Leigh Eric Schmidt rebuilds the history of American secularism from the ground up, giving flesh and blood to these outspoken infidels, including itinerant lecturer Samuel Porter Putnam; rough-edged cartoonist Watson Heston; convicted blasphemer Charles B. Reynolds; and atheist sex reformer Elmina D. Slenker. He describes their everyday confrontations with devout neighbors and evangelical ministers, their strained efforts at civility alongside their urge to ridicule and offend their Christian compatriots. Schmidt examines the multilayered world of social exclusion, legal jeopardy, yet also civic acceptance in which American atheists and secularists lived. He shows how it was only in the middle decades of the twentieth century that nonbelievers attained a measure of legal vindication, yet even then they often found themselves marginalized on the edges of a God-trusting, Bible-believing nation.

Village Atheists reveals how the secularist vision for the United States proved to be anything but triumphant and age-defining for a country where faith and citizenship were―and still are―routinely interwoven.

From the Back Cover:

"This is a fresh, lively, discerning account of popular freethought. Schmidt shows how resilient and resourceful have been the minority of Americans who publicly refuse belief in God. Amid vehement efforts by the religious majority to suppress them, these hated ‘village atheists' managed to expand gradually the borders of acceptable spiritual orientations. Schmidt's fascinating subjects are popular writers and cartoonists, not the scientists and philosophers that dominate our standard secularization narrative."--David A. Hollinger, University of California, Berkeley

"Tracing a long history of religious freethought that has received little attention, Schmidt tells a gripping story not only of confrontation between Christians and 'infidels' but also one of negotiation, second thoughts, resistance to hypocrisy, principled integrity, and courage in the face of intolerance. Village Atheists is the work of a prize-winning historian at the top of his game."--Grant Wacker, author of America's Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation

"This is a book that finally argues that atheists belong at the center of the study of American religion, showing how religious infidelity is always and ever the other side of religious fidelity. Both are practiced and articulated with equal contradiction, anguish, and social struggle. Schmidt has redeemed the village atheist as a category of serious significance."--Kathryn Lofton, author of Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon

"Schmidt has always written with verve and precision, and he draws the four freethinkers profiled here as colorful and cantankerous foot soldiers in the culture wars of past generations. He is a superb writer who can engage readers who might not normally be drawn to books in religious history."--E. Brooks Holifield, author of God's Ambassadors: A History of the Christian Clergy in America

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