Professor Elizabeth Drescher
11 a.m., May 16, 2021
At this Sunday Forum, Professor Elizabeth Drescher will discuss “Atheism in America”.
Nonreligion—whether in the form of religious indifference, extra-institutional spiritual exploration and innovation, or antireligious antagonism—has a long and varied history in the United States. At times in American history, being someone who refused religious labeling and participation was something respected and tolerated as a marker of the Constitutional values separating “church and state” in a uniquely democratic nation. At other times, rejection of religion in general, and Christianity in particular, was seen not only as immoral, but as profoundly and even dangerously un-American. In the 21st century, the religious landscape in the United States is far more diverse and complex than ever, with some 70% of the population claiming an institutional religious identity or affiliation in one of dozens of major and hundreds of smaller religions. However, an increasing proportion of Americans— especially young adults—do not have traditional religious identifications or affiliations, many self-identifying as atheists, agnostics, humanists or secularists.
For the past 5 years, Professor Elizabeth Drescher has been teaching a class on Atheism in America at Santa Clara University. She will discuss how the nonreligious have participated in the shaping of American culture and continue to do so today.
Elizabeth Drescher (Graduate Theological Union, 2008) is Adjunct Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University, where she also directs the Living Religion Collaborative. Her research, writing, and teaching focuses on the lived experience of religion, spirituality, and nonreligion among ordinary people in the contexts of everyday life. Her publications include Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones (Oxford University Press, 2016), chapters on religion and media in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media (2015), and numerous articles on religion in everyday life in publications including the Atlantic, Washington Post, SF Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, America, and Religion Dispatches.
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