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Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  535 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
Today, one in five Americans are nonbelievers—a rapidly growing group at a time when traditional Christian churches are dwindling in numbers. Still we see almost none of them openly serving in elected office, while Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and many others continue to loudly proclaim the falsehood of America as a Christian nation. In Nonbeliever Nation, leading secular a ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published December 17th 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published July 17th 2012)
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(showing 1-30)
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Cat Burns
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In just reading the introduction, I can not stress how important of a book this is to read. I am so ashamed of myself by not taking a stand years ago. By allowing others to fight this battle and like many turned a blind eye to what was happening in this Country!

We CAN NOT stay silent! WE can not sit sit around and expect someone else pick up the pieces for something many like me helped cause by ignoring that which makes you uncomfortable and saying "what can I do? I'm just one person!"

I am not
I ended up skimming the last half because about 90% of the information in this book was familiar to me - a consequence of having paid attention to the secular/atheist scene for the last 5 years. However my boredom doesn't imply that this is a boring book. Not at all - it's written very well! I think it's an excellent starter book for its target audience - the secular person who perhaps has at last decided "Yes, I'm secular - or atheist," (not necessarily the same thing!) and wants an overview of ...more
Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans by David Niose

“Nonbeliever Nation" is a plea for Secular Americans to drive America to a better future by embracing its Enlightenment principles and breaking away from the restrictive chains of the Religious Right. This book is about the resistance to the Religious Right and an emerging and often overlooked segment of Secular Americans who reject religiosity as a prerequisite to patriotism and sound public policy. It’s about the rise and hope of
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure I would like this book when I first picked it up. It's about the politics of religion in America, and I don't consider myself politically minded enough to actually sit down and read a book on the subject. Nevertheless, I found this book fascinating in the ways that it opened my eyes to the way that Secular Americans are mistreated and even marginalized in the religiously political environment of America today. It wasn't always so. Politicians used to understand the importance of se ...more
Sara Sharick
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great primer on the disaster that has been the Religious Right in the US, the consolidation and rise of Secular Americans over the past 10-15 years, and how a rational, secular approach to policy making can benefit everyone, regardless of religious proclivities. Secular Americans have to stop accepting marginalization by even the religious left.
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
"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." This quote, taken from the beginning of the book, is what originally drew me in, what made me want to read more. As the last year has gone by, I have become increasingly frustrated with much of the political rhetoric I hear on television, read in the newspapers, even hear in conversations with friends and famil ...more
Jeff Stockett
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion through the Goodreads First Reads program.

Every once in a while I like to read a book I know I'll disagree with. I feel like the exposure to other world views opens my mind to new ideas. I'm glad I read this book for that reason. But that's the only reason.

It's sad to me that secular Americans feel persecuted and marginalized. That is certainly not something that I want. However, this book promotes an us vs them mentality that defin
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea that the religious right and their power in politics was such a recent phenomenon! 150 years ago, we had open skeptics and non-Christians running for president and even elected president – religious litmus tests didn't exist. And the motto in God we trust didn't appear on our coins until the 1950s, same with under God in the Pledge of Allegiance. It was the McCarthy era, with the scare over communism, when Christianity came to the forefront, and it was not until the moral majority ...more
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished, relativist
A good history and overview of what it means to support secular government in the United States. The book does not contain arguments for or against God's existence. Instead, it promotes "a renewed appreciation of reason, critical thinking, and the forward-looking values promoted by Secular Americans. This is not to suggest that religion itself must be made irrelevant, but only that effective opposition is needed to the politically mobilized fundamentalist element." The word "secular" conveys the ...more
Brian Dichter
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compared with the many recent "new-atheist" books and articles penned by authors such as Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens, this work is the most accessible and the most reasonable. Niose presents an extremely well-cited history of the marginalization of Secular Americans, the climb to power by the Religious Right and the issues at the center of the culture war over America's supposedly religious identity. Niose clarifies the claims and arguments, presenting beautiful and sound refutations along with ...more
David Anderson
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Niose presents an extremely entertaining, well-written and well-researched history of the marginalization of Secular Americans, the climb to power by the Religious Right and the issues at the center of the culture war over America's supposedly religious identity. I liked his strategic comparison of the Secular movement with the LGBT movement. Not that secular Americans have suffered an oppression any near as ugly as that visited LGBT people; neither he nor I would dream of asserting that. But we ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been stalking the First Coast Freethought Society for the past few months trying to decide if I want to get involved or not. My strategy is to read some of the books on their book discussion group list and see if that helps me make a decision. I wonder how many other people are doing this because this book, Nonbeliever Nation, has done a lot to encourage me to seek out other nonbelievers and given me excellent reasons to do so. In recent years, I have searched for an answer to the questions ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As interested as I was in reading this book, it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. For any longtime atheist, it's more of a refresher course on the secular movement in America. There was enough new and revealing historical content that I don't count the read as a waste of time, but a lot of it was almost remedial for anyone who's spent any time responding intelligently to proselytizers. The best this book offered was the history of the secular organizations and their current movements.

Kacee Moreton
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful read and very informative. Interesting chronicle of the rise of the religious right (in the form of the "Moral Majority) in the late 70's, it's revisionist history, and it's powerful political influence today. Despite years of being discriminated against, labeled as unpatriotic, immoral, etc., and treated as second class citizens secular Americans have begun to organize and fight back. It's an uphill battle but progress is being made. I look forward to reading more from a true voice of ...more
Kate Woods Walker
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid look back at the rational Enlightenment foundation of our country and an optimistic look forward to a nation that grows farther and farther away from Religious Right crazies, Nonbeliever Nation by David Niose is a bit dry in places but a reassuring read nonetheless. Chapter 10, "A Secular Future," is a fine, brief manifesto for those who believe fervently in the separation of church and state.
Joanna T
I will want to own this book and give it more attention. I did enjoy the historical aspects of the secular movement presented here in the US. And the ways progress is being made to fight against demonizing atheists by recognizing that 'non-affiliated' citizens living here have just as much right to celebrate their history as those who are religious. The trend is in our favor, fellow secularists.
Fredrick Danysh
The author champions a nation where religion is basically discouraged and cheers the growth of people who practice no religion. He further champions alternative sexual lifestyles. He publishes score card of an secular organization to those Congressmen who are most active against religion. A must read for those of faith to truly understand those who want to limit their freedom to practice their religious beliefs. This was a free advance read copy.
i think i would have liked this more if i hadn't already known most of what he had to say. i think this book is best for people who are just starting to investigate secularism.
Tim Rymel
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an interesting history of how we got to the place of where we are in this country with religion and politics. It is disturbing that we've become more fundamentalist religious in the last 40 years. Most nations move forward, ours has gone eerily backwards. For the audiobook, which I listened to, the music between chapters was cheesy and distracting. Made it feel like a low end production. That said, I would still recommend the book. Lots of good information.
Jim Blessing
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
This was a very good read, especially the first half of the book.
David Chivers
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this new book, my friend David Niose outlines the history of secular thought in America, the relatively recent rise of the Religious Right, and a resulting re-emergence of secular forces that is still in its early stages. He then urges secular people (whom he broadly defines) to step forward and reclaim their longstanding right to be recognized and allowed to participate in the political life of the United States.
His first several chapters are a quick survey and short history of secularism in
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an eye opening and interesting book! While the title might have you believe that this book is just going to go after religion, that isn't really true. It states the history that religion has played in our country and how it has changed as the religious right has increased their power and stance in politics over the last 3 decades. Our politicians now have no chance of being elected if they dare to not claim a religion or challenge relgious beliefs and agendas. Just a little over a hundred y ...more
Oct 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first nonfiction book about secularity that I read. I borrowed a copy of this book from one of the teachers at my school.

I wasn't aware that the book was pretty much entirely going to be about politics, and I guess that was the part of this that turned me off the most. Niose did present information on various secular organizations that exist within America today, and that was good. But even though the author's narrative voice is very calm and reasonable, all of the "Religious Right
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author captures the secular humanist changes within the society that have been happening to America with a particular emphasis of the recent past up to the beginning of 2012.

It's easy to say the author was slightly ahead of his time and foresaw the rapid changes that have happened since the publication of the book, and the changes have been even more dramatic after the book's publication. It's as if the author was writing a book about the financial crisis but published it in October 2008. He
Mostly there's nothing new here for people who have followed church/state issues and were raised in a secular home like I was. A good concise recent history of the Religious Right and the even more recent Secular movement that in some ways was like traveling through events I lived through, though in some ways it made me a bit bitter.

I must point out, that being born in the 80s and growing up in an openly secular family in the Bible Belt before the secular movement took off, was rather isolating,
Thomas Lawson
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's the end of the world as we've known it, and that's a good thing. It is not a coincidence that our nation's steady climb toward being more religious, politically and legislatively, has created a nation that has fallen behind in numerous identifiers of a healthy democracy. The top five countries with the highest qualities of life have populations where 16% or less attend church. This doesn't mean these countries are spiritually defunct, it merely means they understand that even though religio ...more
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
I didn't go looking for this book—someone I know received it as a free gift when he became a member of the American Humanist Society ( It looked interesting, so I started reading. It's not bad but not extraordinary, either. Mostly, I'm reading it because I'm hoping it will provide a few insights into how and why religious conservatism has managed to dominate political discourse and policy in the U.S. for the last 30+ years.

So far, the author's argument seems to be
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion-atheism
This book isn't intended to debunk Christianity or religion, but rather encourage U.S. citizens of all faiths to support church-state separation and decry the increasing influence of religion in politics.

This book by exploring how secularism was once widely accepted feature of American politics. David Niose, the author, points specifically at the 1912 election in which 4 different candidates were vying for office: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Eugene Debs, and William Howard Taft. These 4
Kate Lawrence
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Niose educates readers on a number of timely topics, such as that any claim that America has a religious heritage is totally distorted. The founders' intent was to establish a nation that gave no preference to any religion, and until the rise of the Religious Right in the late 20th century, the separation of church and state was clear to most citizens and upheld by law. Since then that clarity has been deliberately undermined, with efforts to put conservative religious views into public school c ...more
Aidan Fortner
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A crucial book for anyone who identifies as an atheist, humanist, nonbeliever, or is on the fence--but I'd venture to say that the sector of the populace that most needs to read it, won't. And that's too bad, because unlike some of the more aggressive New Atheists, Dawkins and Hitchens for instance, David Niose has no desire to bash folks with faith; in fact, he is quick to admit that there is some good to be found within religion, as long as your religion does not impede upon another person's r ...more
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