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Atheist AwakeningSecular Activism and Community in America$
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Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199986323

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199986323.001.0001

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Ritualizing and Commemorating the Secular

Ritualizing and Commemorating the Secular

(p.118) Chapter 4 Ritualizing and Commemorating the Secular
Atheist Awakening

Richard Cimino

Christopher Smith

Oxford University Press

In a reaction to the new atheism, a segment of secularists have been advocating a more positive atheism that seeks to create nontheist alternatives to traditional religion. Rites of passage usually associated with religious services, such as funerals, as well as self-help groups with a spiritual thrust have been reworked by atheist and humanist groups to remove their theistic content while seeking to retain their emotional and therapeutic effects. The chapter examines specific secular rituals organized by secular humanist groups, arguing that such rituals serve both a function of creating solidarity among participants as well as legitimization of secularism to the wider society. At the same time, the use of rituals and talk of “secular spirituality” have divided American secularists.

Keywords:   atheism, secular humanism, secularism, rituals, commemorations

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