From Pariahs to Patriots: Organized Atheism in America, 1925-2011 Open Access

Grudzina, Phillip David (2013)

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This honors thesis traces the history of American atheist groups from their origins through the recent past. I find that their overall size, composition, and leadership structure changed little until a small group of atheist intellectuals emerged in the twenty-first century. After the September 11th terrorist attacks the intellectuals began publicly criticizing numerous aspects religious belief and explicitly advocating atheism as a solution to sociopolitical problems. While much of their success stemmed from broad, generational developments, I show that their decisions and styles of activism directly impacted pre-existing atheist groups, ultimately causing them to embrace new tactics and modes of leadership.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1. Proto-Organized Atheism: 1925-1960 12

2. The O'Hair Era: 1965-1995 15

3. Doldrums and Disarray in the Shadow of O'Hair: 1995-2007 37

4. Atheist Intellectuals: Their Emergence and Impact 48

5. Organizational Integration and Growth: 2008-2011 75

Conclusion 84

Bibliography 87

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