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The Varieties of Nonreligious ExperienceAtheism in American Culture$
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Jerome P. Baggett

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479874200

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479874200.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 18 May 2021

Maintaining Atheist Identities

Maintaining Atheist Identities

Stigma, Reason, Feelings

Chapter:
(p.75) 3 Maintaining Atheist Identities
Source:
The Varieties of Nonreligious Experience
Author(s):

Jerome P. Baggett

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479874200.003.0003

Whereas only a minority of American atheists participate in atheism-related groups and communities, this chapter describes how many more of them maintain their atheist identities by situating themselves within an “imagined community” of nonbelievers. They do this by telling “stigma stories” that range from minor suspicions about being treated differently by believers to outright rejection by them. Next, they cast the believers in their midst as being irrational insofar as they are deemed insufficiently equipped, unable, or unwilling to properly use their reason when addressing matters of faith and religion. Finally, they access and rely upon their feelings as a kind of affective confirmation that they are living decent and purposive lives without religion. These feelings include regret about their religious pasts, a feeling of freedom from religious strictures in the present, and a sense of responsibility for carving out meaningful lives into the future.

Keywords:   imagined community, stigma stories, irrational, feelings, regret, freedom, responsibility

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