Rebecca Vitsmun

2013: Atheism’s 10 defining moments

Atheism was in the headlines perhaps more than ever before in 2013. To highlight some of atheism’s defining moments and trends from the last year, I worked with a panel of ten writers, scholars, and activists to come up with ten major moments or currents in American atheism from 2013. Their contributions are below. Godless congregations become global phenomenon

2013 was a landmark year for atheists, Humanists, and nonreligious people building communities. Ex-pastors Jerry Dewitt and Mike Aus grew innovative and successful congregations in Louisiana and Texas, and the Yale Humanist Community launched in Connecticut.

Janus, the Roman god of endings and beginnings, looks to the future and the past simultaneously.

My worst New Year’s Eve ever . . . one year later

The month of January is named for the Roman god Janus, the god of two faces—one looking forward, the other gazing back. Whatever your dreams are for the coming year, may you be able to gaze at the past without regret and the future without fear.

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus” and founder of the Church Wellness Project. Photo courtesy Tom Ehrich

COMMENTARY: Decency on the rise

(RNS) Did everything come up roses? Sadly, no. It was a rotten year in some respects. Think NSA, Chase Bank, John Boehner, Koch Brothers, scammers preying on soldiers and the elderly, payday lenders and other bottom-feeders. Even so, I end the year feeling positive.

Katy Perry at the "Part of me" premiere in Sydney, Australia - Photo by Eva Rinaldi Photography via Flickr (

Katy Perry “not Christian,” and why that matters

Going to a Christian college in Santa Barbara, it was hard to escape the shadow of Katy Perry. Every third person had known her growing up–they were in elementary school together, or sang in the same church choir, or took dance classes together. I even ended up at the same party as her sister once, a year after graduation. It was 2008, and “I Kissed a Girl” had just made pastor’s daughter Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson a sensation. People were quick to tease me–my father is a pastor, too–about good girls gone bad, rebellious phases, and all manner of not-so-funny jokes.