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.

Religious and nonreligious identification results from IFYC's 2013 alumni survey.

Nearly 1 in 4 alums of leading U.S. interfaith organization are nonreligious

Earlier this month, Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC)—a leading interfaith organization in the United States that works with college and university campuses to equip young people for cooperative service and dialogue around shared values—released intriguing numbers about the alumni of their programs.

According to their survey results, nearly 1 in 4 IFYC alums identify as atheist (4.7 percent), agnostic (7.1 percent), secular humanist (5.3 percent), or spiritual but not religious (6.5 percent). “The number of IFYC alums that identify as atheist, agnostic, or secular humanist is about as much as our Roman Catholic, Hindu, and Buddhist alumni combined,” said IFYC Director of Alumni Relations Amber Hacker in a recent interview. The large number of nontheist or nonreligious IFYC alums may come as a surprise to some—perhaps especially those wondering whether nonreligious people are actually welcome in interfaith work. When I worked as a contractor for IFYC a number of years ago, I didn’t encounter many other atheists, agnostics, or nonreligious people. But that has shifted dramatically in recent years.