A History of American Secularism

April 21, 2004

Source: Beliefnet


On April 21, 2004 Beliefnet published an interview with journalist Susan Jacoby, the director of the Center for Inquiry Metro New York, who recently published a book on the history of secularism in America. She notes, "The secularist strain in American culture has been very strong since the beginning, but the nation's secular heritage is virtually unknown to people. A secular government was developed to protect the rights of religious minorities. Most Americans don't know that God is not mentioned in the Constitution. It was a coalition of religious Evangelicals and freethinkers or deists who joined together to get this ratified. And why did the Evangelicals want this then? Because they were a minority and they deeply feared government interference with religion... Ironically, it's the separation of church and state that has probably enabled religion to flourish throughout the 20th century in this country in ways that it doesn't in other developed nations."