Pitzer College Hosts Conference that Explores Ever-Evolving Role of Secularity

Claremont, Calif. (November 17, 2014)—Pitzer College will host the Nonreligion & Secularity Research Network (NSRN) Conference on November 19-20. The conference is co-convened by Pitzer Professor of Sociology Phil Zuckerman, founder of the College’s secular studies program—the first program of its kind.

Over the past 25 years, the number of Americans who say they don’t practice religion has grown by about 200 percent to nearly a third of the US population, according to recent surveys. At the NSRN’s third international conference, presenters from nine countries will explore a variety of issues related to the surge of secularity and nonbelief, including the politics of secularism, the Pope in the age of atheism, the secular studies field, non-religious churches, secularity in the Middle East and “the nones”—people who don’t practice any religion.

NSRN conference keynote speakers are Lori Beaman, professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Ottawa, and Darren Sherkat, professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University. Beaman will deliver this year’s NSRN annual lecture, “‘In the Name of a Draconian Conception of State Neutrality’: Law’s Affirmation that You Can’t Be Good without God.” Sherkat will discuss “Beyond Believing and Belonging: Trends and Predictors of Religious Belief and Belonging in the United States.”

Along with Zuckerman, the conference’s co-conveners are Christel Manning, associate professor of religious studies at Sacred Heart University, and Ryan Cragun, associate professor of sociology at the University of Tampa. Opening and closing remarks will be delivered by Zuckerman, whose book Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions will be available through Penguin Press next month.

The Nonreligion & Secularity Research Network is an international, interdisciplinary association of scholars who are interested in issues related to nonreligion, atheism and secularism. The NSRN convened its first international conference at the University of Oxford in 2009. NYU Press and De Gruyter publishing are conference co-sponsors.

All events are free and open to the public. Please visit the NSRN website for more information.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

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