Richard Cimino is founding editor of Religion Watch, a monthly publication reporting on trends and research in contemporary religion; he is the author of several books on religion, including Shopping for Faith. Christopher Smith is an independent researcher whose areas of interest include secularism and social theory.
In this scholarly work, the authors examine the evolution of organized secularism in America which includes atheists (many do not tolerate the term) and humanists. They are reacting to the conservative maneuvers in politics since 1980. Atheist leaders have defended themselves against attacks and even had their own 2012 Reason Rally in Washington, D.C, that attracted 8,000 to 20,000 attendees.
Cimino and Smith argue that secularists have taken up the crusade for group rights and equal treatment in society. The growing market for books by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens have advanced their cause along with a concerted effort to get the word out via the Internet. Films, television, and comedy venues have helped popularize the atheist critique of organized religion to a mass audience.
Secularists of all stripes are also looking for rituals to forge communities out of individualists, even those many of these folk are by nature "non-joiners." According to a 2012 Pew report, atheists only make up about 2.4 percent of the population. But recently they have seemed like the mouse that roared!