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Professor Manning Co-Writes New Book on Organized Secularism in the U.S.

Researchers explore social movement of nonreligious people advocating for equal treatment

Professor Christel Manning

Christel J. Manning, professor of religious studies at Sacred Heart University, has co-written a new book, Organized Secularism in the United States: New Directions in Research, which published Nov. 7. It addresses the social movement of nonreligious people who advocate for equal treatment in a nation where the majority observe religious teachings and traditions.

“The percentage of U.S. population that doesn’t associate with any religion continues to increase, and with that we’ve seen the rise of ‘organized secularism’—associations of nonreligious individuals building networks and establishing a movement that represents them in a society that is still predominantly religious,” Manning said.

The book poses such questions as: What secularist organizations exist? Who are their members? What functions do these organizations serve? How do today’s secularist organizations compare to those of the past? And what is their likely impact on the future of secularism?

Manning, a New Haven resident, was born in southern California and raised in Germany. She holds a master’s degree and doctorate in religious studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has traveled throughout Europe, India and Turkey. Her last book, Losing Our Religion: How Unaffiliated Parents are Raising their Children, was named to the “Top Ten Most Influential Books of 2015” and won the 2016 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Manning’s fellow authors are Ryan T. Cragun, associate professor of sociology at the University of Tampa in Florida; and Lori Fazzino, a sociology instructor at the University of Nevada. Their book was published by De Gruyter, an academic publishing house in Germany.