“More than ever, America’s atheists are linking up and speaking out — even here in South Carolina, home to Bob Jones University, blue laws and a legislature that last year unanimously approved a Christian license plate embossed with a cross, a stained glass window and the words ‘I Believe’ (a move blocked by a judge and now headed for trial).

They are connecting on the Internet, holding meet-ups in bars, advertising on billboards and buses, volunteering at food pantries and picking up roadside trash, earning atheist groups recognition on adopt-a-highway signs.

They liken their strategy to that of the gay-rights movement, which lifted off when closeted members of a scorned minority decided to go public.”

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“Among the many extraordinary positions Eagleton takes in this book, perhaps nothing is more startling than the highly original claim that the United States of America is not religious enough. All right, I am paraphrasing — what he actually says is that our nation’s nauseating, wall-to-wall public piety is strictly pro forma. It’s a kind of ideological window dressing for a social and economic system based on the ruthless exploitation of human beings and natural resources, which is about as far from the teachings of that radical Jewish carpenter from Nazareth as you can possibly get.”

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“Another reason cited by many people who are now unaffiliated is the belief that many religions are partly true but no single religion is completely true. Fewer people, however, say they became unaffiliated because they think modern science proves that religion is just superstition, indicating that the belief that science disproves religion is a less important reason for becoming unaffiliated than disenchantment with religious people or institutions. At the same time that the ranks of the unaffiliated have grown, the Landscape Survey also revealed that the unaffiliated have one of the lowest retention rates of any of the major religious groups, with most people who were raised unaffiliated now belonging to one religion or another.”