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Unorganized atheism and the secular movement: reddit as a site for studying ‘lived atheism’

TitleUnorganized atheism and the secular movement: reddit as a site for studying ‘lived atheism’
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsLundmark, E, LeDrew, S
JournalSocial Compass

This article examines discussions on the forum r/atheism in comparison with rhetoric found in contemporary atheist organizations and among leading figures within the atheist movement. We demonstrate how the culture of r/atheism converges with that of formal atheist cultures, most importantly regarding understandings of rationality and how religious people deviate from it, while highlighting areas of tension regarding how to relate to religion and religious people. We conclude that the social experience of community and belonging appears to be as important as other more instrumental goals commonly adopted by secular activists, and that tensions regarding the practice of atheism and the purpose of the forum correspond to tensions found in formal institutional contexts. We thus argue that while r/atheism is not directly or explicitly affiliated with atheist activism, overlap in the nature of discussion and debates is sufficient to consider the forum another window into the development of a general atheist culture practiced in institutional contexts and at the everyday level of ‘lived’ atheism.