PJAS 12 Spring-6

Florian Zappe
The Other Exceptionalism: A Transnational Perspective on Atheism in America
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 12 (Spring 2018) pp. 75-87


The United States constitutes an exceptional case in the complex discourse of unbelief in the Western world. Its providential founding myth of being “God’s own country” established an idiosyncratically American social imaginary molded by what Robert Bellah has defined as the “American civil religion”: a pervasive ideological nexus between the narratives of religion and national identity. This essay shows, on the one hand, how a transnational perspective can contribute to an understanding of the development of this idiosyncrasy. On the other hand, it retraces the distinctly transnational trajectory of some early manifestations of atheist thought in the United States.

Keywords: Atheism, Transnationalism, Social Imaginary, Civil Religion, Ernestine L. Rose, Emma Goldman, Robert N. Bellah, Cornelius Castoriadis, Thomas Paine

DOI: 10.7311/PJAS.12/1/2018.06

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