Our special guest tonight will be J. Todd Ormsbee, Ph.D, Associate Professor of American Studies.
As social scientists have increased their study of people who fall somewhere along the atheist spectrum—secular, atheist, agnostic, “nones,” anti-theists—we have also begun to notice the interesting phenomenon of non-believers (self-identified atheists or agnostics) who continue to practice a religion. These “religious atheists” give us a glimpse into a different understanding of religion and its place in society and personal lives of individuals, bringing us back to the broad diversity that we often lump under the category “religion.” Todd will be proposing that, by comparing what religious atheists find valuable in their religions of choice with the global diversity of “religions,” secular, non-religious atheists can find ways to form strategic alliances with religious groups for specific social and political purposes (e.g., to combat anti-science movements on school boards).
Bio: J. Todd Ormsbee
Association Professor of American Studies
Todd received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in American Studies in 2004, specializing in sociological theory and method. His research specialties are sexuality and religion and has studied extensively the formation of gay male cultures in the “long 1960s” (approx. 1960-1973). In sociology of religion, his research has focused on people who change or leave religions as adults. He has recently finished a qualitative research project about people who leave Mormonism and become self-identified atheists or agnostics. Todd teaches a broad range of courses in social and cultural theory and social and cultural history of the United States.