Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture

The Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture (ISSSC) is located at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. ISSSC was established in 2005 to advance the understanding of the role of secular values and the process of secularization in contemporary society and culture. Designed to be multidisciplinary and nonpartisan, the Institute conducts research, lectures and public events.[1]

Author and professor Barry Kosmin, PhD created the ISSSC and remains the director of the Institute.

Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture
ISSSS logo
TypeResearch Institute
PurposeThe Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture (ISSSC) was established to advance understanding of the role of secular values and the process of secularization in contemporary society and culture. Nonpartisan and multidisciplinary, the Institute conducts academic research, sponsors curriculum development, and presents public events.
HeadquartersTrinity College, Hartford, CT USA
Official language
primarily English
Key people
Barry A. Kosmin Director
Ariela Keysar Assoc. Director
Juhem Navarro-Rivera Research Fellow
AffiliationsTrinity College, Hartford, CT USA

Barry Kosmin

Barry Kosmin at CFI Summit OCT 2013
Barry Kosmin at CFI Summit October 2013

Author of over 20 books, Kosmin is a research professor of public policy and law at Trinity College. In October 2011 Kosmin accepted a seat on the Board of Directors of Center for Inquiry (CFI) where his responsibilities include the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, as well as serving on the CFI affiliate committee.

He is the joint editor of the new academic journal Secularism & Nonreligion and was one of the principal investigators of the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS).[2] Kosmin is considered the leading expert "on the growing percentage of Americas who lack a religious identity, the so called "nones".[3] Kosmin has been featured on podcasts such as Center for Inquiry's Point of Inquiry and published in Free Inquiry magazine discussing the results of the ARIS.[3][4][5][6]

American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS)

Previously named the National Survey of Religious Identification in 1990, it was renamed the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) in 2001. The survey was originally created as a social experiment to record the response to the "What is your religion?" question. They found it was necessary to ask a series of questions such as "Do you want to have a religious funeral?" in order to get a better grasp of the answer to the main question.[7]

The 2001 survey intended to replicate the 1990 survey. Data was collected from over 50,000 households over a 4-month period.[8] In 2008 the ARIS again randomly called over 50,000 households and questioned adults about their religious affiliations, if any.[9] ARIS is the survey used by the U.S. Census in the Statistical Abstract of the U.S. to show the religious distribution of the U.S. Population.[10]

The results of the ARIS have been discussed in many news reports by ABC News,[11] The Christian Science Monitor,[12] and USA Today.[13]

Academics and curriculum development

ISSSC develops new multi-disciplinary courses based on a common theme every year with associated faculty at Trinity College, Hartford and the Claremont Colleges, California. The cross-discipline themes include (by year):

  • 2005-06: The Roots of the Secular Tradition in the West
  • 2006-07: The Secular Tradition and Foundations of the Natural Sciences
  • 2007-08: Secularism and the Enlightenment
  • 2008-09: The Global Impact of Secular Values
  • 2009-10: The Secular Tradition in General Education

Social science research

International Survey: Worldviews and Opinions of Scientists (India 2008)[14]


  • Religion in a Free Market: Religious and Non-Religious Americans—Who, What, Why and Where (by Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar)


  1. ^ "Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture". Trinity College. 2000. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  2. ^ "Kosmin Named to Board of Directors". Center for Inquiry. October 5, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Mooney, Chris (April–May 2011). "The Future of Irreligion, Part 1: A Conversation with Barry A. Kosmin" (PDF). Free Inquiry. 31 (3). Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  4. ^ "Barry Kosmin - One Nation, Losing God". Point of Inquiry. 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  5. ^ Mooney, Chris (June–July 2011). "The Future of Irreligion, Part 2: A Conversation with Barry A. Kosmin" (PDF). Free Inquiry. 31 (4). Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  6. ^ Navarro-Rivera, Juhem (December–January 2011). "Media Stereotypes and the Invisible Latino 'Nones'". Free Inquiry. 31 (1). Retrieved October 16, 2011. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ "National Survey of Religious Identification (1990): The Aim of the NSRI". ISSSC. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  8. ^ "American Religious Identification Survey (2001)". ISSSC. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  9. ^ "About ARIS 2008". ISSSC. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  10. ^ "Table 74. Population of Group Quarters by State 2000-2010" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  11. ^ Dan Harris. "America Is Becoming Less Christian, Less Religious". ABC Newsdate=2009-03-09. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  12. ^ Jane Lampman. "Survey sees a drift away from religion in America". Christian Science Monitordate=2009-03-10. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  13. ^ Cathy Lynn Grossman (2009-03-09). "'Nones' now 15% of population". USA Todaydate=2009-03-09. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  14. ^ "Worldviews and Opinions of Scientists". ISSSC. 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-31.

External links

Action Party (Italy)

The Action Party (Italian: Partito d'Azione, PdA) was a liberal-socialist political party in Italy. The party was anti-fascist and republican. Its prominent leaders were Carlo Rosselli, Ferruccio Parri, Emilio Lussu and Ugo La Malfa. Other prominent members included Leone Ginzburg, Ernesto de Martino, Norberto Bobbio, Riccardo Lombardi, Vittorio Foa and the Nobel-winning poet Eugenio Montale.

Austin Dacey

Austin Dacey (born April 19, 1972) is an American philosopher, writer, and human rights activist whose work concerns secularism, religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience. He is the author of The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life, The Future of Blasphemy: Speaking of the Sacred in an Age of Human Rights, and a 2006 New York Times op-ed entitled "Believing in Doubt," which criticized the ethical views of Pope Benedict. He is a representative to the United Nations for the International Humanist and Ethical Union and the creator and director of The Impossible Music Sessions.

Criticism of atheism

Criticism of atheism is criticism of the concepts, validity, or impact of atheism, including associated political and social implications. Criticisms include positions based on the history of science, findings in the natural sciences, theistic apologetic arguments, arguments pertaining to ethics and morality, the effects of atheism on the individual, or the assumptions that underpin atheism.

Various contemporary agnostics like Carl Sagan and theists such as Dinesh D'Souza have criticised atheism for being an unscientific position. Analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, argues that a failure of theistic arguments might conceivably be good grounds for agnosticism, but not for atheism; and points to the observation of an apparently "fine-tuned Universe" as more likely to be explained by theism than atheism. Oxford Professor of Mathematics John Lennox holds that atheism is an inferior world view to that of theism and attributes to C.S. Lewis the best formulation of merton's thesis that science sits more comfortably with theistic notions on the basis that Men became scientific in Western Europe in the 16th and 17th century "[b]ecause they expected law in nature, and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.' In other words, it was belief in God that was the motor that drove modern science". American geneticist Francis Collins also cites Lewis as persuasive in convincing him that theism is the more rational world view than atheism.

Other criticisms focus on perceived effects on morality and social cohesion. The Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire, a deist, saw godlessness as weakening "the sacred bonds of society", writing: "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him". The father of classical liberalism, John Locke, believed that the denial of God's existence would undermine the social order and lead to chaos. Edmund Burke, an 18th-century Irish philosopher and statesman praised by both his conservative and liberal peers for his "comprehensive intellect", saw religion as the basis of civil society and wrote that "man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail long". Pope Pius XI wrote that Communist atheism was aimed at "upsetting the social order and at undermining the very foundations of Christian civilization". In the 1990s, Pope John Paul II criticised a spreading "practical atheism" as clouding the "religious and moral sense of the human heart" and leading to societies which struggle to maintain harmony.The advocacy of atheism by some of the more violent exponents of the French Revolution, the subsequent militancy of Marxist–Leninist atheism and prominence of atheism in totalitarian states formed in the 20th century is often cited in critical assessments of the implications of atheism. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke railed against "atheistical fanaticism". The 1937 papal encyclical Divini Redemptoris denounced the atheism of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, which was later influential in the establishment of state atheism across Eastern Europe and elsewhere, including Mao Zedong's China, Kim's North Korea and Pol Pot's Cambodia. Critics of atheism often associate the actions of 20th-century state atheism with broader atheism in their critiques. Various poets, novelists and lay theologians, among them G. K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis, have also criticized atheism. For example, Chesterton holds that "[h]e who does not believe in God will believe in anything".

Demographics of Virginia

The demographics of Virginia are the various elements used to describe the population of the Commonwealth of Virginia and are studied by various government and non-government organizations. Virginia is the 12th-most populous state in the United States with over 8 million residents and is the 35th largest in area.

Haredi Judaism

Haredi Judaism (Hebrew: חֲרֵדִי‬ Ḥaredi, IPA: [χaʁeˈdi]; also spelled Charedi, plural Haredim or Charedim) is a broad spectrum of groups within Orthodox Judaism, all characterized by a rejection of modern secular culture. Its members are often referred to as strictly Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox in English, although the term "ultra-Orthodox" is considered pejorative by many of its adherents. Haredim regard themselves as the most religiously authentic group of Jews, although this claim is contested by other streams.Haredi Judaism is a reaction to societal changes, including emancipation, the Haskalah movement derived from the Enlightenment, acculturation, secularization, religious reform in all its forms from mild to extreme, the rise of the Jewish national movements, etc. In contrast to Modern Orthodox Judaism, which hastened to embrace modernity, the approach of the Haredim was to maintain a steadfast adherence both to Jewish Law and custom by segregating themselves from modern society. However, there are many Haredi communities in which getting a professional degree or establishing a business is encouraged, and contact exists between Haredi and non-Haredi Jews, as well as between Haredim and non-Jews.Haredi communities are primarily found in Israel, North America, and Western Europe. Their estimated global population currently numbers 1.5–1.8 million, and, due to a virtual absence of interfaith marriage and a high birth rate, their numbers are growing rapidly. Their numbers have also been boosted by a substantial number of secular Jews adopting a Haredi lifestyle as part of the Baal teshuva movement.


ISSSC may refer to:

Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, an academic institution

International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs, a fictional society in the novel Heart of Darkness intended to mock the Berlin Conference

Irreligion in India

Atheism and agnosticism have a long history in India and flourished within the Sramana movement. Indian religions like Jainism, Buddhism and certain schools of Hinduism, though not all, consider atheism to be acceptable. India has produced some notable atheist politicians and social reformers. According to 2011 Census of India, 99.76% of Indians identified with a religion while 0.24% did not state their religious identity. According to the 2012 WIN-Gallup Global Index of Religion and Atheism report, 81% of Indians were religious, 13% were non-religious, 3% were convinced atheists, and 3% were unsure or did not respond.

Jewish culture

Jewish culture is the culture of the Jewish people from the formation of the Jewish nation in ancient Israel through life in the diaspora and the modern state of Israel. Judaism guides its adherents in both practice and belief, so that it has been called not only a religion, but an orthopraxy. Not all individuals or all cultural phenomena can be classified as either "secular" or "religious", a distinction native to Enlightenment thinking.Jewish culture in its etymological meaning retains linkage to the Jewish people's land of origin, the people named for the Kingdom of Judah, study of Jewish texts, practice of community charity, and Jewish history. The term "secular Jewish culture" therefore refers to many aspects, including: Religion and World View, Literature, Media, and Cinema, Art and Architecture, Cuisine and Traditional Dress, attitudes to Gender, Marriage, and Family, Social Customs and Lifestyles, Music and Dance. "Secular Judaism," is a distinct phenomenon related to Jewish secularization - a historical process of divesting all of these elements of culture from their religious beliefs and practices.Secular Judaism, derived from the philosophy of Moses Mendelssohn, arose out of the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, which was itself driven by the values of the Enlightenment. In recent years, the academic field of study has encompassed Jewish Studies, History, Literature, Sociology, and Linguistics. Historian David Biale has traced the roots of Jewish secularism back to the pre-modern era. He, and other scholars highlight the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, who was dubbed "the renegade Jew who gave us modernity" by scholar and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein in an intellectual biography of him. Today, the subject of Jewish secularization is taught, and researched, at many North American and Israeli universities, including Harvard, Tel Aviv University, UCLA, Temple University and City University of New York which have significant Jewish alumni. Additionally, many schools include the academic study of Judaism and Jewish culture in their curricula.

Throughout history, in eras and places as diverse as the ancient Hellenic world, in Europe before and after the Age of Enlightenment, in Al-Andalus, North Africa and the Middle East, in India and China, and in the contemporary United States and Israel, Jewish communities have seen the development of cultural phenomena that are characteristically Jewish without being at all specifically religious. Some factors in this come from within Judaism, others from the interaction of Jews with host populations in the diaspora, and others from the inner social and cultural dynamics of the community, as opposed to religion itself. This phenomenon has led to considerably different variations of Jewish culture unique to their own communities.

New religious movements in the Pacific Northwest

New religious movements in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States have a history going back to the 19th century.

Phil Zuckerman

Philip Joseph Zuckerman (born June 26, 1969), known as Phil Zuckerman, is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. He specializes in the sociology of secularity. He is the author of several books, including Society Without God (2008) for which he won ForeWord Magazine's silver book of the year award, and Faith No More (2011).

Posen Foundation

The Posen Foundation is a nonprofit foundation that works internationally to support Jewish learning and advance Felix Posen's belief that a Jewish education is the birthright of every Jewish child and adult. By focusing on the cultural aspects of Jewish history, philosophy, and creativity, the Posen Foundation seeks to offer secular Jews an entrée into Jewish life and learning.

The Posen Foundation works in three main areas: teaching and teacher training; publishing books, textbooks, classroom syllabi, and online resources; and scholarly research. Most its projects are carried out through its office in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Religiosity and education

The relationship between the level of religiosity and the level of education has been studied since the second half of the 20th century.

The parameters of the two components diverse: the "level of religiosity" remains a concept which is difficult to differentiate scientifically, while the "level of education" is easier to compile, such as official data on this topic, because data on education is publicly accessible in many countries.

Different studies show contrasted conclusions regarding any link between the two concepts, depending on whether "religiosity" is measured by religious practices (attendance at places of worship, for example) or specific religious beliefs (belief in miracles, for example), with notable differences between nations. For example, an international study states that in some Western nations the intensity of beliefs decreases with education, but attendance and religious practice increases. Other studies indicate that the religious have higher education than the non-religious. Other studies find that the positive correlation with low or non religiosity and education has been reversed in the past few decades.In terms of university professors, one study concluded that in the US, the majority of professors, even at "elite" universities, were religious.


Secularism, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the "indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations." As a philosophy, secularism seeks to interpret life on principles taken solely from the material world, without recourse to religion. In political terms, secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institution and religious dignitaries (the attainment of such is termed secularity). Under a brief definition, Secularism means that governments should remain neutral on the matter of religion and should not enforce nor prohibit the free exercise of religion, leaving religious choice to the liberty of the people. One manifestation of secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people. Another manifestation of secularism is the view that public activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be uninfluenced by religious beliefs or practices.Secularism draws its intellectual roots from Greek and Roman philosophers such as Zeno of Citium and Marcus Aurelius; from Enlightenment thinkers such as Erasmus, John Locke, Denis Diderot, Voltaire, Baruch Spinoza, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine; and from more recent freethinkers and atheists such as Robert Ingersoll, Bertrand Russell, and Christopher Hitchens. It shifts the focus from religion to other ‘temporal’ and ‘this-worldly’ things with emphasis on nature, reason, science, and development.The purposes and arguments in support of secularism vary widely. In European laicism, it has been argued that secularism is a movement toward modernization, and away from traditional religious values (also known as secularization). This type of secularism, on a social or philosophical level, has often occurred while maintaining an official state church or other state support of religion. In the United States, some argue that state secularism has served to a greater extent to protect religion and the religious from governmental interference, while secularism on a social level is less prevalent.On the other hand, Meiji era Japan maintained that it was secular and allowed freedom of religion despite enforcing State Shinto and continuing to prohibit certain "superstitions;" scholar of religion Jason Ānanda Josephson has labelled this conception of the secular "the Shinto Secular" and noted that it follows a pattern established in certain European constitutions.

Superstition in India

Superstition in India is considered a widespread social problem. Superstition refers to any belief or practice which is explained by supernatural causality, and is in contradiction to modern science. Some beliefs and practices, which are considered superstitious by some, may not be considered so by others. The gap, between what is superstitious and what is not, widens even more when considering the opinions of the general public and scientists. This article notes beliefs or practices in India, which have been deemed of being superstitions or pseudoscience, though opinions may vary on some issues.

Trinity College (Connecticut)

Trinity College is a private liberal arts college in Hartford, Connecticut. Founded as Washington College in 1823 as an alternative to Yale, it is the second-oldest college in the state of Connecticut.

Coeducational since 1969, the college enrolls 2,300 students. Trinity offers 38 majors and 26 minors, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. 73.1 percent of classes at the college contain fewer than 20 students. The college is a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), informally referred to as the Little Ivies. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Trinity tied for 46th in its 2019 ranking of best national liberal arts colleges in the United States.


Virginia ( (listen)), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America and "Mother of Presidents" because eight U.S. presidents were born there, more than any other state. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2017 is over 8.4 million.The area's history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan. In 1607 the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony. Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony's early politics and plantation economy. Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution. In the American Civil War, Virginia's Secession Convention resolved to join the Confederacy, and Virginia's First Wheeling Convention resolved to remain in the Union; that led to the creation of West Virginia. Although the Commonwealth was under one-party rule for nearly a century following Reconstruction, both major national parties are competitive in modern Virginia.The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World. The state government was ranked most effective by the Pew Center on the States in both 2005 and 2008. It is unique in how it treats cities and counties equally, manages local roads, and prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia's economy has many sectors: agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley; federal agencies in Northern Virginia, including the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); and military facilities in Hampton Roads, the site of the region's main seaport.

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