Paul Kurtz, a leading humanist who founded several secularist organizations, is being mourned by nontheists across the spectrum. Kurtz, who was 86 when he died on Oct. 20, helped establish the infrastructure of what has become a burgeoning freethought movement. His followers say that movement will thrive in his wake.
Kurtz’s passing was announced by the Center for Inquiry, which he founded. Kurtz, a prolific author, also founded the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism and Prometheus Books.
At the time of his death Kurtz was leading a new organization, the Institute for Science and Human Values.
While secularists are mourning his passing, they can also point to the enormous growth in their movement in recent years. There are public personalities and best-selling authors who are making atheism and varieties of nonbelief part of the national conversation.
But there is also an enormous growth in the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated, often called the “nones,” who profess no formal religious ties.
A Pew Forum survey released in early October 2012 showed that in the previous five years, the unaffiliated increased from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent of the U.S. adult population.
But a story in The Washington Post, based on a poll released Oct. 22, 2012, by the Public Religion Research Institute, shows that religiously unaffiliated Americans are significantly less certain to vote than Americans who are religiously affiliated.
ReligionLink has a source guide and other resources about the nontheist movement that provide background and expert sources for reporters writing about this topic.
Related ReligionLink editions
- Freethinkers: A source guide to the growing nontheist community
- Atheist awakening: The appeal of unbelief
- Christopher Hitchens, atheist writer, dies: A roundup of reaction
Articles and obituaries on Kurtz
- Read the Oct. 22, 2012, Associated Press obituary.
- Read the obituary at the Center for Inquiry.
- Read the obituary posted by the American Humanist Association.
- Read an Oct. 23, 2012, Washington Post Guest Voices column about Kurtz by Herb Silverman, founder and president of the Secular Coalition for America.
- The Institute for Science and Human Values plans to release a statement from Kurtz’s family and an obituary.