Reading Time: 2 minutes

An ongoing series of five-minute posts while I’m writing a book on the secular/religious mixed marriage.

PM2Had a good time with Chapter 1 today — a look at the changing nature of both religious and secular identity in the U.S. Neither one means quite what it did 30 years ago at the individual level, which is why the secular/religious marriage has a much better shot at success now.

Despite the culture war bullets whizzing over their heads, there’s more common ground and common experience between the average religious believer and the average nonbeliever than ever before. The data are stunning, including a much greater overlap in social attitudes, political opinions, values, and daily experience than was true even a generation or two ago. Those things bode well for any marriage, and it’s no different for the secular/religious ones.

Our conceptions of what it means to be religious or irreligious are based mostly on the extreme examples of each, even though each extreme is a relative sliver of its worldview. If you think of the secular/religious marriage as Madalyn Murray O’Hair and Pat Robertson…well, it’s no wonder so many of you offered a one-syllable word for that kind of marriage: “Short.” I imagine it would be. But Pat ‘n’ Madalyn is a cartoon with very little to say about the people actually living these marriages.

Yes, there are plenty of secular and religious people who should not be married to each other. But plenty of others willingly manage the difference, sometimes easily, sometimes not. This book is for them.

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.