American society is rapidly secularizing – a radical departure from its historically high level of religiosity–and politics is a big part of the reason. Just as, forty years ago, the Religious Right arose as a new political movement, today secularism is gaining traction as a distinct and politically energized identity. Secular Surge: A New Faultline in American Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2020) examines the political causes and political consequences of this secular surge, drawing on a wealth of original data. The authors show that secular identity is in part a reaction to the Religious Right. However, while the political impact of secularism is profound, there may not yet be a Secular Left to counterbalance the Religious Right. Secularism has introduced new tensions within the Democratic Party while adding oxygen to political polarization between Democrats and Republicans. Still there may be opportunities to reach common ground if politicians seek to forge coalitions that encompass both secular and religious Americans.
David Campbell is the Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy at the University of Notre Dame and the former chairperson of the political science department. His research focuses on civic and political
engagement, with a particular focus on religion (and secularism) and young people.
Geoff Layman serves as the chair of the Department of Political Science and is the co-editor of the journal Political Behavior. His research focuses on political behavior, political parties, and religion and politics, with a particular emphasis on long-term changes in the parties and their electoral coalitions.
Host Ursula Hackett is Senior Lecturer in Politics at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research focuses on American Political Development (APD), federalism, education, and religion and politics. Her award-winning book America's Voucher Politics is out now with Cambridge University Press, and her writing guide Brilliant Essays is published by Macmillan Study Skills.