Phil Zuckerman

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Philip Zuckerman
Philip Joseph Zuckerman

(1969-06-26) June 26, 1969 (age 54)
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Oregon
ThesisOpposite Sides of the Street[1] (1998)
Academic work
InstitutionsPitzer College
Main interests Edit this at Wikidata

Philip Joseph Zuckerman is a sociologist and professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California.[2][3] He specializes in the sociology of substantial secularity and is the author of eight books, including Beyond Doubt: The Secularization of Society (2023) What It Means to Be Moral: Why Religion Is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life (2019).

Early life and education[edit]

Born June 26, 1969,[4] to secular Ashkenazi Jewish parents[5] in Los Angeles, California, Zuckerman grew up in Pacific Palisades and studied at Santa Monica College. He transferred to the University of Oregon in Eugene, and there earned a Bachelor of Arts (1992), Master of Arts (1995), and Doctor of Philosophy (1998), all in sociology.[6]


Zuckerman is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California.[7] He is also an affiliated adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University.[8] He was a guest professor at Aarhus University in Denmark in 2006 and 2010.[9] He serves as the special series editor of the Secular Studies book series published by NYU Press.[10] He is the Executive Director of Humanist Global Charity, formerly known as Brighter Brains Institute,[11] which works in 51 nations to fund secular education, humanist students, women's collectives, orphans, helplines, and offers internships in Africa and India Development. [12][11] Zuckerman is on the editorial board of Secularism and Nonreligion and is a convener of the Non-religion and Secularity Research Network Conference. [13] He is also on the editorial board for the journal Secular Studies. [14]

Zuckerman is research editor and a contributing writer at OnlySky, an online platform "dedicated to protecting America’s secular democracy through reality-based journalism, storytelling, and commentary."[15][16]

His research interests are secularity, atheism, apostasy, and Scandinavian culture.[7]

Published work[edit]

Phil Zuckerman's analysis finds differing levels of atheists and agnostics in countries around the world[17]

Phil Zuckerman is the author of seven books, including The Nonreligious[18], co-authored with Luke Galen and Frank Pasquale; Living the Secular Life;[19] Faith No More;[20] Society without God;[21] Invitation to the Sociology of Religion;[22] What it Means to be Moral;[23] and Strife in the Sanctuary.[24] His works have been translated into six languages, including Persian, Korean and Turkish.[25]

Phil Zuckerman's 2008 book Society without God notes that Denmark and Sweden, "probably the least religious countries in the world, and possibly in the history of the world", enjoy "among the lowest violent crime rates in the world [and] the lowest levels of corruption in the world".[26] Zuckerman identifies that Scandinavians have "relatively high rates of petty crime and burglary", but "their overall rates of violent crime—such as murder, aggravated assault, and rape—are among the lowest on earth".[27] In 2009, New York Times columnist Peter Steinfels commented that Society Without God provides evidence that an irreligious society can flourish.[28] Society Without God won the silver prize in Foreword magazine's religion book of 2008,[29] and was featured in The New York Times.[30]

Zuckerman's Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions was released in 2014 and reviewed in The New York Times by Susan Jacoby.[31] Living the Secular Life was designated a "Best Book of 2014" by Publishers Weekly[32] and was featured in a commentary by New York Times columnist David Brooks.[33]

The American Humanist Association has featured Zuckerman as a speaker on rising irreligion in the United States.[2]

Public commentary[edit]

Zuckerman has said that 20 percent of the United States are irreligious and 30 percent of citizens under 30 are.[34] Zuckerman has commented that religion is often conflated with patriotism in the United States.[35] He has stated that while "he applauds the passion and purpose" of American Atheists, they are a minority, as the majority of atheists in America "are not angry, do not hate religion and do not need a forum to vent".[36]

Zuckerman has found that murder rates in Scandinavian countries lowered after abolishing the death penalty, and has opposed the use in the United States.[37]

Zuckerman has found that the religiously unaffiliated tend to be more inclined to progressive politics, and the decline in Protestant Christianity in America is a blow to conservative causes.[38] Zuckerman has commented on the rise of "Jews of no religion", people who identify as being wholly or partially Jewish while having no religion.[39] Zuckerman commented that growing atheist movements in the United States were a response to the impact of the Christian right.[40]

In 2023 he was invited to participate in an Oxford Union debate.

Secular studies program[edit]

In 2011 he founded and currently chairs the secular studies program at Pitzer.[41] When the secular studies program was announced, the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College noted it was the first program to offer a degree in secular studies.[42] The program lets students major in secular studies, including in a core course "Sociology of Secularity".[43][44] The first student to graduate from Pitzer College with a degree in secular studies was the first student in the United States with such a major.[45]

Personal life[edit]

Zuckerman lives in Claremont, California, with his wife and three children.[46]


  • Zuckerman, Phil; Kasselstrand, Isabella and Ryan T. Cragun (2023). Beyond Doubt: The Secularization of Society. New York University Press. ISBN 978-1479814282.
  • Zuckerman, Phil (2019). What It Means to Be Moral: Why Religion Is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life. Berkeley: Counterpoint Press. ISBN 978-1640092747.
  • Zuckerman, Phil (2016). The Nonreligious: Understanding Secular People and Societies. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199924943.
  • Zuckerman, Phil (2014). Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions. London: Penguin Press. ISBN 9781594205088.
  • Zuckerman, Phil (2011). Faith no more : why people reject religion. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199740017.
  • Zuckerman, Phil (2010). Atheism and secularity. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. ISBN 9780313351815.
  • Zuckerman, Phil (2008). Society without God : what the least religious nations can tell us about contentment. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 9780814797143.
  • Manning, Christel; Zuckerman, Phil (2005). Sex and religion. Belmont, California: Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN 9780534524937.
  • Zuckerman, Phil (2003). Invitation to the Sociology of Religion. New York & London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415941266.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zuckerman, Philip (1998). Opposite Sides of the Street: Religious Schism and One Jewish Community's Struggle (PhD dissertation). Eugene, Oregon: University of Oregon. OCLC 39738985.
  2. ^ a b "American Humanist Association Annual Conference Speakers - Phil Zuckerman". American Humanist Association. Archived from the original on 2015-03-02. Retrieved 2014-05-26.
  3. ^ "Guardian profile". Retrieved June 30, 2012.
  4. ^ "Zuckerman, Phil - Library of Congress Name Authority File". Library of Congress. 2003-03-31. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  5. ^ "Why I Decided To Study Non-Belief?". The Forward. 7 June 2011. Retrieved 2020-07-02.
  6. ^ "Bio". Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Faculty directory". Retrieved June 30, 2012.
  8. ^ "Religion Faculty - Claremont Graduate University - Acalog ACMS™". Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-19. Retrieved 2017-03-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Secular Studies - NYU Press | NYU Press". Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  11. ^ a b "Humanist Global Charity: Doing Good Without God". Edhat. 2021-05-20. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  12. ^ "Board Members & Advisors - Brighter Brains". Archived from the original on 2017-05-14. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  13. ^ "Call for Papers: Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network, 3rd International Conference, 19-20 November 2014". ASR. 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  14. ^ "Secular Studies". Brill. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  15. ^ "About Us". OnlySky Media. Retrieved 2023-01-04.
  16. ^ "Phil Zuckerman". OnlySky Media. Retrieved 2023-01-04.
  17. ^ Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns, in: Michael Martin (ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Atheism. Cambridge University Press 2007
  18. ^ Zuckerman, Phil; Galen, Luke W.; Pasquale, Frank L. (2016-03-01). The Nonreligious: Understanding Secular People and Societies (1 ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199924943.
  19. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (2015-10-27). Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions (Reprint ed.). Penguin Books. ISBN 9780143127932.
  20. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (2015-06-01). Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion (Reprint ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190248840.
  21. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (2010-06-07). Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment. New York; Chesham: NYU Press. ISBN 9780814797235.
  22. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (2003-07-26). Invitation to the Sociology of Religion (1 ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 9780415941266.
  23. ^ "What It Means to Be Moral". Counterpoint Press. 2019-02-28. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  24. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (1999-01-11). Strife in the Sanctuary: Religious Schism in a Jewish Community. Walnut Creek London: AltaMira Press. ISBN 9780761990543.
  25. ^ "Lots in Translation: Professor Phil Zuckerman's books hit international bookshelves". Office of Communications. 2013-08-20. Retrieved 2017-06-17.[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (October 2008). Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment. New York: New York University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-8147-9714-3. Zuckerman's work is based on his studies conducted during a 14-month period in Scandinavia in 2005–2006.
  27. ^ (Zuckerman 2008, pp. 5–6)
  28. ^ Peter Steinfels (February 27, 2009). "Scandinavian Nonbelievers, Which Is Not to Say Atheists". The New York Times.
  29. ^ "Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year award". ForeWord Review. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  30. ^ Steinfels, Peter (2009-02-27). "Scandinavian Nonbelievers, Which Is Not to Say Atheists". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-06-17.
  31. ^ Jacoby, Susan (19 December 2014). "'Living the Secular Life,' by Phil Zuckerman". The New York Times.
  32. ^ "PW Best Books 2014: 'Living the Secular Life' by Phil Zuckerman". Publishers Weekly. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 2017-06-17.
  33. ^ Brooks, David (2015-02-03). "Building Better Secularists". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-06-17.
  34. ^ Mandalit del Barco (January 7, 2014). "Sunday Assembly: A Church For The Godless Picks Up Steam". NPR.
  35. ^ "Atheist 'mega-churches' look for nonbelievers". USA Today. November 10, 2013.
  36. ^ Kimberly Winston (Mar 31, 2013). "American Atheists wrestles with its cherished 'grumpy' image". The Christian Century.
  37. ^ Jess Davis (May 7, 2014). "Democracy and the Death Penalty". Claremont Portside. Generation Progress. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  38. ^ LAURIE GOODSTEIN (October 9, 2012). "Percentage of Protestant Americans Is in Steep Decline, Study Finds". The New York Times.
  39. ^ Zehavi, Ben (October 3, 2013). "Rise of 'Jews of no religion' most significant find of Pew study, says director". The Times of Israel.
  40. ^ Manya A. Brachear (June 16, 2010). "Secularists spreading the word". Chicago Tribune.
  41. ^ "Secular Studies". Pitzer College. Retrieved December 1, 2023.
  42. ^ Kimberly Winston (August 4, 2011). "Pitzer College Adds Secular Studies Program As Part Of Growing Trend". Huffington Post.
  43. ^ Arielle Zionts (October 18, 2011). "Studying Non-Believers". Claremont Portside. Generation Progress. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  44. ^ Alan Jacobs (May 20, 2011). "A Bachelor's Degree in Atheism". The Wall Street Journal.
  45. ^ Phil Zuckerman (15 August 2013). "Student Graduates With Degree in Secular Studies". Huffpost Religion.
  46. ^ "Phil Zuckerman - CFI speakers". Center for Inquiry. 12 June 2018.