Recently, I have been struck by something, and that is the number of people in the news who casually let it be known that they are not religious. This is even true of entertainers who typically avoid saying anything controversial for fear of offending the fans upon whom they depend.
For example, Barry Manilow recently gave a concert in Cleveland to an audience of about 6,000. I am not a fan of his music but I grew up with it and so read the review of his show to see how well he is holding up after so many years of performing. The end of the review noted that he pointed out that has going to turn 70 this year, telling the audience, “Here’s my advice: Have fun with your life… This ain’t a dress rehearsal. This is it.”
It is interesting that the reporter deliberately chose to use this quote in a short news item about the performance, and that there seemed to have been no serious adverse reaction from even an older audience.
I since checked up on Manilow and this is not the first time that he has obliquely referred to his disbelief in a god, though he does not do so routinely nor make a big deal about it.
Once people start mentioning being an atheist casually, as merely one facet of their lives and not their defining characteristic, you know that it has become mainstream.
In fact, it has reached a stage that I get surprised only when I hear writers and artists and other intellectuals mention that they are religious, even mildly so. I do not explicitly seek out atheist writers, so the fact that I encounter so few religious ones must mean something. At the very least, it may signify that the intellectual class as a whole is abandoning religion.