cover image Faith No More: 
Why People Reject Religion

Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion

Phil Zuckerman. Oxford Univ, $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-19-974001-7

In this sociological study of “apostates,” defined as religious people who later become atheists, Zuckerman, a professor of sociology at Pitzer College, interviews former adherents from a variety of religions—among them Muslims, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses—and examines their religious histories and motivations for rejecting belief. Though apostates are a steadily growing category of the American religious landscape, little research focuses on them and much of the public still mistrusts them. Though much work remains to be done on the topic, Zuckerman’s interviews and analysis are an intriguing contribution to the literature, covering everything from a list of the main reasons people leave their religions (parents, friends, education, personal misfortunes, and sex all feature prominently) to a correlation between secularization and women entering the workforce. If anything, the book’s greatest flaw is its brevity: the conclusion, for example, hints at a comparison between apostates in America and atheists elsewhere, which would have been an interesting topic for further exploration. Nevertheless, Zuckerman’s solid research and insights make this book an important contribution to the field and a thoroughly fascinating read. (Nov.)