We had met in a private room because Johnson worried that anywhere else in the town, people might overhear us and be offended by her godlessness. No wonder she often feels alone in her non-belief. But Johnson is far from unique. As I found out when I travelled across the US last year, atheists live in isolation and secrecy all over the country. In a nation that celebrates freedom of religion like no other, freedom not to be religious at all can be as hard to exercise as the right to swim the Atlantic.
America is the well-known exception to the rule that the wealthier and better-educated a country is, the less religious its population. As a Pew Research Center report put it, when it comes to religiosity,
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