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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Project: Campus only access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies


Communication Studies

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Astrid Sheil


This report outlines the methodology and findings used to create the book Selling Disbelief: A 20 Step Guide to Grow and Promote Atheist and Secular Groups (Appendix A). The book Selling Disbelief outlines a six-month marketing plan and best practices for groups that are part of the growing Secular Movement.

This project is the first systematic academic study of marketing methods in regards to promoting Secular movements. A need for this research has been identified due to a lack of research in this particular field and the continued marginalization facing the non-religious. The objectives of this project were twofold:

The first objective was to identify the themes and methods that are most effective in promoting Secular groups and organizations to the general public and to Atheist, Agnostic, and Secular individuals, and to identify those areas where knowledge or methods were lacking or ineffective.

The second objective was to conduct an extensive literature review of existing marketing best practices, and using the information from objective one as a guide, to adapt existing marketing information for use by Secular groups.

For objective one, the project used ten in-depth interviews with experts in the marketing and organizing of Secular groups. These experts were selected based on years of experience, visibility, and availability. The data was analyzed through Thematic Analysis to find themes on methods, messages, and tactics that have lead to successful marketing and promotion.

For objective two, this project used a review of existing marketing and promotion literature of best practices for community groups of a similar nature to Secular groups. By triangulating the existing marketing literature with themes from the interviews, best practices pertinent to Secular groups were identified.

The interview and research findings of this project were compiled into a handbook titled “Selling Disbelief: A Guide to Organizing and Promoting Secular Organizations” with recommendations and best practices for Secular and Atheist groups to market and promote their organizations.