Looking Back – 35 Years Ago in Free Inquiry

“Tribalism ultimately, however, is a distortion of the values of religion, a perversion that poses serious dangers not only to world peace but to the American ideal. The danger is not so much religion as tribalism; and, when one group insists that its morals, teachings, view of life, and cultural values are the only correct ones, not only humanists should mount the barricades, but organized religion everywhere. In the long run, tribalism is not destructive to religion alone but to those higher ideas that religious prophets have preached for many millennia.”

—Vern Bullough, “Religion and Tribalism,”
Free Inquiry, Volume 4, No. 4 (Fall 1984)

Editor’s Note: Vern Bullough (1928–2006), a distinguished historian and sex researcher and a close colleague and friend of Free Inquiry founder Paul Kurtz, was then a contributing editor of the magazine.


“Tribalism ultimately, however, is a distortion of the values of religion, a perversion that poses serious dangers not only to world peace but to the American ideal. The danger is not so much religion as tribalism; and, when one group insists that its morals, teachings, view of life, and cultural values are the only correct …

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