Atheism will never progress in the USA until we, as atheists, make a concerted effort to change the perception of our fellow citizens.
Why is it that in American atheism has such a bad rap? Is it because we come across as too confrontational? Is it because people believe we want to ban religious expression of all kinds? Maybe we’re viewed as immoral, you know, unlike rapists.
I think it’s a combination of all three actually. I recall as a young person seeing news stories and interviews with Madalyn Murray O’Hair I have to tell you, I thought at that time the woman was toxic. Maybe she actually wasn’t, but the edited interviews, the stories of American Atheists protesting made it appear that way.
As we all know, perception is not necessarily reality. We really never get much of a chance to state our case with the American public. An example is David Silverman, the current president of American Atheists. I’ve seen him regularly on, hold on!, Fox News. But by the end of the segment, Mr. Silverman is shouted down. He remains calm(on the outside), smiles and says “Thank you”.
I don’t know of any atheist that wants to ban religious expression either, do you? We just want it out of our laws. We want our government to actually adhere to our Constitution.
As for morality, I’m sure there are immoral atheists as there are immoral Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. I don’t hear about some pedophile being an atheist though. Do you?
We’re just like the average American, as far as I can determine. We are no more immoral than anyone else.
If we want to succeed in changing the way this country works, we need to change the way atheists are perceived. We can’t depend on the “leaders” to do that for us. We, each in turn, have to make the case.