Thank you for taking the time to read this discussion, it's actually the first time I've posted a discussion that wasn't based on an article I read online.

I'd like to start out this discussion by pointing out some facts:

  • As of 1999, atheists (or at least nonbelievers) are the third largest religious demographic in the US (never mind that fact that we're not a religion).
  • We are the fastest growing segment of the US population in all fifty states, and therefore the country, comprising between 15-20% of the US population.
  • There are more nonbelievers in this country than there are jews, muslims, hindus, and buddhists combined and doubled.
  • Nonbelievers outnumber followers of the mormon branch of christianity in this country 10 to 1.
  • 30% of americans under 30 identify themselves as nonbelievers.

These facts are great news for atheist activists everywhere.  They mean that we're winning our equality.  But as every cloud has a silver lining, that saying also works in reverse, in essence meaning that every silver lining comes with a cloud.  While I too rejoice in our growing population and our rising influence, I also see it as something of a double-edged sword.

Here's my reasoning; no matter how many moderate christians we deconvert, no matter how many people we convince of our equality, there will always be those who deem us as inferior simply because of our beliefs (or lack thereof).  Just ask many religious americans who do not follow the christian faith.

And as we grow in numbers and influence, those that seek to deny us of the equality that is truly ours will escalate their attempts to do so.  They may even become more extremist in their attempts to do so.

My purpose in starting this discussion and writing this article is not to convince the activists among us (myself included) that our cause is hopeless or to dissuade closeted members of the atheist community from revealing their true selves.  My hope in starting this discussion is to make sure activists everywhere are aware of this fact and are ready to deal with this inconvenience.

The great civil rights movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have always faced resistance from those who refuse to be educated and from those who refuse to step out of the darkness and into the light.

I encourage activists everywhere who read this to use this discussion to discuss new ideas for furthering our cause and dealing with the inevitable resistance.  I also hope that the American Atheists organization check back on this discussion periodically to see what kinds of ideas are being conceived of.

In conclusion, I thank you all for your time and I look forward to the day when we can truly be one nation, indivisible.

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Replies to This Discussion

I, like you, am very pleased that the non-religious segment of our society continues to grow and to grow steadily.  I also share your concern that there will be a backlash to our progress.  In the coming years I see moderate religion becoming less important (hopefully) to more and more people and their population getting smaller.  The problem with this scenario is that the truly die-hard and fundamentalist members will feel increasingly marginalized and threatened and will violently lash out as never before.  My vision of the future is that we will have less religious members, but the small group that seeks to persevere will be more fundamental, militant and threatening.
Correct, that's what I'm saying with this article.  But I also established this discussion so we could share our ideas for furthering our cause and potentially dealing with this eventual backlash.  To some extent, the modern government is in fact on our side; President Obama is not only the first American President to identify nonbelievers as citizens, but he's also done it at least twice (the most recent instance I've heard was, ironically enough, at a prayer breakfast), and New York City Mayor Bloomberg supports our lawsuit to get the WTC cross removed from Ground Zero.  I also had a good idea to try and get our cause recognized by mainstream America, we take a page from the mormon playbook and air television ads that depict nonbelievers in America in going about their daily lives and helping their community.
True, but you're interpretation compares the religious to a virus.  There is actually a difference; whereas a virus essentially has no choice but to make an organism sick, the devoutly religous can in fact choose whether or not to become more extremist and violent.  My fear is that they will and they will convince multitudes to side with them.  Which is why I set this discussion up as a means of commuication amongst the nonbeliever communities world wide to discuss ideas about how to not only further our cause, but also to defend against the eventual backlash.

One reason they deem us inferior is they can't point out the good we do. We usually don't plant an atheists flag with every donation we give. My wife and I are actually trying to create a sort of online humanist church. We want to help the poor. We've found a humanists elementary school in Uganda to support. Check out our website

There's a link to the school on it too. But yeah we get marginalized because we are easy to stereotype. We need to be a bit more vocal that we are good people.

Very good, if we take up my idea to air television ads featuring atheists as they help their community, you should be featured.  You can also mention that you're able to donate a lot more to the poor because you don't have any churches to pay maintenance for.



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