It every human being's right to be an atheist. End of story. No discussion.
Maybe you didn't choose to be atheist. Perhaps you were never indoctrinated into a system of faith or other form of theist philosophy. Arguably, we are all born atheist. It is the only default position that allows for the existence of all the religions - which are, for the most part, taught to children from an early age (many would say imposed on
.) However, those who weren't indoctrinated can still choose to have faith. There are plenty of opportunities - many will come, literally, to our doors. So, still, there remains an ongoing choice to remain atheist.
But this got me thinking: is atheism a right, choice and a privilege? Again, I aver it is a right. And I guess I just summed up that it's both a choice to deconvert and a choice to remain atheistic.
The choice to remain atheistic is understandable. Going the conversion route to theism post childhood seems like choosing repression over freedom. I suggest it takes a moment of great trepidation or weakness to take a sincere move toward theism as an adult. I can imagine an addict, starving person, or parent who survived the death of a young child being receptive to that move; especially when there are plenty of people out there who offer help laced liberally with their religious dogma and insidious propaganda.
The choice to deconvert is, nearly always, a reasoned one spurred by an initial emotional distaste for what is done, sanctioned or applauded in the name of the god of a religion or spiritual subculture. If indoctrinated before the age of five, I have to ask this question: what tools or impetus is required to throw off that shackle?
Nourished intelligence, secular/pluralistic education, recognized and supported talent, victimization by religious officers, friends from diverse theistic backgrounds, noticing an incompatible message between the religion as taught and the scriptures it claims to be based on, courage, joie-de-vivre, atheist associates, etc. How many of these or other things must be in place to allow an escape from the comfortable, cloistered world of rote and rite?
Many of the things I mentioned are far more accessible to the upper classes. It might argued that being a poor Haitian would make it harder to believe in god. It turns out, the exact opposite is true. Haiti is not only the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere; it is arguably the most superstitious as well.
So, is adult atheism a state of mind we can grant ourselves despite the conditions of our birth and upbringing? Or is adult atheism nearly as much an accident of birth as any type of adult theism? I'd like to say that both points of view hold truth; that they represent an authentic dichotomy. Unfortunately, I'm not convinced the latter is more valid than the first, on balance.
And, since it is a non-starter for real atheist evangelism to occur (since there is no sacred book of enshrined dogma to claim holds the absolute truth), we must look for every other means of poking holes in the faith-shells most of our fellow humans wear nearly everywhere they go. We must offer them a chance at mental and emotional freedom. We must defend separation of Church and State, champion pluralism, fight for a secular curricula in our schools - not just in the sciences but in the arts as well, and diligently weigh the costs of voting for politicians with religious agendas; even those who may also advance other positions we support.
We must exercise the privilege of being atheist in a way that makes it accessible to the less fortunate. Noblesse oblige ... toujours, noblesse oblige.