I think because so much of the Abrahamic tradition revolves around converting non-believers, those people who believe in God think that atheists are trying to convert them. This belief is strengthened by the propaganda of the Religious Right and fear/hate-mongers like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Fox News & Friends. These media whores stir up fear in their listeners in order to further their agenda.
The truth is Atheists don’t care if you believe in God. We don’t care if your children pray in school. We don’t care if you wear crosses, erect religious icons on your lawn or cut the stigmata into your palms on a weekly basis. We are not trying to stop you from doing these things. The only thing we ask is that you do not force us to participate or PAY for these things with our tax money.
Is that really too much to ask? If your local school or government were to hold a Satanic Celebration using your tax dollars, I’m pretty sure 98% of the citizens would be screaming bloody murder, because they are not practicing Satanists. Yet, they see nothing wrong with holding a Christian Bible reading as part of a town’s holiday celebration, even though MY tax dollars help pay for that and I am NOT Christian. In fact, 22% of Americans aren’t Christian.
This is why we have the first amendment. The purpose of the establishment clause of the first amendment is to be fair to EVERYONE. Because we don’t all believe the same thing, the government is staying out of the fray. Makes sense. So why do some Christians think that any attempts by the government to step back and stay out of religion is an attack on their beliefs? Why do some Christians think that Atheists want them to abandon their beliefs?
It all comes down to the power of fear. People like Beck and O’Reilly make a living by causing fear. Fundamental religious leaders gain power over their followers through fear. Convince your followers that Atheists are evil and attacking them and they will pull out their wallets and hand over their money for your protection. The truth, that Atheists really don’t care anything about who you pray to or how, is not all that scary and makes a boring story.
So don’t tell me you’ll pray for me, don’t patronize me by saying that God will find a way into my heart, don’t use my tax dollars to pay for your religious events or make laws based on your religious beliefs and don’t call me unpatriotic while you trample on the Constitution and we will get along just fine. Oh, and don’t worry, I have no intention of converting you to Atheism. I don’t want to share the cookies at the monthly meetings.