Theism has bullied the American people into accepting its language and doctrines in public institutions and documents. Thankfully, this has been increasingly challenged in recent years. As an atheist, I do not want to see “In God We Trust” on our currency, recite “under God” in our pledge of allegiance, swear “so help me god” when testifying, or listen to a theistic invocation at the beginning of a public meeting. These references imply that an atheist is not as respected a member of a community or nation as is a theist. It is time this attitude was challenged and its symbols removed.
I have no desire to deny others their theistic beliefs, and I hope that they extend the same courtesy to me. It would be desirable to create a public environment where people holding either belief are accorded equal respect. However, while we may extend respect to those who hold different beliefs, not all beliefs correspond to the facts. Facts exist independently of any perception, thought, belief, or knowledge claim. As members of a community or nation, we should seek facts upon which to base public decisions.
If hope is believing in miracles, accepting that our lives reflect god’s plan, and seeking life after death, then atheism kills hope. If hope is wonder at what evolution has produced, joy in being alive, and belief that humans can make this a more just and caring world, then atheism breeds hope.