"How can you be moral without believing in God?"
"Isn't atheism just a religion?"
"Why are you atheists so angry?"
One of the challenges that Atheists face, just for identifying themselves as Atheists, are the questions people ask about Atheism. The challenge is that some people ask these questions sincerely trying to learn more about Atheism, but others are asking out of a sense of condescension and denigration, and how Atheists might answer these questions often changes depending on these distinctions.
By way of the diarist Karen, I read this post by Greta Christina: 9 Questions That Atheists Might Find Insulting (And the Answers).
This reflexive dismissal of our anger's legitimacy does two things. It treats atheists as flawed, broken, incomplete. And it defangs the power of our anger. (Or it tries to, anyway.) Anger is a hugely powerful motivating force -- it has been a major motivating force for every social change movement in history -- and when people try to dismiss or trivialize atheists' anger, they are, essentially, trying to take that power away.It is definitely worth reading in full whether you are a believer trying to learn more about Atheists, or a non-believer who would like a resource to point to instead of answering these same questions time and time again. It provides reasonable, succinct answers, it highlights the dehumanizing effect of these questions, and covers the majority of the major questions Atheists face.
Because basically, these questions often boil down to, "Why are you different?" and the answer is generally, "We're not that different, really."
Atheists still face a lot of hostility in this country. The LGBT community can be seen as a parallel situation. Until not too long ago, the majority of Americans disapproved of same-sex marriage. However, through fostering understanding and spreading the perception that LGBT couples are no different from heterosexuals, the community has slowly gained much wider acceptance. Only by encouraging believers to learn more about and empathize with Atheists will we reach the same level of acceptance.