The email I was answering was from an Independent Baptist fundamentalist — the type who believes Baptists and no others are members of God’s true church, commissioned by Christ to do His work of preaching the gospel to the world. This is the religion I grew up in. I don’t have permission to post his email, so I won’t; but this is my response to it.
I know of no atheist who wants to “keep God out of the public conversation.” Rather, you can find books and articles written by Atheists all over the place. What we want to do is keep religion out of government and government out of religion.
If a bunch of football players want to get together on their own before a game and pray, that is their business. I don’t know of anybody who objects. But schools and teachers that are funded with public money are government agencies and employees. They have no business organizing or leading prayers or any other religious service. This tends to establish religion.
You said, “The Atheists should just ignore anything that is connected with God, since he doesn’t exist, shouldn’t they?” The answer is a definite NO! It is not god we fear. It is “God’s people.” As I mentioned in an email not too long ago, our founding fathers had personal experience with church and state getting mixed up together. That’s exactly why they forbade any establishment of religion in the United States. It’s why Thomas Jefferson spoke of a “great wall of separation” between church and state in this country.
All most atheists want is for government agencies and government employees doing their jobs to stop foisting religion on the rest of us. If they want to pray on the job, let them pray silently. If students want to pray, let them pray silently or in such a place that it doesn’t interfere with other people, and let them not be influenced by the government employees (teachers or principals or their representatives).
Do you honestly want government employees teaching your children to pray? You do understand, I assume, that some of these teachers and principals will be Catholics and members of other religions. Maybe even Muslims. Maybe even no religion at all. Maybe atheists. I have never understood why any fundamentalist Christian would want to submit his or her children to religious teaching by someone they disagree with so strongly.
Court rulings should be based on the Constitution and laws of the United States and each individual state, not the 10 Commandments, shariah law, or anything else. For this reason, Signs and other depictions of the 10 Commandments have no place in court rooms or on government property.
Again, since there is no established religion in this country, our coins should not say “in God we trust.” Our Pledge of Allegiance should not say we are “one nation under God.” We have never been a nation under God; We are a nation under the Constitution of the United States.
These are my opinions. I cannot speak for other atheists. But if you actually read what atheists say, instead of just assuming that you know, you will find that most of them seem to agree pretty closely with what I’m saying.