Local and national atheist organizations have flourished in recent years, fed by outrage over the Bush administration’s embrace of the religious right. A spate of best-selling books on atheism also popularized the notion that nonbelief is not just an argument but a cause, like environmentalism or muscular dystrophy.The article also discusses the discrimination atheists have experienced, Pres. Obama's respect of non-religious adherents, the growth and fostering of atheist communities, and their evangelistic outreach, including the belief of and growing lobbyist efforts for a strict separation of church and state.
I, however, found it interesting, though skeptical of its validity, that the atheists interviewed in the article compared their experiences to the struggles of the gay-rights movement:
They liken their strategy to that of the gay-rights movement, which lifted off when closeted members of a scorned minority decided to go public.The article provides several "coming out" stories. While I cannot speak to feelings of discrimination or to the sense of hiding one's true identity, I feel this comparison belittles the struggles that gay men and women have experienced. While my intuition is predicated solely upon anecdotal evidence of several friends, I think that atheists, while perhaps compelled to silence by sociological pressures, do not experience the sense of internalized shame that many gays feel. "Coming out" for a gay can alienate close friends and family members, and I just can't envision the same with atheists. But, I'm not an atheist. What are your thoughts on this comparison?
“It’s not about carrying banners or protesting,” said Herb Silverman.... “The most important thing is coming out of the closet.”