Last Friday, a New York Times headline declared: “Atheists Debate How Pushy to Be.” This ongoing debate among atheists — “Just how much should we confront the religious?” — is nowhere near resolution.
Last year when I visited Minnesota to spend the winter holidays with my family, I spoke with a Christian friend about my budding efforts as an atheist promoting religious tolerance and interfaith work. She too was excited about the idea of bringing people together around shared values in spite of religious differences, but near the end of our conversation she asked me a pointed question: “I’m a little confused. Isn’t part of being an atheist trying to talk people out of their faith?”
She’s not the first to ask me that. In fact, it’s one of the questions I get most often. It seems that becausemany vocal atheists cite “the end of faith” as their goal, atheism is often perceived as being actively anti-religious to the point of being almost evangelical.