|Hey Jude, atheists ain't so bad.|
Let's have a look one sentence at a time:
(Jude 1:12-13) They are like clouds carried along by the wind, but bringing no rain
Oh, you must mean people like Hector Berlioz, Percy Grainger, or Sergei Prokofiev. Totally un-inspirational.
They are like trees that bear no fruit, even in autumn, trees that have been pulled up by the roots and are completely dead
Yup, I know the type. Surely you're referring to Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell or Isaac Asimov. These jerks never contributed anything to society.
They are like waves of the sea, with their shameful deeds showing up like foam
Of course, this couldn't possibly refer to Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Fallwell, Larry Craig [pdf], Ted Haggard, John Ensign, or Mark Sanford, etc.
They are like wandering stars, for whom God has reserved a place forever in the deepest darkness
I actually think this is an apt simile; the bright minds of Albert Einstein, Francis Crick, Stephen Hawking, and Thomas Edison (yes, the inventor of the freakin-light bulb), are intellectual stars that are responsible for lighting up the darkness so promoted by rubes like Rick Santorum.Few people, religious or not, are as brilliantly prolific as those mentioned above, but non-believers make up a greater proportion of society than you might think. Depending on how the question is worded, polls have found non-religious people constitute up to 15% of the US population. And while they may not necessarily be re-defining physics, they are actively working to make society better. Just google "atheist community service" and you'll find ample evidence of this fact.
And yet, we're still the least trusted and least electable demographic group in the US. My personal feeling is that this is likely due in large part because the general populace doesn't personally know any atheists. Atheists don't have a human face for them to relate to. There's no personal relationship...that they know of. There's a good chance, especially if you live in or near a large metropolitan area that you know at least a few atheists. But the catch-22 of it is that they are probably likely to be reluctant to talk about their non-belief because religious people are so overwhelmingly dominant in the public discourse, which heavily contributes to non-believers not wanting to speak out, less they be rebuked and ostracized.
On a personal note, when I began to talk about my lack of belief frankly with friends (as the topic came up), I was pleasantly surprised that so many friends were of the same general opinion on religion and the existence of god.
I think this highlights the importance of not hiding one's godless views: 1) there are more people than you think that are in the same boat and 2) if we are to ever hope of weakening religion' sexist, misogynistic, patriarchal, anti-intellectual grip on US society, it will require making ourselves known and promoting ourselves as the normal, moral, and concerned citizens that we are.
If you live in the Washington, DC area or are inclined to make the trip, the Reason Rally is being held on the National Mall on March 24th. It should be a great opportunity to see the breadth of the movement, connect with other non-believers, and hear a great lineup of speakers.