Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and perhaps one of the best known atheists of our time, is calling on all his fellow atheists to come out of the closet and let their voices be heard.
As far as subjective impressions allow and in the admitted absence of rigorous data, I am persuaded that the religiosity of America is greatly exaggerated, states the Oxford University professor in his introduction to the recently launched "Out Campaign. Our choir is a lot larger than many people realise.
In a 2005 AP-Ipsos poll on religion, only 2 percent of Americans who responded said they did not believe in God, but Dawkins believes that is only because much of his choir remains in the closet.
Religious people still outnumber atheists, he acknowledges in his statement, but not by the margin they hoped and we feared.
Through his campaign, Dawkins is urging atheists to lift up their voices against the intrusion of religion in our schools and politics and to express how tired they are of being bullied by those who would force their own religious agenda down the throats of our children and our respective governments.
We need to KEEP OUT the supernatural from our moral principles and public policies, the campaign states.
As prominent evangelical leader Chuck Colson noted in a recent commentary, Most traditional atheists simply had their own belief system, and if we (Christians) wanted our belief system that was okay.
Todays atheists, however, are not just dismissing religion or denying the existence of God; some are making militant efforts to spread their godless message, as if they were given the charge to go and make unbelievers of all nations, immersing them with doubt, realism, and antagonism (the far-from-great commission).
Theyre like the communists who feared religion more than anything else because it was a competing truth claim, Colson stated.
The Associated Press this year described the all-out assault on religious faith by atheist authors like Christopher Hitchens, who are reaching the top of the best-seller list, as a sign of widespread resentment over the influence of religion in the world among nonbelievers.
And Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., said the success of books such as Dawkins' "The God Delusion," Hitchens "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," or Sam Harris "The End of Faith" reflect a new vehemence in the atheist critique.
"I don't believe in conspiracy theories," Mouw said, according to AP, "but it's almost like they all had a meeting and said, 'Let's counterattack.'"
Regardless of whether or not the current atheist movement is the result of some conspiracy or whatnot, and despite how small the movement may be, believers need to be challenged by it.
Going out and making disciples of all nations as Jesus commanded is already a large task as it is, but when youre up against a group of individuals again, as small as they may be that is trying to undo what has been done, spreading faith in God could for some come to resemble a game of Reversi.
Furthermore, as former atheist Anthony Horvath has pointed out, many churches are not doing enough to counter the atheists message despite the Truth that they possess. Horvath, who has taught religion to middle school and high school students, also claims that some churches are actually producing atheists by not answering the questions of young people and explaining why they believe in the Bible.
Books like Richard Dawkins The God Delusion and Dan Browns The Da Vinci Code do not become best sellers in a society that understands what Christianity is all about, he said.
Christians need to see such atheist developments as a wake-up call and rise to the challenge posed by militant atheists by spreading out faith more widely and most importantly more deeply into this world to eclipse whatever doubt atheists are trying to cast.
The conviction that believers have in the presence of the Living God must be stronger than the false conviction of unbelievers who adamantly deny His existence.
The passion drawn from the love for God should burn more fiercely than the passion drawn from the hatred for religion.
Undoubtedly, the atheist campaign wont go far. But wouldnt it be regretful to lose even one person not because the atheist message is sound, but because it was conveyed with more fervor and conviction than the message preached by many churches today?
If atheists can market their claim to a world in search of answers, shouldnt believers be able to even better market the Truth?
Calls by people like Dawkins to draw out atheists from their closets will hopefully draw out believers from the shallow and ordinary life of faith toward a deeper and more passionate life of faith the true life of faith.