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Last year, Juan Mendez, an atheist lawmaker in the Arizona House of Representatives took his 'turn' to give the daily invocation by standing and asking his colleagues to look around and take a moment to acknowledge their shared humanity. His action in so doing undermined the notion that the statehouse is a place for Christian prayer but did not insist that ethical reflection be removed.
The late Ronald Dworkin, the legal and political philosopher and author of Religion Without God , was right----a broader conception of religion and values will not result in chaos.
In the coming election, you can bet that hostility toward nonbelief is still recommended for lawmakers who want to keep their jobs. But Americans are abandoning organized religion in droves. Data from the Public Religion Research Institute shows that while only 7 per cent of Americans were raised outside a religious tradition, nearly 19 per cent are religiously unaffiliated today. And according to the General Social Survey, the number of Americans who say they have "no religion" has more than doubled since 1990.
The author of The Happy Atheist, PZ Myers, an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Morris, is one of the proprietors of a blog called Pharyngula. He's saddened by the outsider's perception of atheists. He writes "What we atheists are saying is that we need to turn away from the powerless rationalizations of the holy books, no matter how poetic they might be, and recognize that their power and their appeal flows from their humanity, not from their religiosity."