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You don't increase Coke sales by convincing die-hard Pepsi drinkers to change, you do it by attacking the less committed groups and moving them to your position. Since I've already brought up gay marriage, we have seen a sea change in acceptance in just the past 10 years. It has been most notable among the young, who aren't burdened with the peer pressure their parents are (through church, society, history.) As those people grow through the system they will replace the older, committed, who die off, and eventually there will be hardly any stigma at all.

(That, obviously, is what the Right wingers are terrified of, which is why they seek to codify the prohibition in State Constitutions, etc., to make sure that the proscription outlives even them.)

Yep. I basically "came out" as an atheist after September 11, when it became undeniable that religious folk were cramping my style. Before, when people would ask me about religion I'd usually say "I'm not religious" or "agnostic" or some such just because I didn't want to get into it. A true answer, but not complete (I see no contradiction in being an agnostic atheist). I think a number of people have had a similar experience after Sept. 11.

In 2001 less than one percent of Americans self-identified as an atheist. Around that time is when the "New Atheism" started and there has been a lot of discussion about atheism. Now that number is more like five percent. Still tiny percentage-wise, but a huge increase. And the number of non-religious people is exploding. I bet a lot of those are really atheists who just haven't made the plunge. It is important to criticize religion out loud. A lot of people are thinking it, they just aren't saying it.
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