Many atheists, myself included, have been overly optimistic that a rational argument will be sufficient to change minds. I now think the best we can do is make good points in a reasonable and pleasant manner.
A fanatical fundamentalist minority is a dangerous thing in any culture, and even the strongest democracy can become vulnerable when buffeted by economic distress and external shocks, such as major terrorist attacks.
The black theologian James H. Cone ripped me open and laid me bare, not with a knife but with his book, "The Cross and the Lynching Tree." And what he exposed was my own personal story of faith connecting -- or failing to connect -- to the issue of race.
You seem bewildered by the amount of hate mail you received from atheists, agnostics and Humanists as a result of your comments. Let me be clear here: I don't think anyone should threaten you for your opinions, no matter how hateful they are -- and they are hateful.
Alexander Hamilton warned about the dangers of "unreasonable religion." Conservatives are attempting to recreate a world that never existed. They insist that the United States is a Christian nation with no room for secular thought or other religions.
Believe it or not, this is a more complicated question than one might imagine. The United States has always been home to a multitude of faith traditions and, indeed, was imagined from the beginning to be a religious haven.
As a Christian who does his best to take reason as seriously as I take faith, I find it impossible to understand America as a "Christian nation" -- and I believe that there are vibrant possibilities in the fact that it is not.
This year's holiday season has seen a notable influx in secular and atheist billboards and bus banners sarcastically challenging the veracity of the Christmas story. One in New Jersey reads: "You KNOW it's a myth. This season, celebrate reason."
The Christian Right has claimed from its inception that others -- liberals, secularists and humanists -- were eroding the values of the nation that they sought to affirm and protect. In that claim we find the seeds of the current American crisis.
Rather than being engaged in a divisive cultural war in the hopes of turning back time, Young Christians are engaged in pressing social concerns that benefit the common good -- not just the Christian good.
What ails me to the bone and marrow is that most of my fellow citizens would wear a Jesus cross proudly beneath their flag lapel pin. They boisterously call for our return to being a "Christian nation."