In earlier eras, atheists were on the fringes of society, mistrusted by the mainstream. Those few who dared to publicly push their beliefs on society, like Madalyn Murray O'Hair, were widely regarded as malevolent kooks...
"How can this be happening?," you might wonder. "Hasn't America always been a Christian nation?"
No question about it. America was founded by Christians. Its very purpose for being was the furtherance of biblical Christianity, according to the Pilgrims and succeeding generations. The nation's school system was created for the express purpose of propagating the Christian faith. Almost all of the Founding Fathers who drafted and signed the Constitution were Christian believers. Even U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Josiah Brewer, in the high court's 1892 "Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States" decision, proclaimed what was then considered obvious to just about everyone: "This is a Christian nation."
Today, however, many Americans are infatuated with outright, full-bore atheism. In fact, Dawkins, the Oxford scientist who wrote "The God Delusion," is even selling young people "Scarlet Letter" tee-shirts with a giant "A" – for "atheist" – on his website (and bumper stickers too). Somehow, atheism – just like homosexuality, which used to be considered shameful and something to hide – is now becoming hip, sophisticated, enlightened, even a badge of honor.
Via Ed Brayton.