Gathered around the plastic red-and-white tablecloths in the back room of a San Francisco hofbrau, 30 of the Bay Area's "out" atheists were recasting themselves as the protagonists of America's newest civil rights struggle.
As they described the strain of being openly atheistic in an increasingly religious culture, many wished their godless crusade would emulate one social movement in particular -- the fight for gay rights.
"You can be elected as an openly gay politician in this country, but you can't be elected as an openly atheistic one," said Lori Lipman Brown, who was hired last fall to be the Washington, D.C., lobbyist for an organization devoted to atheist causes, the Secular Coalition for America. She's believed to be the first paid lobbyist for the unbelievers in the nation's capital, the front lines of the culture wars.
Civil rights struggle? What a bunch of whiners. In what way are your rights abridged at all in this freaking society? Hmm? Oh, that's right, in no way whatsoever.
Oh, you don't like having to see your fellow Americans be religious? That hurts your poor widdle atheist sensitivities? Deal with it! We have a right to expression of religious sentiments just as much as you have the right to express none at all.