The Village Atheists’ Fight for Religious LibertyDid you know there are still multiple states where atheists are not allowed to hold public office? There are even states where an atheist is technically not allowed to testify in court? Throughout our nation’s history we have treated those who don’t believe in God harshly, punishing and even executing them.
Although states no longer enforce laws against atheists holding office, or testifying in court, they are still buried in state law and serve as reminders that unbelievers have had a long fight for religious liberty. As Christians we must constantly remind one another, and the watching world, that religious liberty is only as strong as it is universally applied.
If we selectively apply freedom to specific religious groups, say to Baptists, then it isn’t religious liberty at all, it’s a state mandated religion. If religious liberty is to mean anything it must be applied to everyone, even those who don’t profess religious belief. Freedom to believe must also mean freedom to not believe.
I recently wrote a book review ofLeigh Eric Schmidtâ€™s recent work,Â Village Atheists: How Americaâ€™s Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly NationÂ for the The Gospel Coalition. Here’s an excerpt:
If you care about religious liberty, this is a story you should familiarize yourself with.Â Village AtheistsÂ is really a religious liberty narrative told from the perspective of grassroots atheists. Itâ€™s a survey of â€œthat charged terrain that atheists and unbelievers have long occupied between tolerance and intolerance, civility and incivility, equal and unequal citizenship in American culture.â€ Itâ€™s a profile of atheists in our country who fought for religious liberty on behalf of the irreligious.
You can read the book review in its entirety here.