When Will Atheists Achieve Equality?

Equality was a core principle of the Civil Rights movement, a movement with which most Americans would comfortably express agreement or even admiration. America's oldest Civil Rights organization has accepted atheism as a Civil Rights issue, however, many Americans remain unwilling to do so. Equality remains an unfortunately elusive goal for atheists in America.

Stellar1 at de-conversion (update: link no longer active) recently asked, "What if I behaved toward Christians like they behave towards me?" This is certainly an intriguing question in this context. Some of Stellar1's points:

However, I have to say that I am so very tired of having other people’s religious beliefs shoved in my face. I do not behave in that manner about my agnostic view and think it arrogant for Christians to think I care about their belief system.

For example, I wonder what Christians would think if Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris got on television on a continual basis to make emotional pleas for money to finance the spread of their atheism?

As for those Christians who gather outside concerts to pass out tracts to get me saved, I wonder what they would think if I stood outside their churches and pass out literature on atheism to those leaving the building?

Never mind that it would not occur to most atheists to do these things. The question is how Christians would respond if we did them. It is a question for which I suspect you already have an answer in mind. But it also signals that we have not yet achieved equality in the eyes of many.

The fact that Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) was not immediately forced out of office for expressing anti-atheist bigotry from the floor of the Illinois State Legislature also indicates that we atheists have not yet achieved equality with our Christian neighbors. Just imagine what would have happened if Rep. Davis had said that it was dangerous for children to know that Christianity existed! This should be a real eye-opener for all non-theistic Americans.

The question in my mind now is whether it is possible for atheists to achieve equality as long as Christianity persists. I certainly hope so, but I am troubled by barriers to accepting atheists inherent in Christian dogma. If Christians are unable to acknowledge the worth of atheists, can we ever achieve true equality?