In a recent post regarding the Cherry Creek Public Schools lawsuit where the FFRF sued over a program which asked the children of the public school to "spend one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution” Hemant Mehta asked "Should atheists fight these seemingly “minor” battles? Do they have a meaningful impact?"
My response to this question is a resounding yes because every infringement on our rights, however tiny or seemingly insignificant, is an infringement just the same and is just as unacceptable as the most overt attempt at blurring the separation of church and state. This particular story hit close to home with me because religious pressures and interventions in public schools is the very occurrence which inspired me to become more vocal about my atheism and my rights as an atheist in the first place.
I have never been shy about my atheism. When asked, I have always told people that I was either an atheist or, during some parts of my life, I would say I had Buddhist philosophies but didn't feel like Buddhism was my religion because I didn't participate in it in a religious way. Whether long winded or succinct, the answer was always pretty much the same - I'm an atheist.
The catalyst for my becoming more vocal in my atheism was my son getting old enough to go to school. I started researching schools and curriculum and was astonished at what I found. A lot of schools even in my beloved and presumably progressive Washington state were ducking huge chunks of biology (specifically the theory of evolution) in order to appease religious groups. Looking into the matter further I understood why they did it - religious groups had a keen way of rallying public support behind their bullheaded stupidity in a way which turned a religiously based complaint into a public outcry.
I don't want my son to grow up learning apologetic history or inaccurate and incomplete science. I want my son to have more opportunities than I had and I want him to be a part of the future generations of this country that help defeat the "stupid American" stereotype. When I looked into the roadblocks that existed between my son and a proper basic education to get him ready for college, I perceived religious censorship of knowledge as one of the major hurdles my son would have to overcome and I decided that was entirely unacceptable.
So I stopped being quiet and silently rolling my eyes and started speaking up when religious groups try to stifle me and my son's opportunities and rights in favor of their own personal beliefs. I don't know if I'll ever stop speaking up now - it may not be much in regard to society at large, but I feel that speaking up when you feel that something is wrong is the least we can do for ourselves and one another.