"My only wish is ... to transform friends of God into friends of man, believers into thinkers, devotees of prayer into devotees of work, candidates for the hereafter into students of the world, Christians, who by their own admission, are 'half animal, half angel' into persons, into whole persons." - Ludwig Feuerbach
Freethinkers are often asked, "Why do you spend so much time arguing about religion when you don't believe in it?". Here are two answers:
1. Many freethinkers believe that some religions are inherently harmful to humanity, and that just as believers have a right to express their views on religion, freethinkers have a right, and sometimes even a moral responsibility, to let their views be heard. Here are some examples of how religion is harmful: Religion often encourages bigotry, hatred and intolerance; it often prevents rational discussion of important issues such as abortion and euthanasia; it has inspired many wars and continues to make peace very difficult to achieve in such places as Northern Ireland and the Middle East; it often inspires religious zealots to commit acts of terrorism; it often tends to destroy its believers' sense of personal responsibility; and it is often mentally and emotionally unhealthy. Of course, religion is not all bad, but we still have an obligation to speak out against the aspects of religion that are harmful.
"Religion prevents our children from having a rational education; religion prevents us from removing the fundamental causes of war; religion prevents us from teaching the ethic of scientific cooperation in place of the old fierce doctrines of sin and punishment. It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion." - Bertrand Russell
2. Sometimes freethinkers are compelled to speak out in order to protect themselves from aggressive religionists. Here in the USA, there is a small but politically powerful group of religiously bigoted theists who are trying to use the power of the government to force nontheists and theists of different religions to follow the dictates of their superstition. Not only do they want to secure special rights for themselves, but they want to make sure that religious minorities and other groups, such as homosexuals, don't get the legal protection that everyone in this country is entitled to have. As a blatant example of this religious bigotry, consider the following quote from a US president:
"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." - George Bush, Sr.
Freethinkers have a responsibility to speak out against these bigots.