I don't know what's more offensive - instances where people use the term 'atheist' as an insult or instances where people react to the term 'atheist' as an insult. Recently I read an article about a bit of Indiana state legislature that's achieved both of those instances in one fell swoop.
You may have heard about this already, but there's a bit of a to-do in Indiana regarding the standards of child-care facilities in religious institutions. The issue is that there seems to be no standards whatsoever which is a contrast from every other non-religious child care facility in the state. What's being asked of these groups is not a lot - employees have to be over 17 and have a High School diploma or equivalent, there has to be a limit to the amount of children at the facility (this is often a ratio of kids:adults as long as the space used for child care permits and not just a flat number), and they have to report injuries to the state. I don't see how any of that is too much to ask. Honestly, I can't see how anyone would willingly leave their kids in a place which DOESN'T have to adhere to these rules, Jesus praising or otherwise.
The thing that really stuck me about the whole story was the fact that the Indiana Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis), who is the chair of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee, backed off this legislation after 'Summers said she had become the target of a smear campaign by opponents of the bill who rallied even her own pastors against her and accused her of being an atheist.' She continues to say that it's a controversial issue which should be dealt with at a later session.
What a horrible precedent to establish. Don't like what a politician is doing? 'Accuse' him or her of being an atheist! That'll make 'em back down right quick. I mean, who in their right mind wants to be thought of as one of THOSE people? And hell, if they don;t back down it's basically an endorsement of atheism which is the equivalent of political suicide! I'm not surprised that this tactic was used, I'm saddened that it seems to have worked.