I would like to help correct a few puzzling misconceptions you have about atheists (from your column).
"Though religion remains important in American life, antireligious passion is surging here, too.Examples abound: In two recent best sellers , Sam Harris heaps scorn on religious believers, whose faith he derides as 'a few products of ancient ignorance and derangement.'"Will your next column be on how Ann Coulter's best sellers demonstrate American hatred of atheism? More Americans go to church every week than any other Western country; to say that there is an antireligious passion surging in America based on some book sales is just silly IMHO especially when there are many many more books being sold that target religious buyers.
"That is because without God, the difference between good and evil becomes purely subjective."
That actually is not true. I am an atheist and I believe society's moral and ethical code comes from thousands of years of societal evolution. Just because you don't think a big father-figure in the sky will punish you if you break a rule doesn't mean that good and evil are entirely subjective (and how "moral" is a person who only behaves because they fear punishment?). The construction of social norms takes hundreds of years and the actions of millions of people - one person's opinion is almost inconsequential, forcing him or her to abide by the rules of the community.
"The atheist alternative is a world in which right and wrong are ultimately matters of opinion, and in which we are finally accountable to no one but ourselves."Since society's rules come from the community, rule-breakers are accountable to the general community (laws, prison, etc.). And as I stated above, right and wrong are not matters of opinion, but rules that have evolved and been passed down over the generations.
Furthermore it is not a binary either/or set of options - either religion is in public life, or atheists run everything. It is entirely possible to have religion play a very big role in people's lives in the home, and have public life and the public moral and ethical code be informed by the religious beliefs of individuals, but not a platform for expression or proselytizing of those religious beliefs. Judeo-Christian norms (whatever that means... Judeo-Christian tradition is far from monolithic) can be predominant without having a cross in every courtroom.
If you read this far, thank you for your time.
BTW, finals end tomorrow, yay.