From the good boys over at the Economist:
What accounts for the failure of atheists to organise and wield influence? One problem is that they are hardly a cohesive group. Another issue is simply branding. ‘Atheist’ has an ugly ring in American ears and it merely defines what people are not. ‘Godless’ is worse, its derogatory attachment to ‘communist’ may never be broken. ‘Humanist’ sounds too hippyish. A few have taken to calling themselves ‘Brights’ for no good reason and to widespread mirth. And ‘secular’ isn’t quite the word either; one can be a Christian secularist.
But another failing of the irreligious movement has been its tendency, frequently, to pick the wrong fights. Keeping the Ten Commandments out of an Alabama courthouse is one thing. But attacking a Christmas nativity scene on public property does more harm than good. Such secular crusades allow Christians-after all, the overwhelming majority of the country-to feel under attack, and even to declare that they are on the defensive in a ‘War on Christmas’. When a liberal federal court in California struck the words ‘under God’ from the pledge of allegiance, religious conservatives rallied. Atheists might be tactically wise to accept the overwhelming majority’s comfort with such ‘ceremonial deism’.