The people who promote the position that atheism is a belief system are no doubt confused between humanism and atheism or they lack fine control over their gun sights. Not all atheists are humanists, but probably the majority would majorly agree with the various humanist manifestos that are extant around the world. It is secular humanism that the theists are getting their wigs wound up over because that is a genuine world view that is anti-theist, organized, and humanists speak out. Humanists are thoughtful and kind and do leave room for freedom of conscience, as all thinking people must. They just want religion to go back to being a private matter, like masturbation, gluttony, nudity and other self-gratifications that are best not paraded in public.
The very idea that mere lowly humans can somehow get along and thrive without god and have a systematic and enlightened way of presenting their views is perceived by theists as a threat, precisely because it is a threat. The only dogma atheists hold is “we hate cant, humbug, hypocricy, pretense, and dogma”. This again spins the believers up because all they know is dogma, humbug, pretense and hypocrisy. Unlike humanists, atheists do not have a manifesto or a creed or until very recently any popular way to be recognized as atheists. There is no baptism or confirmation or any of the other ways religion dreamed up to psychologically close the cage door.
That little scarlet letter “A” emblazoned on atheist shirts and boldly printed on their web sites is a defiant, provocative, in your face announcement that we are here among you. Be afraid. The scarlet letter “A” (who says atheists don’t appreciate irony?) serves to bring more and more atheists out of the closet. The symbol gives them an identity with their soul mates and creates a sense of solidarity of purpose in overcoming the unjust hatred directed towards atheists. Not to mention the fact that the red letter “A” is guaranteed to produce vapors, palpitations and vertigo in the likes of Pat Robertson and James “smack-them-again” Dobson.
It is a curious fact of human psychology that we humans attribute the way others think to our own way of thinking. Therefore, a person sitting in a church listening to the pastor spout dogma as “truth” will have an almost insurmountable task to believe that other humans have absolutely no need of and are in fact violently opposed to dogma preached as truth.
The fact that Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens identify as atheists has reignited the fire of opposition by religious people. Assuming the fire had ever really gone out. Now, in addition we must contend with the merging of religion and politics in the United States because the conservatives have brilliantly succeeded in a mashup of the worst qualities humans possess. And here I am talking about emotionalism, ignorance, fear, racism, bigotry, anachronism, and the worship of patriarchy.