The trap some atheists fall into is their belief that, because all religions are equally nonsensical, they are equally harmless. Here is Christopher Hitchens lamenting the "totalitarianism" of Christmas:
Isn't Christmas a moral and aesthetic nightmare whether or not the days are prosperous? ....The core objection, which I restate every December at about this time, is that for almost a whole month, the United States—a country constitutionally based on a separation between church and state—turns itself into the cultural and commercial equivalent of a one-party state.
As in such dismal banana republics, the dreary, sinister thing is that the official propaganda is inescapable. You go to a train station or an airport, and the image and the music of the Dear Leader are everywhere. You go to a more private place, such as a doctor's office or a store or a restaurant, and the identical tinny, maddening, repetitive ululations are to be heard.
In a staggering and calculated piece of moral equivalence, Jesus is compared to Kim Jong Il, and carols are compared to ululations, the repulsive noises made - often for propaganda reasons - by passive, dead-eyed Muslim women. Try living in a country suffused, as Hugh calls it, with Islam. And, like Communism, Islam is not just for Christmas - it's for life. Hitchens' bah-humbuggery is grossly misplaced.
Not quite as annoying, but every bit as silly, Douglas Murray writes in The Spectator that "studying Islam has made [him] an atheist":
Gradually, scepticism of the claims made by one religion was joined by scepticism of all such claims. Incredulity that anybody thought an archangel dictated a book to Mohammed produced a strange contradiction. I found myself still clinging to belief in Christianity. I was trying to believe — though rarely arguing — ‘Well, your guy didn’t hear voices: but I know a man who did.’ This last, shortest and sharpest, phase pulled down the whole thing. In the end Mohammed made me an atheist.
Though it was a supplementary realisation, the problems that these texts have caused cannot be avoided either. Where else does your real bona-fide bigot find his metier? Anyone can repress a woman, but you need ‘dictated’ scriptures to feel you’re really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you’ve got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious ‘Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve’-style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different to you.
The difference is that Muslims' disapproval of those who are "different to you" is not confined to lame jokes about "Adam and Steve". They will kill you. Islam is not a religion like any other. It is a truly totalitarian way of life. It draws no distinction between the sacred and the secular - as Christianity must, according to Jesus himself - or between public and private.
Douglas Murray is disappointing. Like Hitchens, he is quite good on the subject of free speech, but like Hitchens, he does not make the connection between that freedom and the Judeo-Christian foundations of the Western civilisation that makes it possible. As with Hitchens, his atheism will not help.