“Atheism is too strenuous an intellectual and spiritual test to become popular. Atheism is achieved, while current religion of whatever sort is received. It is more restful to take than to achieve.”
–A. Wakefield Slaten (1880-1944), quoted in The Heretic’s Handbook of Quotations
* * *
This quotation reveals progress of a sort. Slaten lived a century ago when childhood religious indoctrination was nearly universal. Today it isn’t. Most children are still subjected to that form of child abuse, but a significant minority aren’t, even in the United States, the most religious and most barbaric of the western industrialized nations. Most contemporary atheists, at least in the U.S., were indoctrinated as children, but I know a number of second-generation atheists, something that would have been inconceivable in Slaten’s time.