It challenges their power. Religion empowers religious leaders to hold power over their congregations. This relationship allows these leaders to create a society that most benefits religions (through laws, money supply, and war). When you question the existence of God, you threaten this power.
This power takes many forms, but it is mostly about money. Just because religious leaders say they don't care about money please don't believe that. If that were true... then why is the Catholic Church the second largest land owner in the WORLD?!?! Why do the Masons control the world banking system?(the Masons require a belief in God). Why are the richest oil companies in the world owned by "conservative" Muslims? I try to avoid Jewish stereotypes, but they have long been associated banking. Why do Mormons pay 10% of their gross income as tithing (gross is not the "Take-Home-Pay", it is the amount prior to all of the deductions in your paycheck for FICA, etc.)
As a British person atheist are a significantly large growing community, we are at heart though a cynical people I think with most religious british Christians visiting a church for a wedding, funeral etc only. I did visit new mexico in January and while religion seems more prominent did not investigate if people actively visit churches on regular basis ?
In the UK though to be atheist is cetainly not to be looked down on people actively religious seem novel and quaint.
Maybe because people who see their god as the entire basis for morality can't imagine how we're not heartless, amoral beasts.
Some relevant satire, delivered absolutely deadpan by Edward Current: "What if God disappeared?"
indeed. seems to be a clik'd light switch from mind'control put in place by Koch bros. and the like imho
imho again. it's the 'freedom' of thought thing that scares the assholes the most. . . irony being the land of the free n all. peace
This is really a very good question. I've noticed, for some reason religious people have more of an aversion to Atheists than any other "religious" (Yes, I know calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color) group. I've had conversations with very devout Christians who think Hindus, Jews, Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, you name it are all going to Hell because they don't believe a certain version of Mythology. But there is always a special place in Hell reserved for Atheists. When asked, these Christians will say "of course there are no multi-armed Hindu deities floating around or that the Pope is really Satan". When really pushed they will admit that believing in something even something they don't believe in is much better than an Atheist who believes in nothing.
The logic seems to be you need to believe in something to comfort you when things get tough and give you a reason to behave well in an orderly society. I think the concept that their deities are just imaginary is very threatening to their sense of worth and self. It's much easier to argue that my imaginary friend is better than yours but exposing them to the fact that the emperor really has no cloths blows their minds.
Here's a joke:
What did the brown hamster say to the white hamster?
You're not from around here, are you?
Atheist gets the negative connotation because it is the diametric opposite of the belief systems of the majority. We ain't from around here. Atheists, quite plainly, eschew the notion that some things just cannot be explained without magic - which means we have to either think harder, or worse still, say "I don't know". Something the egos of most cannot even begin to do.