Recently, Marco Rubio responded to an atheist. It was a good off-the-cuff answer, especially for somebody who's not a philosopher:
But here's how I'd respond to the atheist. Let's begin with his question:
You say you want to stand up for religious freedom. My question is for atheist voters who are looking somebody who will uphold their rights as Americans: how do you plan on upholding our rights?
There are different ways of fielding that question, but here's one way: either your rights come from God or government. That's what it boils down to.
God-given rights are above government. God-given rights are normally inalienable, although, in some cases, it's possible to do something that forfeits your ordinary immunity to harm.
By contrast, if your rights derive from gov't, then whatever gov't gives it can rescind. What rights you have at any particular time and place depends on what rights the ruling class chooses to grant. Your rights exist at the indulgence of the state. And the state is capricious.
Since atheism has no absolute standard, some groups have more rights than others, and it rotates. Take identity politics. The establishment adopts a social mascot. After a while it gets bored with its toy and abandons that for a new social mascot.
For instance, anti-Semitism used to be chic. That was popular among the educated classes. Then, after the Holocaust, the establishment was pro-Israel. But later the establishment shifted from pro-Israel to pro-Palestinian. So it's come full circle. We're right back to anti-Semitism.
In addition, the establishment has a pecking order. It supports black rights and Latino rights unless that conflicts with gay rights. Asians take a backseat to blacks and Latinos in college admissions. It supports blacks so long as they are dutifully liberal. It supports women so long as they are dutifully liberal.
There's now a civil war between feminists and transsexuals. Feminism is the old guard. But feminism is passé. Feminism is based on gender essentialism whereas transgenderism is based on gender conventionalism. Gender is a social construct. Gender is not about plumbing or chromosomes but how you self-identify. Transgenderism is the new fad. Feminists are losing their hegemony. The ruling class has found a new social mascot to pamper.
It's like a king with royal wives and mistresses. His favorite one year may be demoted the next year.
In the pecking order, the ruling class has decided that Muslims have greater rights than anyone else. Muslim rights not only trump Christian rights, but Jewish rights, gay rights, women's rights, &c.
A secular ruling class won't protect atheists from Muslims. It's demonstrated that repeatedly in Europe and the UK. Ironically, atheists can't trust their fellow atheists to defend their life and well being from Muslim religionists.
The primary opposition to sharia and jihad is coming from conservative Christians (and Jews). It's the Christians who are standing between atheists and Muslim oppressors. Likewise, only Christians will protect the right of atheists not to be aborted or euthanized.
If atheists want to be safe, they should vote for Christian candidates.