Several writers have recently pointed out that atheism tends to flourish in more prosperous regions (e.g. Western Europe), while religiosity, in various forms, tends to reign in poor and, frankly, economically oppressed places (e.g. Africa, South America). The explanation given is that belief in supernatural agency must be psychologically necessary to cope with the conditions in which the abject poor find themselves; while belief in god/s is unnecessary and therefore less common among those who are able to secure for themselves perceived goods.
While this explanation leaves out important considerations and exceptions, it is a promising hypothesis. It is not lost on many, especially women and minorities, that the major voices in the so-called New Atheist movement are white men, specifically well-educated, middle- to upper-class white men. This fact in no way suggests that their views are wrong, but it is notable when we consider that white men make up the social group in least psychological need of the coping benefits of religion.
To end this all too brief foray into what should really be a book-length project, here are a few points for further consideration. For the atheist hostile to all things religious, think not only about the extent to which religion has been used to keep people oppressed (Marx’s critique), but also about the ways in which it helps persons and groups cope in the face of various forms of tragedy and turmoil. Think also about the fact that, for so many people, the transformation of beliefs does not come about through rational argumentation or scientific evidence, but through existential relevance. If atheists truly hold that all or certain forms of religious belief are evil, they will do the hard, concrete work to overturn the institutional conditions which make belief necessary in the first place.
For the religious person, consider the ways in which many perspectives regarding God, sin, salvation, and the afterlife both intentionally and indirectly foster the subjugation of persons and hinder the creative and loving expression of freedom for which God made them. If your faith is strictly about “you and God” or entails the rejection or neglect of the less fortunate, the cultural Other, or the outcast, perhaps your deity is none other than your own comfort and fear.
And for all of us living in relative abundance, of whatever convictions, we should think about how our ways of life—which we take to be “normal” and thus disregard—depend upon those working in sweatshops or with absurdly meager incomes to make our clothes, cars, food, tools, furniture, and other random conveniences we take for granted. Unless your beliefs drive you to real, revolutionary love, they are, in the words of Henry Ford, pretty much bunk.