The First Amendment states plainly that Americans are to have freedom of, and from, religion. So I thought this week I'd look at the people that like the FROM side of that protection as I feel I have already covered the OF side in other articles.
It is often assumed that there is something harmful in atheism but I would summarize atheists as people that believe in themselves and believe in you. Here is a description of some of the different states of disbelief.
Deism is a way of belief that was not uncommon among Americans at the time of the revolutionary war. They generally believe that god is (Metaphorically) an artist and that the Earth is a "finished work" - the painting is still in God's house and he looks at it often but there is nothing further to be done with the project. They believed that we are made capable of learning about the universe we are given and that we understand God by understanding our world. They did not observe any organized religion of their time. Note: Deism is categorically not atheism but many people may percieve it as similar.
Agnosticism is a condition of doubt and Agnostics doubt things for which there is no evidence. They observe no organized religion and do not generally claim that anyone is wrong but instead suggest that since there is no direct evidence of any god that they (and you) do not actually KNOW, with compelling, irrefutable evidence that there is, or is not, a God.
Atheism has two flavors: Passive and active.
Passive atheists believe that there is no god but generally accept the beliefs of others without argument (this overlaps with the agnostic position).
Active atheists may suggest that you are "too old for an imaginary friend" and/or point out that asking them to Disprove anyone's theory of life is absurd
(like asking "where is the lack of evidence") and what you should be asking is where is the evidence ? This just reflects the scientific method wherein evidence and theories are first presented and THEN people can go about the process of verifying the facts and provability, or lack thereof, of the evidence.
As you can imagine there is some overlap between these positions but I hope this is of some help in understanding non-theists. It may also help to remember that we are all infidels to someone :)
Remember that people are people and they are all equally likely to be concerned for they and their families' well being, their neighbors well being and their freedom - just like you!
Agnostics and atheists are sometimes also described as skeptics.
Trying to push anything unwelcome on someone is generally offensive whether it be chocolate, religion, or atheism.