The Necessity of Secularism, pg 75

I”n any event, it’s obvious that the belief that atheists are immoral is not based on relevant factual information. It is noteworthy that this prejudice took root long before open expression of disbelief in God was a common phenomenon. Until the nineteenth century, it was exceedingly rare for atheists to be open about their disbelief – with good reason, as a public declaration of atheism was sure to end in social death if not actual death. In fact, it’s only been fairly recently that large numbers of people have voluntarily identified as atheists, agnostics, humanists, or just plan “not religious.” So it’s not as though people studied and compared the behavior of believers and nonbelievers and drew the conclusion that nonbelievers are a bad group of people. To the contrary, many believers have simply assumed that the conduct of atheists must be worse than the conduct of theists because in their minds God is closely, if vaguely, associated with morality.”