As Chesterton so carefully hinted in “Orthodoxy”, Christ during the passion appears, for a moment, to approach atheism. From this, atheism appears a moral human response to deep suffering, fear, and isolation. This insight should alter how we think about those exhibiting signs of atheism, and their place in a society.
Specifically, we should care for atheists like we do for the other suffering; with compassion, and without the burden of avoidable responsibilities. Most would be loath to burden a recovering combat casualty with duties on the front line. It is understood that they are very likely suffering greatly, and that their suffering will unacceptably interfere with the effective execution of their duties. The wounded are a liability on the battlefield, and we treat them with compassion (where possible) by removing them to a safe distance from the conflict. So too, we should look on the atheist with the eyes of compassion, and understand that their deep suffering should excuse them from unnecessary participation major responsibilities such as marriage, law enforcement, and public office.
There is a sense, today, that being involved in religion renders you unfit for politics, teaching, and science. But it seems that this is exactly and precisely wrong.