It's quite obvious that Religion is used to win the hearts of the down trodden. they can look to a better after life. Not eveyone, even the downtrodden agree.
Aetheism gets a bad rap because god was always used as a symbol in forming this country. If something went well, god was responsible. If it went badly, then we look to see who to blame it on. Killing 'savages' was deemed god's will as an exception to one of the commandments. (Manifest Destiny, remember that was the way of skirting the horrors of war.) People do interpret in their favor, especially if they were brought up in a strict religious background.
Some people believe the bible to be an accurate history book in that the world only began once god became known. Others see the history of the world as something much older than than the religious beliefs. They actually include other parts of the world besides the middle east not to mention the whole solar system.
Ethical Culture is the way to go and we will probably never have a President of VP that can see that belief. It just doesn't get votes.