Dana Milbank laced his Oct. 2 column, “No suspension of disbelief,” with snide asides: “They don’t have a prayer”; “Good heavens”; “God willing.” Imagine the reaction if Jesus had been invoked in mocking Jewish or Muslim views, or if the Buddha had been invoked in lampooning Christian ones.

To take the conviction of atheists seriously, one has only to listen to the former Catholic student who has been disowned by her family after confessing to a lapse in belief, or to the former Muslim who worries that it might be dangerous even to admit that he can no longer follow Islamic precepts, or to the Jew grappling with the oxymoron of Jewish atheism, or to the African American who finds that he is now ostracized by his Baptist friends and neighbors for expressing doubts about God.

Probe further, and you will discover their shared deep moral and ethical convictions, including one that says that a country built upon the separation of church and state should have their backs, too. They are as entitled to their disbeliefs as others are to their beliefs, and it is unseemly to make fun of their views.

A. Charles Catania, Columbia