The nation’s atheists went to Capitol Hill on Monday to launch an effort that they hope will someday give them the lobbying clout of the Christian conservative movement. …

Rogers, in a glittery gold blouse and knee-high boots with four-inch heels, acknowledges that she has a bit of a challenge to match the $390 million she says religious groups spend on lobbying each year. But she says the group maintained its atheistic presence at both political conventions, will have chapters in all 50 states by the end of the year, and, with its first congressional briefing Monday, is stepping up its lobbying.

In theory, nonbelievers could be a potent political force. As the secularists pointed out, about a fifth of Americans don’t state a religious identity when asked, and a majority of Americans think politicians should keep their faith out of their public-policy decisions. …

But in practice, atheists aren’t about to become a force capable of breaching the “fence of piety” that makes religious expression a virtue for American politicians. This is because the very notion of uniting nonbelievers behind a common cause is pretty much an oxymoron. Those who identify themselves as atheists and agnostics tend not to be the type to join affinity groups. That’s why there isn’t an International Brotherhood of Individualists.