The first time I told this story to a class, I was deeply gratified when one student confided that his religious doubts arose from the struggles of a severely disabled sibling, and that he had never been able to discuss the subject candidly with his fundamentalist parents. One of the most positive things any atheist can do is provide a willing ear for a doubter — even if the doubter remains a religious believer.
Ms. Jacoby tells us that atheism really shows its strength "in the face of suffering."  When an atheist sees suffering, he never has to trouble himself to ask why.  
It is primarily in the face of suffering, whether the tragedy is individual or collective, that I am forcefully reminded of what atheism has to offer. When I try to help a loved one losing his mind to Alzheimer’s, when I see homeless people shivering in the wake of a deadly storm, when the news media bring me almost obscenely close to the raw grief of bereft parents, I do not have to ask, as all people of faith must, why an all-powerful, all-good God allows such things to happen.
Ms. Jacoby informs us that we misunderstand if we think that believing in nothing is negative.  She implies that religion cannot give us the freedom that comes from believing in nothing. After all, someone who believes in nothing doesn't have to figure out "why" because there is no such thing as "why."  Things just happen for no reason at all.  What can be more liberating than that?
It is a positive blessing, not a negation of belief, to be free of what is known as the theodicy problem. Human “free will” is Western monotheism’s answer to the question of why God does not use his power to prevent the slaughter of innocents, and many people throughout history (some murdered as heretics) have not been able to let God off the hook in that fashion.
The atheist is free to concentrate on the fate of this world — whether that means visiting a friend in a hospital or advocating for tougher gun control laws — without trying to square things with an unseen overlord in the next.
I find it interesting that she uses the word "blessing."  Just who or what is giving that "blessing"?

The problem with her reasoning is this.  It is because of suffering that we ask questions, and it is because we ask question that we find the answers.  Atheists have no answers because they have no questions.  All they do is attack those who do have questions and even worse, actually find answers.

A billboard in Times Square that was
paid for by Atheists,org
Ms. Jacoby then tries to assure us that atheists have no desire to deny believers "the comfort of their faith."  Really?  Does the name Richard Dawkins mean anything, or how about (the late) Christopher Hitchens?  Or what about, who have held an annual convention for the last 50 years, and have recently "filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky a lawsuit demanding that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stop giving preferential treatment to churches and religious organizations via the process of receiving non-profit tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) procedures and definitions."

This lawsuit may lead you to think that the atheists are against religion in general, but all of their attacks are specifically against Christianity, as can be seen in the billboard in Times Square.  They didn't attack Hanukkah or even Kwanzaa.   I have never once heard an atheist complain about Ramadan.  They say they don't believe in God, but it seems the only God with whom they really have a problem is the Christian God.  As GK  Chesterton said:  "They cannot be Christians and they cannot leave off being Anti-Christians. Their whole atmosphere is the atmosphere of a reaction: sulks, perversity, petty criticism. They still live in the shadow of the faith and have lost the light of the faith."

Below is another billboard put up by this same atheist group:

Sorry, Susan, but I'm not buying your line that atheists don't want to change anyone.  To quote again the great GK Chesterton: “Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.”

Now Ms. Jacoby makes a completely contradictory statement.   
We do want our fellow citizens to respect our deeply held conviction that the absence of an afterlife lends a greater, not a lesser, moral importance to our actions on earth.
How does believing that nothing has meaning and we are all headed for eternal oblivion lend any kind of importance to anything?  If we are all just an accident of nature and our lives have no meaning, then nothing that we do has any meaning.  Ms. Jacoby's statement is one of the most nonsensical statements I have ever read.

Now Ms. Jacoby gets into the true greatness of atheism and the comfort we can all find in it.
Today’s atheists would do well to emulate some of the great 19th-century American freethinkers, who insisted that reason and emotion were not opposed but complementary.
Robert Green Ingersoll, who died in 1899 and was one of the most famous orators of his generation, personified this combination of passion and rationality. Called “The Great Agnostic,” Ingersoll insisted that there was no difference between atheism and agnosticism because it was impossible for anyone to “know” whether God existed or not. He used his secular pulpit to advocate for social causes like justice for African-Americans, women’s rights, prison reform and the elimination of cruelty to animals.
He also frequently delivered secular eulogies at funerals and offered consolation that he clearly considered an important part of his mission. In 1882, at the graveside of a friend’s child, he declared: “They who stand with breaking hearts around this little grave, need have no fear. The larger and the nobler faith in all that is, and is to be, tells us that death, even at its worst, is only perfect rest ... The dead do not suffer.”
There you have it.  Atheists, who claim to believe in nothing, tell us that they do believe in something after all: "death, even at its worst, is only perfect rest...the dead do not suffer."   Yes, I guess total oblivion is very restful.  With thinking like this, it would seem the greatest favor you can ever do for anyone is to kill them.  Maybe mass murderers like Charles Manson or Ted Bundy, or dictators such as Adolph Hitler, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot or Joseph Stalin, who killed tens of millions, should actually be considered humanitarians.  After all, they were only helping people to find "perfect rest."

The horror of Newtown, Connecticut has led the whole country to search for a reason for such blatant evil.   C.S. Lewis gives a profound glimpse into the answer:
“The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it. Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are the less their victim suspects their existence; they are masked evil. Pain is unmasked, unmistakable evil; every man knows that something is wrong when he is being hurt.”
Also from C.S. Lewis:
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
If we are to follow the atheist line of reasoning, we should just accept everything that happens and never question, because questioning makes us uncomfortable.  I cannot disagree more.  We do not honor the victims of evil by comforting ourselves with the knowledge, "Well, they're not suffering anymore."   That is the lazy way out.  We need to ask why the innocent die.

The last thing our Enemy wants us to do is to question evil.  The Evil One doesn't want anyone to ask questions because he doesn't want anyone to find answers.  We need to be disturbed by the shootings in Newtown.  That is the very least that we owe to these victims.  It is not about how we can comfort ourselves.  It is about searching for answers as to why this happened.

And I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing that guns are to blame.  We have had guns in our society since it was founded almost 250 years ago.  But it is only in the last few decades that we have seen such horrendous evil as we witnessed in Newtown, Connecticut or Aurora, Colorado.  

John Paul II said, "A nation that kills its own children has no future."  We have just been informed that Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation, received $542 million in taxpayer money in 2012.  They also killed 334,000 babies in 2011.  Newtown, Connecticut was a wake up call to our nation.  If we can't see the connection between killing our children in the womb and killing them in the classroom, then we truly are doomed and no one and nothing can save us.