Even in late 18th century, many self respecting people who valued knowledge would not be caught dead admitting belief in a very particular form of ghost worship. Anything short of deism/atheism was seen just as absurd as ghost worship of conquered Native Americans or fanciful epic fiction emerging from India. After Darwin, there was no excuse left for the elites of the world (who could read that is). The battle against superstition has long been decisively won on an intellectual level among people who matter so the recent growth of "New Atheism" in America warrants a few words.
Mutilation of a defeated enemy's corpse does not make the victor appear in a better light. It hints at victor's unhealthy resentment at the corpse and all the mistreatment that was done by the corpse when alive (mistreatment only made possible by it having been in a position of strength). Sometimes this can be explained away by the cathartic therapeutic value that overdoing a victory brings. That is especially true if the corpse was a die hard hold out to the end (examples are mass executions of medieval monks in Revolutionary France, Republican Spain, and early Soviet Union). However, we've seen a constant pattern of the ghost worshiping structures relaxing their grip in the Western world for decades. Clergy's power is fading even where their less educated power bases reside (parts of southern Europe and United States). They're declining and will continue to do so since support of elites is long lost.
So why are atheist books now flying off the shelves? Why are people gleefully sharpening their knives against ghosts long after the question has been settled by men such as the ones who conceptualized a structure for United States?
The answer seems obvious in terms of history (more angry atheists in Italy and Alabama since they have to live with the miserable theist idiots) but not in terms of strategy. Using very advanced consistent systematic arguments against grown men who belief in ghosts is like a superpower making a big deal about a threat from small country and attacking it with all its might. Ironically the smartest thing George Bush said was "I'm not going to shoot a two million dollar missile at a ten dollar empty tent and hit a camel in the butt!"
Indeed. We don't spend valuable life energies explaining that Harry Potter or scientology's Xenu are not real so why spend it on equally absurd monotheistic ghosts?
One quote by Ghandi that was used throughout the Ron Paul campaign clarifies strategic aspect of it:
"first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you win".
Why does it go in that order? If the media talking heads/fellow candidates systematically attacked Ron Paul, it'd mean he gained enough power to be honored with mass attack, that he was considered a threat or an equal. To go from ignoring and ridiculing (those unfortunate enough to believe blatant lies) to sharp philosophical attacks would be to honor, empower, and treat the clergy as equals if not superiors that deserve such sophisticated attack. They don't. Ridicule, exclusion, and gentle pats on the head while calmly explaining that it's time to grow up are more proper. It works to suppress third parties and unpopular kids in grade school and it'll work on them.