Well, what's important is that you've found a way to feel superior to Christians and atheists alike.
Honestly, the ego-stroking is laughable, as is the question itself. The freedom to become atheists? Mor. On. You always had the 'freedom' to become an atheist. It seems the reality of the situation is that it has become more socially acceptable to be an atheist, so more people are 'deciding' to become atheistic.
That shows a lack of conviction either way. If you were a Christian before, why do you now decide that you value freedom of thought just because it's EASIER to be an atheist now? So, were you a Christian or were other people Christian just because it was EASIER then too? It seems your actual nature belies the question at hand...
Lack of conviction. You don't need a reason and you have faith, until other people aren't getting shunned for their own lack of faith. When atheism (no belief in any god) falls way to misotheism (belief in God, but believe God doesn't deserve worship) will you join the misotheism bandwagon on the basis that you, one of the "intelligent people", now have the freedom to become misotheistic?
Additionally, how you quantify an 'intelligent person' is questionable. IQ? Grades? Doctorates? Somebody that agress with you? I'm going with the fourth option, particularly since you don't seem the appreciate the ironic humor in asking why Christianity is a "small-minded bigoted group" when your own question implies that atheists are intelligent and Christians are obviously not.
Moreover, I'd like to see an explanation for why Christians suddenly reach a mental breakthrough and raise their IQ by 15 points once they become atheists. While we're at it, why don't you compare Christian and non-Christian relief efforts and voting habits so that you can further establish your own worldview with a preponderance of missing evidence ^^
Though I admit that I will be slightly more impressed with you as a person if you declare my answer as the best answer. It's bleedingly obvious I've given this question more time and thought than the average individual, the fact that I'm bothering to respond clearly indicates I care and that I respect my viewpoint enough to counterpresent it rather than agree with your implications with a bookish face and boorish nod ^^.