In ancient Rome, social appearance and respectability were everything. The most hated men were punished with damnatio memoriae, damnation of memory. Every trace that a person had ever lived was removed. Busts were shattered, freizes were marred, records were struck. Any sign of the hated figure was destroyed.
Atheists and agnostics get a jolt when one or more deities make an appearance, and take a direct interest in things. It is hard to deny the existence of gods when one has met them face to face.