In 2009, President Barack Obama spoke to Muslims in his Inaugural Address. "Your people will judge you on what you can build and not what you destroy."
This focus on destruction is not unique to Muslims. It is a poison to any community. It is prevalent in the poison of racism which has invaded Christian groups in the form of Militias. Parts of the Tea Party also have this disease of destruction, seeking to repeal Health Care Reform, fringe elements praying for Obama to die. In my view, it's these elements which poison the communities they are a part of. In some cases, the point of the community is to destroy another.
To me, there seems to be a growing number of atheists who want to see religion destroyed. I think these people, who may have always been around, are the ones who can make the community suffer. It is difficult to form a community around what you don't believe in and that is what atheists do. Atheists are an incredibly diverse community, however, those who participate in organizations seem to be overwhelmingly liberal politically, don't have kids, or their kids are out of the house. Most seem to have been raised with a religion and have sought out a community because it can be difficult to, in some cases, be rejected from friends and family because you don't happen to share the same views on theology.
It's this last point, I think, which causes much of the anger among active atheists and causes problems for others which are looking for another type of community. People who have chosen intellectual honesty over friendships and normal relations with family will be pretty angry at the reason why their lives are different now. I know I was really angry at religious people and religion in general after reading Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. I blamed even moderate religious Christians for every bit of religious violence. The Twin Towers fell because of the group of peaceful Quakers who meet every week. When I saw the Freedom From Religion Foundation's ads which said "Imagine No Religion" and showed a picture of the World Trade Centers standing, I cheered. It made perfect sense to me. The terrorists were Muslim and without Islam, they wouldn't be Islamic terrorists and wouldn't have killed themselves without the promise of 72 virgins. It was a simplistic notion and I bought into it.
I feel like my opinion of religion and religious people is different than it once was. It is bigoted to treat all religious people alike. Religious people are not stupid. Religious people can share the same ethical values I have. Religious people can understand science and are not brainwashed into belief. I might have been poisoned by the Interfaith movement, but I see a value in joining people together who have different views on theology, but share similar goals for how to make the world a better place. My former views wouldn't have supported this one bit. By working with religious people, I was allowing them to spread lies to children to brainwash the uneducated and ignorant. The side effect is that our world will not progress as long as the religious are allowed to be religious without atheists speaking up and ridiculing and shaming them into disbelief.
One challenge with atheist groups is focusing on missions. Do you exist to form a community of people who feel alone, who need support, who feel like they need to do something to lessen the impact of religion on society? Do you exist to teach people who are religious that atheists are normal? Do you exist to make the world a better place and how do you go about doing that? I don't think that the focus on converting the religious to atheists, which some atheist evangelists want, is a realistic goal and causes problems in communities which are trying to grow. These are the people who would go door to door expressing the "good news" of atheism. These are the people who seek to destroy and are poisoning the community in the same way the violent and racist members of the Tea Party and Christian groups have done. The difference is that the numbers are much smaller but the effect is the same. The people who aren't into that, the ridicule and victim mentality, the people who weren't raised religious, the people who think that religion isn't evil, will simply leave.
I'm on the fence. I'm going to form a community of one.