Thank you CW, for remarks on my ranting. I do it, I am not ashamed of it nor I apologizes for it either. I have lost many family members to the zealots of religion, I have studied the history of deeds and work of people of god, and spent 8.5 years of my precious life, preparing to preach the drivel people a fed with from a pulpit.
As I said (sorry, intimated), I'm not arguing about your points, which I see as valid. My only objection is with your approach, which I see as being counter productive.
Just as vegetarians rarely convince meat eaters to follow their personal lifestyle choice, venting to everyone about minor slip-ups is unlikely to sway anyone.
I've followed a similar tactic with regards to gay and transgender rights. I'm familiar with the culture through my exposure to it via my older brother, who was a recognized leader in the movement for many years. Instead, I take a very low-key approach to it.
I describe my approach to "Push/Pull". While the gay rights activists push for equal protection, I attempt to pull others forward through a less intensive approach. By including gay and transgenered characters in my stories, just as I do other minorities, I hope to open the eyes of those unlikely to relent thru brute force.
Whatever else you say, silly comedies like "Will & Grace" had a huge impact, by showing everyday people that gays aren't frightening. True, the shows like that only reinforce offensive stereotypes, and rarely develop the characters beyond simply 2-dimensional cut outs, but they advance the movements tremendously by simple exposure of the positive aspects of the culture.
I see the same in our conflict of views. I understand your anger, but for everyone angry man shaking their fist at the world (like you), hopefully there are also hundreds working behind the scenes to subtly influence people (like me) in a less-objective manner.
That doesn't diminish the role of the agitator. Hell, most civil rights would never pass in the first place if it wasn't for people like you, railing against the unjust. But I also see how alienating such rantings become, polarizing positions rather than opening hearts.
And in the end, your position is the one which gets the credit, while mine garners little attention--by design. I'm not trying to make a point, simply nudge people's perceptions.
As far as having to learn and regurgitate religious teachings, I think you're missing the obvious. Virtually every atheist I know goes through that process. Hell, my father was a Christian minister in the military, a fairly conservative position. Just as my brother had to pull him into the 21st century on gay issues, I had to convince my entire family that I wasn't a little lost sheep, in need of saving.
A lot of time has passed since then, and I now have difficulty remembering enough scriptures to defend my positions anymore, but the struggle is hardly yours alone!
My favorite religious point, is that the book of "Revelations" has always seemed like an escape clause, stuck in the end of the bible allowing skeptics to use free will to escape the Bible's teaching. Rather than disproving the viewpoints of the religious, that view gives me greater clarity on how their religious views often blind them to the very teachings they espouse. That's given me a greater ability to forgive them their sins than you seem willing to.
As long as people don't attempt to shove their religion down my throat, I don't insist on shoving my non-religion down theirs. It's not a matter of not caring, instead it's a matter of selecting your battles. There are too many injustices to be cast aside as ineffective. Instead, I save my energy, and my outrage, for the truly overarching and egregious offenses, rather than screaming at every religious notice in the local newspaper.
Anyway, I think we've both ranted enough, especially since this discussion about the roles of atheism have no real basis in a discussion of a "political tag" on SOL. So I'll (once again try to) shut up now.