It has been suggested in discussions, both here and elsewhere, that there are "atheist fanatics" and that they are "just the same" as religious fanatics. Personally, I find this assertion ludicrous and loathsome. To me, it is simply a new formulation of the "fundamentalist atheist" canard--it is just a way of trying to get vocal atheists to shut up by bringing social pressure to bear. It is just another way of calling us "intolerant" for daring to think they are wrong. I think this is the first step to forcing us all to either embrace religious belief again or go back in the closet and pretend to embrace religious belief.
So the question for discussion is whether atheistic fanaticism really exists and, if it does, whether or not it is comparable to religious fanaticism.
As I think I have made clear, I do not think that atheistic fanaticism really exists. I think it is just a label put on those atheists who dare to state that they are right and the religious are wrong as a matter of fact. The religious can say this without a label being attached to them; we cannot.
I think it is also clear that even the most extreme atheists do not even remotely come close to the fanaticism of the religious.
Do you live in a community which is predominately religious?
I have found that many local theist groups 'control' or 'monopolize' activities that might have positive social effect. I think due to the fear that other organizations might get the upper hand on social legitimacy and power.
At the last church dinner I attended last Friday, the Salvation Army was in full force, with volunteers, donations, food from the local Food-bank, even a prayer circle for the low income/street people folks. The local SA members were in full dress blacks, with full neo-military signs of 'rank'. I might consider such uniforms as pretendous, I quess If I were 'christ' I would roll over in my grave, if I had one. 'Doing the good work', does not need props.
Because of my interest in neighborhood gardens, one local minister is in on-going conversation with my significant, I, and others for this coming spring's gardens. He knows that I am not a 'theist', but I have attended his bible studies, and showed a deep respect for others ideas and beliefs, but will also not back down when necessary. I have mentioned that I figure 'Christ' should be on similar footing with Socrates and Plato, due to his social/cultural effects, but I have mis-givings about 'details'.
While I am not criticizing your approach in the context provided, I mostly find it interesting that in a thread on 'atheistic fanaticism' it sounds like you're the one moderating yourself to accommodate theists. I understand the phrase "won't back down when necessary" and take it at face value, but if someone in my social circles said "God's people are best" in earnest, it would be perfectly acceptable to call it out for the faux-pax it is. I wouldn't expect it to sour any relationships.
Good will is fine, but it has to be predicated on [mutual] respect, in my opinion. In the afore mentioned scenario, would you argue that there was all that much respect on either side?
Yes, as to moderation.
I pick my battles as best I can, sadly many battles could be joined on the lightest pretense. The fellow that asserted the 'God's people are best', was also a man out work, just lost his marriage, and was wearing the only suit he had to the dinner. I gave him a pass, since I also was there for the dinner, but with maybe a better set of pre-conditions. As a 'quest', I was not going to create one more layer of nuttyness while all around me seemed of good spirits and of kind hearts.
I am still running a 'test' of my ability to find some common ground with people that otherwise might show me the door, or pray over me as away to validate their personal obsession(s).
Their respect is conditional upon 'ignorance' of my metaphysical commitments. Being a good man inspite of their tendency to define my humanity away, is my first stage goal. My second goal to be a 'good man', and still be who I 'am', without resorting to the maintenance of ignorance. Not all theists define 'the other' as 'evil', but many do. In contrast, atheists should consider a different path than some standardized alienation or the 'language of battle'.
The world is a very big place, can we really afford to cast ourselves into armed camps?
I think there is such a thing (for reasons others have given), but that simply disagreeing with the religious doesn't qualify. It's an over-used accusation, and it's a common technique practiced by both sides of just about every political debate. The real deal is a problem, but is rarer than the other side thinks, and the OP has correctly identified that this is an intimidation technique.
Your last statement is pretty obvious though, after all, no one would blow themselves, or in fact anyone else, up for atheism.
As for whether fanaticism is real or not, I think it is important to acknowledge that many atheists do not contribute to reasonable discussion, which, if you are a rationalist you must oppose as you should support bringing people to your side of the argument via evidence and logical argument.
Obviously the term "atheist fanatic" is often used to silence atheists when all they desire is to put forth their point of view, as seemingly everyone on here needs to point out. But that doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't or can't exist.
It is also wrong to use atheism as a synonym for rationalism, though I would laugh at anyone who isn't an atheist, or at least a secularist, who identifies as a rationalist, there are millions who don't believe in any god worldwide, and overall humans are a very irrational species (not that there is a rational species (on earth(that we know of)) since every other animal is incapable of comprehending the concept of rationality).
Remember Buddhists are often atheists, are their beliefs rational?