You asked numerous questions throughout your post, most of which I, unfortunately, do not have answers for. It is definitely true that the United States is overall a "Christian Nation." Religion essentially surrounds us. Not only is it on the money we carry, but we are constantly confronted with prayer in a variety of situations and we definitely see religion's presence when simply driving down the street. This is not the case in other nations. For example, in Germany, it is illegal to wear religious symbols in public schools. Freedom of religion (or freedom from religion) is a constitutional right that is promised to all citizens. This, however, is not playing out the way it should. Freedom of religion means I have a right to choose what I believe, if anything. Unfortunately, those of us that do not believe in the United States are looked at as second class citizens. We've even been called un-American. Recent social science research shows that we are the most disliked minority group. Because of this, I think the only thing we can do is work together if we wish to see any progress. Of course, joining websites like this one is an important step, but could also lead to nothing. Oftentimes people just reaffirm their own viewpoints without ever actually fighting for or instituting social change. If we want to see actual change, we need to join and work with groups that have power to inact change. One of these groups is the Secular Coalition for America. This group has people working in Washington on policy that guarantees the separation of church and state. This is an important value for many non-believers. Of course, this is just one example of a group you could join and get involved with. There are numerous others out there, many of which I'm unfamiliar with.
In my opinion, the most important thing we can do is to be open about our beliefs and our viewpoints while attempting to steer clear of hostility toward religion. If we are going to show anyone that we are, for the most part, good, moral people, we cannot be attacking the core of their belief system in a demeaning and degrading manner. Its important to let those around you know that you are atheist/agnostic/skeptical/etc... It shows them that there are "normal" people out there that just do not believe in god. I do not think conversations on websites like this are a waste of time outright, but you don't have to convince any of these people that you are right or that you are a good person.
I go to bars and drink with christians, and I associate with them at restaurants, art galleries and museums, and everywhere else. Usually religion has nothing to do with my daily activities. If a christ-tard brings it up to me (I never bring it up to them), I feel justified in hauling out my entire arsenal of mockery and scorn for their beliefs.
Of course, I am old, retired, and, basically invulnerable now.
Yeah it's funny how you can hang out with someone for as long as religion doesn't come up in conversation, but when you admit to being an atheist then bam. You're a different person, debating starts, and you just can't go back to just hanging out like you were 10 minutes ago.
As atheists we assume the everyday people we talk to have a religion, so we don't hold that against them at all. But then they pick one of us out and they can't accept us for our lack of beliefs.
To get to the first post, I think the only ways to get accepted are either through time, or by hardships. I'm addressing the "what can we do to improve our lives" question here. There's no debate that more and more people are "outing" themselves as atheist/agnostic, so I think in good time there will be enough reasonable people out there. But there's another way to get rights in this country, which is to show enough people the hardships we go through. The US loves movements that start from a single act of unjust. All it would take is someone losing a job because of being atheist. That then a lawsuit with lots of publicity could change the tables.
With all that being said, (I know it's hella long, sorry) I don't think it's necessary. I don't think we suffer, lol. Sure there's unjust everyday if you're a non-Christian but it's not all bad. I personally choose the wait until people realize how idiotic they've been.
We can overcome the daily challenge of living apart from the "religious" people by NOT living apart. Living apart from them is the problem. To create an amiable atmosphere with the religious, we have to interact with them on common ground; we have to start connecting with the religious on other social planes.
EX. My best friend is a "born-again" christian. He knows I am an atheist, but we still get together and have fun. Religion is not an issue between us because we have found other things that we are both passionate about (like video games, electronics, books, etc).
Separating the religious from the non-religious is the wrong approach. It sets us apart; it alienates us from those who we need to become close (politically and socially). Take, for example, the segregation of blacks and whites in the south in the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. The segregation alienated the two groups, one was socially and politically superior to the other. But in the 1960's, segregation was ended. Slowly, black people grew in political power and social status. Our situation is no different. We (the nonreligious and the religious) need to come together lest we (the nation) fall apart.
Why should we wish to live apart from the religious community? While I agree that the faithful can be, at times difficult to be around due to gratuitous expressions of faith, this is a rather small annoyance for myself. What you are suggesting is that we "should" distance ourselves from the faithful, that it is a positive without considering if it even is a positive action from the outset. Frankly, I have had numerous positive conversations with members of faith and though we don't always agree, I don't feel that segregating ourselves into our own community will in any way make the faithful more responsive to who we are and what we think? Living and interacting with compassion, honesty skepticism, civility and so on, within the religious community is, I feel, what is required. In-group out-group is a method of the religious and not one to be adopted if we are to desire a fruitful existence with our fellow man no matter his perceived delusions in our eyes.
Whether websites such as this are a waste of time depends on the individual, I personally think at times it is, other times not. The over-all benefits I suppose would be exposure of a way of thinking possibly to a group willfully segregated but never the less curious, with the hope that some will see we are far less evil than once thought or were told to think and spread the thought with others of their community. It also allows those who due to a fear of "coming out" might be inclined to take the leap and pose questions with a degree of anonymity not available to them in their current environment.
As far as socializing goes, I think it's somewhat boring to have discussions of atheism simply with atheists in general and prefer involving anyone with a modicum of intellect and a desire to share ideas and opinions without fear of judgement associated with one's faith. All persons in the discussion really should enter with the understanding that you may have your feelings hurt or hurt others though it should not be intentional.
Which christians spend a lot of time reading their bible? Of the mountains of faithful I've met and talked to very few have read it to any significant degree. Most bible knowledge expressed by the faithful is what has been told to them repeatedly, were we to separate ourselves from them how would they ever see a different perspective and be able to question the repetitious expressions of faith?
Though I don't recall who it was who first uttered the phrase "bringing atheists together is like trying to herd cats" I feel it to be accurate in most cases. The reason I suspect is that since we don't have (nor should we ever adopt) a dogmatic doctrine as a guide heralded above all others we have no unifying idol in which to rally. So much the better, if in fact were we to all meet somewhere there is a good chance that those of us who are quite close via the internet medium would simply not like each other in a face to face scenario and those relationships cooled through web exchange might improve. I guess my point is, if you want to distance yourself from the religious world you will likely be one lonely person.