Am I alone in being disturbed by the tone of current public discourse on religion? I am - as I have explained before - an atheist, but rather wish I wasn't. I can see that religion meets a basic human need. I would be a fool not to see that, given that religions with very similar characteristics have arisen (and continue to arise) in every human society. The religious may be wrong about the details of their beliefs. Amusingly, like militant leftists, they tend to devote a lot of energy to denouncing the heresies of their fellow-believers. So even most of them think that most of them are wrong. Still, there's no denying the needs their diverse faiths express.
I am human too and would love - for example - to believe that Mrs P., my late wife, still exists somewhere - safe and happy. Offer me a pill that would make me think that and - for all my love of truth - I might just take it. So who am I to criticise those whose faith gives them just such comfort?
As Mrs P converted to Catholicism in her final months, I have had a lot to do with Christians over the last year. I have found them, contrary to their depiction in both msm and blogosphere, to be more tolerant and respectful of other views than many atheists - not least the unscientifically arrogant Dawkinsites. I defend, of course, the freedom of my fellow atheists to scoff at "sky fairies". On the whole, however, I think their arguments might prosper better if they were as civilised in their discourse as the faithful.
There is no more need for a special "freedom of religion" than there is for "gay rights". Human freedoms and rights are for all or for none. Freedom of thought and expression will suffice for all sensible purposes. Right now, the religious seem to pose little threat to either and the attacks on them seem - at best - disproportionate.