Your approach is great, Jonathan.
The arguments we make against faith fall flat on their ears just as their arguments fall flat with us. It's like we are not speaking the same language.
If we listen politely, ask questions (politely), then we give them the opportunity to notice that their arguments are not airtight.
A double "amen" to your Christian friendships!!
Believers absolutely need atheist friends.
Let's be gentle, folks!
I agree with your comments Mark and Jonathan.
A gentle approach - sow the seeds of Freethought.
You are right that anti-theism is needed. Each person has their own role. There is a place for the militant, and for the gentle persuasion.
As for myself, there aren't a lot of venues where I have freedom of speech. Most people who I interact with are in a professional and corporate setting. The only approach that I can take is to quietly be who I am. I don't nod and agree when people express their religion. If someone asks, I tell them the truth.
Thank you for taking the high road and and standing up for truth.
How can Atheism become Anti-Theism?
There is another way atheism can become anti-Theism. I am an open athiest for last 13ys or so in Pakistani society. You perhaps have an idea about the nature of society I live in. We feel almost alienated. Even the look in the people eyes make you feel agitated. When one experiences this for so long, its natural for him to become an anti-thiest as a reaction.
As for as argumentation is concerned, usually you are talking to deaf ears. Brains instead of weighing the argument thinking of counter arguments.
I talk to new people everyday in their homes as I'm a carpet cleaner. Most are religious... but when I find out what brand of religion they are, I start pointing out all the crazy stuff the OTHERS believe.
I'm really trying as hard as I can to show them how STUPID the religions all are by comparison and not saying a word about theirs -sort of fill-in-the-blank. Hopefully I've planted a seed. These people LOSE something significant though -It's like they've been investing all their effort for years in fool's gold. And I try not to chide the old and infirm. They're set in their ways and would only suffer by tearing it away.
I'm convinced however that the Monkeys wont let go of the religious-branch until they have a better branch to grab; The ground is just to scary for them, and all their friends are holding on for dear life. I'm writting my own book on Orderism
Ohhhh, I think I would lose business if they knew I take the Strong Atheist position. Word of mouth is the best advertising in carpet cleaning.
When asked what religion I am, I say "my family was protestant". I also let them know I have both Origin of Species AND The New Testament on my smart phone as audio books -gotta be educated ya'know. And I let them know I'm not 100% sold on this afterlife deal.
ALSO!... mentioning I have Darwin's Origin of Species, then BACKTRACKING by saying "oops, i guess that's a no-no in some houses??" -They will sometimes reveal their own level of belief, even Atheist sometimes.
Thanks for the words of encouragement!