Most of us here would agree that rationally, the death of religion, or at least reducing it to silly superstition in the eyes of the vast majority, would be unimaginably healthy for the human race.

But to what extent (if at all) should we actively work to bring that about without becoming the hypocrite evangelists we so revile? "It's ok for us to shove our belief at you but not ok for you to shove your belief at us."

The first defense of this is that our 'belief' isn't a belief; it's rational, empirical fact. But bearing in mind that most theists genuinely see their belief as a given fact where does our rationalizing and reasoning end and outright attack of another's freedom to believe in Santa Claus or Jesus or the Easter Bunny begin?

I myself do believe in spreading the good atheist news so to speak. I feel I was brainwashed by Christianity as a child and am grateful for those who spoke the voice of reason, validated my own internal questioning, and did their part to help lead me out of the cult. I feel almost a moral obligation to point those in the Emerald City in the direction of the man behind the curtain so they at least have a fair chance to discover for themselves that the Wizard of Oz isn't a real wizard. But I also believe in an individual's right to choose to stay in that cult, to believe in the Wizard despite all evidence to the contrary, without undue pressure or interference on their rights from me.

So where is that line? And do we have an ethical/moral obligation to cross it or to stay behind it?

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I have no moral or ethical issues with deprogramming the religious. I mean, we have no god that tells us to use physical force against their religions and there's much reasons to believe a world without religion would be more ethical.

Jesus isn't in the same boat as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Jesus is a fairy tale for adults. Trix, Santa and Easter bunnies are for kids.
Besides, no sane adult thinks the Easter Bunny lives in their soul and talks to them in their head, which leads to the question of whether xions are sane. We shouldn't give discriminatory special treatment for mental illness when it concerns one fictional character over the other.

"do we have an ethical/moral obligation to cross it or to stay behind it?"
I can answer this with a question, wouldn't you want help if you were ill?
We aren't reducing ourselves to the theist's level when we "evangelize" our stance. There are some key differences which make our stance a bit more reasonable.

For one, we aren't preaching a self-help system which requires the abandoning of logical thought and reasoning; we're preaching about why these cults are harmful to society, and how they can hinder progress.

Not to mention, when you live in a society that's dominated by followers who easily submit to the "sheep" mentality, you have to compete for their attention with those who are using less than humane ways to con people out of their time and money, and to subject themselves to unreasonable thoughts and actions. It's only reasonable for us to fight back in the same way: make our stance known. If every atheist kept his/her mouth shut all the time, how could we possibly spread the message to people who are used to seeing Jesus everywhere they turn?

We're not forcing people to adhere to something ridiculous; we're encouraging them to use logic and reasoning to review such topics and make healthy decisions.
Facts and logic will never convert anyone. It can plant a seed if it is done in a very friendly, non-threatening way but it will never result in direct conversions.

The best tools for evangelism by Christians are also, IMHO, the best tools for us to use.
1) be open and unashamed about your beliefs
2) be friendly, social, available
3) be kind and genuinely interested in others
4) invite people (when they're ready) to atheist gatherings
5) befriend new atheists
6) put new atheists to work in an organized group

Everyone wants to feel loved and needed. Their beliefs will follow their hearts. It's sad but true.
*Warning: atheist dissent*

I'm not so sure evangelizing atheism is a great idea. In fact, I think its likely a bad idea. Atheism is merely an absence of belief in a deity. That's all - nothing more, nothing less. By itself, I don't think it holds much wieght. Skepticism, critical thinking, and scientific literacy are far more important attributes that we should be evangelizing.

Besides, these things tend to result in the rejection of superstitious nonsense like gods/devils and heaven/hell anyway. If a change is made in the terminology, from "evangelizing atheism" to "championing science, skepticisim and reason", then I'm on board. Otherwise, I can only see the blunt hammer that is preaching atheism (remember, only an absence of belief) detract from what really needs to be accomplished.
Encourage good thinking and good manners.
I agree with Bryan. Atheism is really only an absence of belief. I do not see a strong, common platform of positive belief among atheists. I see evidence that many (not all) who identify as atheists are also skeptics. Their skepticism is usually what brought them to atheism, not the other way around. And there are plenty more things to be skeptical about than the existence of gods.
God represents a giant hole in the logic of regular, everyday people. I would rather people follow a false idol than reject that idol without understanding why. If the majority of people can't grasp logic and reasoning, what does that say about our race?

Preaching can be done in many different ways. Even though we don't want to be like the religious folk, we still have to make our stance and our arguments known to everyone else.
I guess that's kind of my moral dilemma; encouraging logic and free thought without crossing the line into preaching it in the you-must-believe-what-I-believe way in which so many theists come across.

The whole idea of promoting free thought is to stay away from you-must-believe-what-I-believe. At the same time, it really annoys me to see so many people, especially friends and family, believe a lie because they've been frightened with fire and brimstone into never questioning it (and because logic and reason don't seem to be common hu-man skill sets). I think Root has a good point. While I don't know if I'd go quite so far as calling theism mental illness (in some cases, yes, but not all), if I were being lied to on a mass scale like that, I would appreciate the little revolutionaries on the side who get the opposing facts in front of me.

To that end I think we do need to be unashamed, vocal, and not back down when god is interjected into government offices, the pledge of allegiance, whatever. I think we really do need to be vocal about questioning and protesting, say, a nativity scene on a courthouse lawn. At least insist that a Flying Spaghetti Monster be placed next to the nativity scene in the interest of religious equality.
"Most of us here would agree that rationally, the death of religion, or at least reducing it to silly superstition in the eyes of the vast majority, would be unimaginably healthy for the human race."

I'm not convinced that's true. Nor do I support proselytising of any kind.

I don't personally know ANY atheist who has ever claimed the death of religion will improve humanity. I certainly don't. In fact I think such a claim is Utopian nonsense..

Religion was invented to meet human needs,that's why it's virtually universal,and why beliefs and rituals vary so much.

The abolition of religion has already been tried and recently. EG in the former Soviet Union, The PRC,Cuba,North Korea.In each case religion was replaced by a powerful political personality cult.

In my opinion,religion does not create society, human personality or character.It merely reflects what is already there.The contradictions inherent in all major religions are used to justify any behaviour,from that of the mystic to that of the suicide bomber.
I hope that your dislike of "prosteletizing of any kind" doesn't mean that you'd like to see atheists crawl back into the closet. The best prosteletizing tool that we have is being visible about who we are and living exciting, interesting lives. Prosteletizing is not the same as destroying religion. Religion is pretty much universal - but, on the other hand, so is doubt. Religion has a pretty big head start, so I don't think that encouraging religious doubt is going to do much damage.
I agree with Tarquin's comments 100%. Thank you, Tarquin.

Religion was invented to meet human needs,that's why it's virtually universal,and why beliefs and rituals vary so much.

True enough, but you must also understand the time at which religion was invented.

A time when we had no other means to explain the natural world. We have just recently unearthed the scientific method of discovery, compared to superstition, the scientific method is a nanosecond old. I think given enough time, science will erode religion down to a very low minority and will probably only survive in the most illiterate of environments.




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