Latest post of the previous page:I see that the word 'militant' in some people's minds is inextricably linked to violence and terror and I find this interesting. My own understanding of the word comes from the contexts I have most often heard it used in: the trade union movement and the women's movement where, back in the 70s, I recall it being used to describe those trade unionists and feminists who were most "vigorously active and aggressive, esp. in support of a cause", to use the definition provided by dictionary.com. Bombs and guns weren't part of their armoury, however.
Some atheists give the impression of being wholly preoccupied with religion. They not only make the most of every opportunity to criticise it - and their criticisms tend to be sweeping - but they also devote much time and energy to mocking it and the mockery is often creative and entertaining to those of us who are on the same side but extremely offensive and hurtful to those who are not. These are the people I call 'militant atheists'. No, they don't go in for physical violence - their weapons are mainly words and cartoons and suchlike. But my point is that to many religious people and, indeed, to many atheists who aren't so passionate and uncompromising, they frequently come across as self-righteous, obsessive and aggressive - just like their religious counterparts, in fact, which is why they get called 'fundamentalist atheists'.
I have quite a lot of respect for some militant atheists (at least some of the time) and a great deal of contempt for others. The Freethinker, which I would certainly describe as a militant atheist rag, usually bores the piss out of me. Christopher Hitchens' God is not Great is one of my favourite books at the moment, even though the author is a typical example of the worst kind of religion-obsessed atheist. A brief extract from an account by someone who met him recently: "I tried to get him to talk about secular humanism more, he always brought the conversation back to some obscure Jewish, Catholic, or Muslim law and why that law was proof that there is no god. We pointed out to him many times that he was preaching to the choir, that he could talk about moving past atheism. He refused. He argued like a broken record." I can think of other people who behave like that: a couple of them used to post on this forum and another, whom I think of as a personal friend, is the creator of the English Atheist website.
I am clear in my own mind that this group is clearly identifiable and that I don't belong to it and that is why I intend to continue using the term to distinguish them from other activist atheists like myself.