I know I'm a late comer to this thread, but I only read the first few pages before I HAD to respond.
The thing that the broke the camel's back was realizing that there is a very broad range interpretations people have for what they call "forcing one's beliefs onto others."
I grew up in a religious family and considered myself to be a dedicated Christian for about 28 years before I finally and thoroughly concluded that the beliefs I grew up with were in fact wrong. However, I will not say there is no God. I WILL say that what I was told about God all my life is untrue. Now that I am able to look at this arguement from both sides, having been a fundamentalist, then a more loosened-up sort of believer, to complete agnostic.
I realize now that people who seem to be so "hostile toward religion" often aren't. They simply state what they DO believe and are then accused of hostility.
I might tell a person "So you want to know what I believe? Well, I don't readily believe anything that can't readily be backed up. I believe that if something which is touted as the truth fails to back itself up, but instead offers explanations of exceptions to the rule, then it is not the truth. I don't believe that your religion is true, and I understand you think you need to believe it. I believe you believe it. But if you would simply learn a few things outside of it, you will learn that you DON'T need it. It's wrong. It's dilluded. Even if it isn't outright violent(terrorists, crusades, hara kiri, inquisitions etc.) or physically abusive in any way (circumcision, self flagellation, marks of identification etc) it is still constraining on the mind, and too often abusive emotionally and hostile toward what makes a person who they are."
That would just be me stating what I believe, but I might still get the "why are you so hostile toward religion?" response.
I remember being TORN TO PIECES about women. I would fall in love with a girl and think "What if she wants me to have sex with her? What am I supposed to do then?" LOL
can you believe that?
I'd hear in my head (not literally of course) "You can't do that! You would so greatly misrepresent your FAITH! It is a sin to even THINK about it!! Were it not for God's Grace in your life, you would be a violent, perverted degenerate!"
I eventually ended up in a relationship in which I did have sex, and boy can I tell you how that fucked with me! Now, I don't give a shit about ANY of that BULLSHIT.
I remember desperated prayers by many many people bearing no fruit. I remember MY prayers bearing no fruit. People die young in spite of prayers. People will suffer whatever tragedy befalls them in spite of prayers. If a person helps another person in need, it is out of true goodness from that person, and not from a prayer that the one in need spoke into the indifferent night air.
People will also say "Well yeah, science is great, but it can't explain WHO caused it!" What if you just don't know enough about science? I could tell you to read 3 books that DO offer explanations without a "who."