According to this article about Blasphemy Rights Day on RichardDawkins.net,
Not only are the militant stereotypes on the spectrum, I am glad they are there. One of the stupidest things about the liberal movement is that every couple of years they disavow and jettison 5% of their most extreme members. Kick the Communists out, then the Socialists look extreme. Kick the Socialists out, then the New Dealers look extreme. Soon, Nixon is viewed as moderate. These days, if you look at Reagan's policies, HE'S the new "center." When Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are considered the extreme left, and Joe Liebermann is the "moderate" you know some definitional changers are going on. And yet, the left keeps throwing out their 5% most-left, and wondering why our national discourse keeps shifting to the right. Asserting the government's right to torture suspects and wiretap non-suspects, suspending Congressional elections, limiting the right of the poor to vote - all of these ideas were considered too extreme for even serious consideration when I was a kid, but now, although they are far right, they not too out-there for debate. Because the left bi-annually disavows its "extreme" 5%. That wasn't a digression; that was a vision of the way Atheists will be treated if they disavow, discourage, silence, their angry extremists. Go back to that spectrum I described.Now, I think that's a really good point - but aren't atheists (especially Richard Dawkins, on whose site this article is hosted) always complaining about how in religions, the extremists "hide behind" the moderates? I've always said that not's even true, because the extremists usually get far more media coverage than the moderates. But maybe it's true that if religions kicked out their extremists, the whole religious scene would move further to the right.
Certainly it has been argued by religious liberals before that if they left the big powerful churches, the evangelicals and fundamentalists would then occupy the seats of power. That's why Harry Emerson Fosdick never left the church he originally belonged to.
Another thing in the article is a list of types of atheists:
You've walked along the atheist spectrum, right? It ends at the "Angry-in-your-face" Atheist stereotype , goes through the "Don't be a dick" activist , past the "My religion (or lack thereof) is my own business" maverick, through the "I'm still in the closet" person, and starts at the "I'm faking it every Sunday for my family and friends" misery.He missed out a category there - but then it's not really part of that spectrum: spiritual atheists who enjoy attending churches (because they like stories and inspirational poetry and meditation) where they are welcomed as atheists and are not expected to turn into theists.