One often hears the term "intolerant" bandied about by the religious. They like to use this word as an epithet against anyone who dares to disagree with them. In other words, as I explained before, they don't seem to know what it really means.
Intolerance is refusing to accept the other person's right to disagree and be left alone--it is not disagreement itself. History shows that the religious are and always have been the intolerant ones. By calling non-believers intolerant for simply disagreeing with them, they are proving that they are still the intolerant ones. Disagree with their ideas or beliefs and they start name calling.
The religious have, throughout history, tried to exterminate every atheist they could find. In many countries they still do so today. Furthermore, they didn't simply hang us from a nearby tree; they burned us at the stake, tortured us, etc.
Even in places where the religious have stopped doing that sort of thing, they are still attempting to persecute us to the fullest extent they can get away with--regardless of law, ethics, morality, and decency. I can attest to this from firsthand experience. The religious have proved their intolerance to me over and over again, starting almost the very moment I realized that religion was literally myth.
For the religious to accuse non-believers of intolerance for disagreeing with them is the most clear example of psychological projection I have ever encountered. By calling us intolerant for disagreeing with them, they are letting us know, in no uncertain terms, that they intend to be intolerant of us for disagreeing with them. They know that we have a right to disagree but not to be intolerant. By labeling our disagreement as intolerance, they are attempting to set the stage for--justifying--taking action against us that will cause us to "shut up and conform".
There are really two issues here that have been confused by the religious and treated as one: Intolerance of people and intolerance of ideas. The fact that they confuse the two and act as if the two notions are the same thing indicates that there is no difference in their minds between themselves as individuals and their religion. This clearly shows the extent to which a religious person's ego is tied up in his religion and helps explain why religious people have always been so intolerant of those who don't belong to their religion.
Furthermore, this deliberate confusion results in an implicit threat to the non-believer. By making it clear that he intends to take the disagreement personally, the believer is saying "shut up, or else". The "or else" depends on the particular believer's nature but it's clearly a threat. Such a person is on the same moral and intellectual level as a schoolyard bully. Given religion's history as little more than a violent, intolerant mob, this is no surprise. Given that their god is a violent, intolerant bully, a change in their nature would be a great surprise.
These sorts of implicit threats are one of the many ways in which the religious poison and undermine the marketplace of ideas--which they then pretend to rely on as "proof" of religion's reasonableness by saying "a lot of people believe". As I mentioned before, implicit in the assertion that "a lot of people believe" as an argument for belief is a threat of mob violence because the number of people who believe a thing is not proof of its truth. It is proof, however, of the fact that disagreeing will make one unpopular.
Ideas, especially important ones that effect the course of people's lives and the course of history, should be examined vigorously. In fact, I would argue that we all have a moral duty to do so rather than leave ourselves and our fellow humans to suffer the negative effect of incorrect ideas.
I am not intolerant of any person solely because of his or her beliefs. Not once have I ever treated anyone unfairly or done them any harm because of their beliefs. I am, however, intolerant of conclusions reached without proper evidence or logic.
I am also intolerant of those who would not only defend such non-thinking but actually try to force me to accept it--believe me, they have tried--and then seek to harm me for refusing to do so and for refusing to pretend that their belief makes any sense.
If one man has a belief in a supernatural being, he is insane, if ten people do, it's a cult, if a hundred million or more do, it's a respected religion. The only thing that has changed in those scenarios is the literal power of the believers to punish those who dare to speak up about their lack of logic and evidence. In short, religion and the idea that it deserves any respect at all is entirely based on the fallacy that might makes right. It is bullying, pure and simple. Bullying in support of the irrational, which I think is evil or, at least, bound to result in evil.
Religion is so ludicrous and so evil (and I use that word with deliberate intent) that it is difficult to discuss it without sounding like you are using invective. It is, at best, morally indistinguishable from racism of the worst sort.
Furthermore, given the way in which atheists have been treated by the religious and the way I, personally, have been treated, I think we have every right to use a bit of invective. Some things and some people deserve a name and, in fact, require a name as a part of our moral judgment. A person convicted of a felony is called a felon. A person who believes in the invisible magic man in the sky and believes the rest of us should be forced to adhere to what the invisible magic man's earthly representatives say that "He" has dictated deserve a name.
They deserve every bit of ridicule and invective we can heap upon them--and more.
They are intolerant bullies and they have no right to be. We non-believers have every right to defend ourselves against them. Defending yourself against those who would harm you, who would take away your freedom and force you live in accordance with their beliefs upon threat of physical or economic violence, is not intolerance. It is the most basic of human rights.
If believers were willing to mind their own business and keep their religion to themselves, I would have no problem with them or their religion. Religious people who consider their religion a private matter and who do not think it should be forced on others receive only my pity. I see them as victims of a massive con game. But, such people seem too rare in my experience. The majority have no doubt that their views should be forced on us all--even if they have learned not to say so openly.
My personal experience, current events, and history show, however, that they are always seeking to force their superstitions on others. They want to remake the world based on their religion because they simply can't comprehend that their fantasies are not realities--which is the very definition of delusion. Their intolerance is inevitable and inherent in the fact that their entire worldview is an ego driven delusion that they have an emotional need to maintain--an emotional need that supersedes virtually all of their other needs and most definitely supersedes any feeling they might have that they owe a duty to respect others.
For most of my adult life I have given the religious more tolerance than they have given me--by far. They have repaid me by showing me extreme intolerance while at the same time daring to accuse me of intolerance. My experience is typical. Historically and morally, their behavior is the equivalent of Nazis accusing liberal Jews of intolerance--and, then, using that bogus accusation as an excuse to be intolerant. Such behavior is a clear sign of the extent of their outrageous intentions: They will go to any lengths to rationalize their desire to "do away" with us by whatever means necessary.
I have no duty to be tolerant of the intolerant. Nor does any other civilized person. Anyone who is tolerant of the intolerant is simply setting himself, and civilization, up for destruction. Such a person has forfeited his right to self-defense and failed in his moral duty to protect others from injustice and other harm.