It sure seems like it at times.....
veterans memorial that includes a Jesus statue in Montana, to a man forcing a restaurant to give up it's Sunday church discount, extreme atheist organizations and people are in my opinion, causing harm to the atheist movement.
Here's why I say this:
Campaigns like this alienate even non fundamentalists.
In the case of the veterans memorial, how many people are going to be offended by the attempts to remove the statue that will then turn against the atheist movement? In US society, there's very few places that are considered more worthy of respect (and some might say sacred) that memorials for veterans. How many people will instead see this as an attack on US military veterans and the memory of fallen soldiers instead of a legal issue?
There's more important things to worry about restaurant discounts:
Instead of worrying about a restaurant trying to thank a large group of it's loyal customers, how about worrying about more important issues? Oh let's see, how about a member of the state legislature that has been trying to outlaw atheism in Kentucky, by making it punishable by up to a year in prison, similar to "blasphemy" laws in the Middle East and South Asia?
What about the judge in Oklahoma that sentenced a teen to 10 years of church services for manslaughter. Not only is that unconstitutional, but this teen will not spend a day in prison for his crime, how is that justice?
How about the fact that the US has so many fundamentalists/is so anti-atheist that that former Christians, especially former fundamentalists are often afraid to come out about their unbelief? For some, it could cost them their marriage, their family may reject them, and they may even lose respect or standing in their career field.
Take the time some day to read the stories of people on the site ex-christian.net, especially the testimonial section on the forums, to get an idea of what it is like to be a former Christian in the US (many of these people are now atheists)
It feeds the delusional persecution complex that fundamentalists have, draws their groups closer together.
Though some leaders like Pat Robertson, who is now claiming that "atheists are trying to steal Christmas", will just outright invent anything to make it appear as though Christianity is being persecuted (despite fundamentalists holding an extreme amount of power in the culture and government), actions like the ones I just mentioned at the beginning of this post do nothing to help matters any. It just feeds the fires of these paranoid ministers and their followers, and draws their groups closer together, it causes them to unite against their opposition (the skeptic community).
It alienates moderates in the skeptic community:
When I posted about the attempts to remove the veterans memorial in Montana, even my fellow skeptics on Google + were divided by this, moderates, mostly agnostics, were disgusted by it, one said that this lawsuit showed to him that hard core atheists are little better than fundamentalists.
The skeptic movement can not afford to lose people because of the fact that some in our midst are this extreme. Why didn't Americans United for Separation of Church and State try to work out a deal with the US Forest Service to have ownership of the statue turned over to a veteran's group or a local religious organization?
That would have solved the constitutional issue of the statue being government owned (and maintained with tax payer dollars), without coming across as hostile to either veterans or historical monuments. What was the point of this lawsuit, really? Was it so that Americans United would get more publicity? Were they deliberately looking to anger people? Is so, they truly succeeded in that mission.
Coming from the fundamentalist background that I did, I suppose it makes me wary of extremism in any philosophy. I feel that as hostile as US culture already is to atheists, misguided campaigns like this over issues that don't truly matter just makes the public perceptions of atheists worse
We can also not afford to become a more fractured group than we already are. Lawsuits and campaigns like this by atheist extremist isolate moderates within the skeptic community such as agnostics, deists and even the non-religious who may believe in a higher power but reject organized religion and it's power in the culture and government.
It really makes me wonder if some US atheist groups actually do hate atheists......