On a message board I used to haunt, and now only do so infrequently (don't quite know why). A post was made asking the board members what their religion, or 'belief system' was, what the predominant belief system was of the people they knew, and finally what it was for the region. A final question was posted, asking what the individual poster's view on atheists was. (I know, the grammar nazi's are going to kill me for that sentence.)
Here's my, fairly long, response to that final question.
"Seeing as I am an atheist I tend to have a pretty positive view of them. I was raised in a ultra-fundamentalist family but once I realized how much I'd been lied to about reality, I converted first to deism, then became an agnostic, and eventually an atheist. I'm part of the "I know I can't prove there is no god; but I find the concept of a god very highly unlikely" atheist crowd. Like Carl Sagan said, "Extraordinary claims, require extraordinary evidence"; having witnessed the death of my god (my conception of god at least) I'm unlikely to take on another without evidence.
I'm one of the more outspoken atheists, mainly because I live in a place that is SO Christian. Many of the people I know from the 'old days' would be quite happy with a Christian Theocracy. So I've become outspoken mainly as an attempt to give other non-Christians around me (atheist, agnostic, deist, poly/monotheists) knowledge that there is someone else who disagrees with the fundies. Not so much outspoken trying to prove there is no god (see my previous statement), but outspoken to provide resistance against the Christians who I know who are quite in love with the idea of that theocracy (not every Christian believes this I know).
My other reason for being outspoken is that as a chemist, with an interest in many of the other fields of science, and the scientific method in general, I see the (again this is among the ultra-fundamentalists) derision and scorn poured out on science and the scientific method. I fear another period similar to the Dark Ages if these theocratic minded Christians ever truly gained enough power; because of their scorn for reason based investigation and methodology.
That said, I don't believe in the idea of making it illegal to believe in the supernatural. Our species has used the supernatural for tens of thousands of years to explain the unknown. But, when a person's belief begins to go into the area of telling others what they can/cannot do I begin to worry. I believe it was the biologist PZ Myers who said that he thought that religion should become something like a knitting circle. Not interfering with people who don't want to knit (believe), but not made illegal by any stretch of the imagination.
As a chemist/scientist I find an amazing sense of wonder and awe at the universe around me. Both on the astronomical scale, and the molecular scale. The awe and joy I find in observing those is richer, and for me, purer than anything I experienced in my days as a theist."