I know that most of you would rather we just let this issue go. And believe me, I want an end to the drama too. But I can't let it end like it's threatening to, with Lone Wolf as the only guilty party.
It's easy to say that Lone Wolf was an attention whore with some sort of persecution complex, and leave it at that. The way he periodically asked us to hate him makes it easy. It's easy to imagine that because he wanted to be persecuted, he worked himself into a delusion that he was being persecuted. But if it was a delusion, it struck me, too. I could see the anti-religion sentiment that drove Lone Wolf away, and I don't blame him for leaving because of it.
The people making anti-religion remarks were not intending to persecute Lone Wolf or discriminate against him, I know that. I can remember making at least one such comment myself, before realizing it to be inappropriate. They - we - think that they were merely expressing their beliefs, not pushing them onto others. And we were. Some may think too that their remarks would only be offensive to one who hated atheism - this is not true. There's a difference between pro-atheism and anti-theism, and that line was crossed more than once. It's fine to express one's lack of faith, and even state reasons for it, but it's inappropriate to imply that other systems of belief are inferior. If Lone Wolf had ever shown any indication that he thought atheism was bad, everyone would have turned on him at once and ripped him to shreds. Yet we, the atheists, can say almost anything negative about religion and, were it not for Lone Wolf, might never even be called out on it.
I'll repeat my analogy between homosexuality and faith, because I think it's a valid one. Neither makes logical sense. Either can bring severe persecution upon its practitioner. And each is innate and natural in some people. Yes, faith is natural. There is no culture in the world that does not have some manner of deity or deities. Scientists have even located the part of the brain responsible for the feeling that something holy exists or is present. What faith says is true cannot be proven scientifically, but the existence of faith can, and no amount of logic can truly eradicate it any more than therapy can 'cure' homosexuality. Both must be accepted.
There can be no 'love the sinner, hate the sin' in this case: To say so would be to call faith a sin, or at least something worth freeing oneself of. And that's the way people here have been treating it. Faith is not a sin; faith is a beautiful thing. I can't convert you to it, and wouldn't if I could. I can't even convert myself to it. But I do respect it, and ask you to do the same.
This isn't the Gay Atheists' Club. This is an Oasis - a little haven of tolerance. Lone Wolf came here seeking that tolerance, needing it perhaps more than anyone, and found it lacking. I pray - oh, yes, I can pray - that he finds more of it on the Russian site. I'm not asking that we bring Lone Wolf back. I'm hoping that we can be more careful with our attitudes about faith and avoid driving anyone else away in the future.