I don’t know if I’m an exception or not, but I’m usually nice to people, even strangers. I think that in general I’m nice to everyone. I’m not the type of person that goes out with a scowl on his face. So when I have people ask me if, as an atheist, I’m nice to Christians, I say sure, why not?
There’s absolutely no reason, in my opinion, to not be nice to people, or to discriminate against people, based solely on their belief. There are certainly abusive people in the world, Christian or not, but does that give me permission to be abusive to them? It’s easier to walk away.
It’s true in my experience that believers sometimes have this automatic revulsion towards atheists, but should we return the same? I don’t think so. I don’t care what they believe. Their beliefs mean absolutely nothing to me and to be rude or dismissive to them only reinforces their belief that atheists are angry.
The most disarming act Ive found when being attacked in some way by a Christian, is to just smile. I’ve discovered that it leaves them with nothing else to say. Some people just want to be argumentative. As an atheist, I have nothing to argue with a believer because I don’t accept their premise for the argument.
My smile is not dismissive, it’s just an acknowledgment on my part that yes, I’ve heard them and no, they’re not going to force me to engage in something I don’t wish to. It’s the same as trying to talk to an unruly toddler.
Those occasions for me are rare. Most Christians I know are very nice people so why in turn should I not be nice in return? Just because they happen to believe in something I don’t is no cause for me to not be kind to them as a person.
It’s okay to be openly dismissive toward religion, but I think it doesn’t do atheists any good to be the same toward individual believers. We won’t change the world by being nice to every believer, but we might dispel the idea that atheists are angry.