Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that there have been a large number of internal conflicts. For the most part, this has saddened me.
However, as Adam Lee has recently pointed out, it might not be altogether bad that these sorts of internal struggles have started. In his article "Atheism’s growing pains", which appeared in Saturday's edition of Salon, he argues that this divisive turn is necessary for the atheist movement to define itself as a cohesive political player:
In the last decade, atheism in America has risen from a tiny, demonized fringe to a serious presence in the public and political arenas... As the atheist movement gains numbers and prominence, it’s inevitably been forced to confront questions about what it ultimately seeks to accomplish. Some in the movement favor a narrowly defined set of goals: defending the separation of church and state, keeping creationism out of science classes, protecting atheists from job discrimination and prejudice. But other atheists, while not opposing these goals, see things more broadly. They note that the religious-right lawmakers who promote creationism and state-church entanglements are also rabidly opposed to equality or legal protection for LGBT people; try to ban abortion and contraception, or throw obstacles in the path of women seeking them; sermonize that global warming must be a hoax because God wouldn’t let the planet change that much; advocate a social-Darwinian worldview where the rich have unlimited power and the poor get nothing but societal neglect and harsh repression... there’s a growing recognition that we have problems within our own community — a realization that atheists, like every other group of people, include sexual predators, bigots and defenders of privilege, and that giving up religion doesn’t necessarily erase these harmful attitudes.