This is really obvious if you think about it (I’m just slow on the uptake I guess). As people are exposed to more science and rational ways of thinking about the world the strong faith-based believers become more and more worried that people will stop participating in their religion. This causes them to become more and more vocal and extreme to get people to “stay on message” which, in turn, drives more and more people away. If you think about it the best way to get someone to get someone to carry on in an irrational manner is to mention it to them as little as possible.
The hard end of the wedge here is of course terrorism but even just increased shouted rhetoric drives most people away just leaving the really unstable people to eventually turn in on each other.
Maybe it’s just the blogs I read but there seems to be a lot of anti relgious feeling going on at the moment:
Scientists condem teaching Creationism – remember the Dover Trial?
Teachers unions in the UK want and end to state school funding of religious schools.
US Christian Coalition flounders – this the organisation that has probably influenced the American government more than any other in the last 8 years (expect maybe for Enron).