A lot of the more reasonable Buddhists I've met were only marginally Buddhist, or "culturally Buddhist". Like secular Judaism, you know? As with any religion, the more fervent the believers, the more likely they are to be crazy.
I did a post on this a while ago, which you might find of interest:
This is a particularly interesting subject for me because I was raised Buddhist. In fact, I sometimes still tell people that I'm a Buddhist when asked of my religion. It's stupid, I know, but in this part of the world "Buddhist" only meant neither Christian nor Muslim. A lot of Buddhists I know are, as Kacie put it, "culturally Buddhist", most of them barely have a vague idea of what Buddhism actually is. Do I think that Buddhism is better than other religions? Definitely not, like any religion it's still got a lot of the supernatural elements like life after death, reincarnation, karma, spirits and souls that I'm really uncomfortable about. But I have to say that, unfortunately, I've still got a soft spot for Buddhism, even if it was for sentimental reasons. I really do believe that being brought up as a Buddhist has made it easier for me to accept my atheism. For once, I never had to worry about burning in hell because Buddhists don't believe that people go to hell for what they believe in, only for what they do. But no, as a former "serious" Buddhist, I say that Buddhism is definitely NOT a science, far from it. And it deserves the same criticism that other religions do.
Bluegreen, thanks for the personal insight into being Buddhist.
Jeremy, Oh my goodness, yes. I have had such experiences as you describe. I figure if the topic comes up, it is my obligation to stand on principle and express my thinking, just as it is necessary to listen to their point of view and respond with a counter-argument if indicated. If they stay civil, I can out-civil their demeanor; if they become aggressive, I can be forceful without being aggressive. The reality is, if I state my position, I am perceived as aggressive.
So, that leads me to think about what an appropriate response would be. There is no appropriate response ... another's aggression says more about them than me and I continue to have an obligation to express my opinion.
I am not on this Earth to please others; I exist to think, reason, explore, experiment, express, stand on my best judgment.
As to Buddhism, I found the teachings to be helpful to manage my anxiety, however, when I meet Buddhists I find they can be as superstitious as those who are religious. I don't think Buddhism is a religion even as it is practiced as though it were. Finding tools for peace, equanimity, serenity, calm, etc., are valuable to me. I have no interest in converting anyone to my way of thinking; I do have an interest in getting my thoughts out into the ether for others to hear. I do have an interest in hearing what others have to say; I do not have an interest in agreeing just to make peace. That kind of peace is too expensive.
Modern Japanese art;