I concur that religion is not harmless. The religious wars throughout history demonstrate that religious disputes can bring death.
Irrationality deserves no respect. It is corrosive and dangerous and deserving of opposition. People may earn respect, but that respect is by no means automatic. In my case and many others, said respect is contingent on reflexive respect for me and my right to hold the positions that I do.
I understand that there are consequences to subscribing to atheism in an environment such as that currently present in the United States. Believers should understand that there are also consequences for irrational belief when that irrationality has the deleterious impact that it clearly does. Mostly, they don't see that impact because they choose not to look for it or at it. A substantial part of our job is to point it out to them, provide a wake-up call, and let them know there is more than one opinion present.
A worthy or progressive idea may deserve respect. Irrationality is neither and deserves none.