I have quite frequently complained about the bigotry of atheist writers who make "derogatory overgeneralizations" about religion - taking denigrating facts about some small segment of theists and applying them to all theists in order to promote a hatred of theism in general.
There is, however, a similar form of bigotry that I have not written about, but which involves roughly the same type of thinking.
This involves making complimentary overgeneralizations - to speak about all theists in positive terms.
At a basic level, this represents the very same evil as the bigotry that I expressed earlier. While the former has the effect of tarnishing theists who are not guilty of the wrongdoings assigned with the stain of actions they did not commit, the latter compliments those who are guilty by painting them in glowing colors they do not deserve.
I am referring to comments such as this:
So far I hope the general public is waking up to two ideas. First, that Catholicism is a beautiful religion with, at its core, the idea that we should all love and help each other, and although there is deep disagreement within its ranks about a few core issues, these – in time – will be resolved.
(See: Ed West, Papal visit: Romophobes, atheist extremism and Nazis)
The fact is that "Catholicism" represents a wide range of beliefs - and some of them are quite despicable. Far from being a "beautiful religion" is it a cornerstone for lessons on bigotry and hatred, and for the teaching of ideals that lead to widespread death and destruction.
Some Catholics are decent people. Some are hate-mongering bigots or advocates of a religious primitivism that still carries echoes of the Dark Ages.
If it is wrong for an atheist to take the evils of the latter sort and paint all Catholics with that brush - effectively making the bigoted assumption that all Catholics are alike, it is equally wrong to theists to take the goods of the former sort and paint all Catholics with that brush.
Catholicism is not "a beautiful religion". It is a spectrum of religions - and some of (but not all) of the elements of that spectrum are quite putrid.
To refuse to acknowledge that fact is to fail to correct those failings - to allow the evil to hide behind the skirts of the good, and to use the good as a shield for deflecting much deserved criticism.
"How dare you criticize me. I am religious - just like them! That, alone, should be enough to protect me from your wrath."
Because of its ability to hide evils that should be confronted and eliminated, complimentary overgeneralizations are no less bigoted, in their own way, than derogatory overgeneralizations.
The proper trick to use in both of these cases is to speak specifically, of the specific claims and actions of specific people, and to resist the urge both for complimentary and for derogatory overgeneralizations and for the evils that either find protection or promotion by these two forms of rhetorc.