Why is this happening? I think there are two main reasons. Firstly, the automatic deference that was once shown to religious leaders like the Pope is dying out. This really enrages many of the faithful. The fact that we non-religious types have the effrontery not to bend the knee to the likes of Benedict is one cause of the howls of outrage. Some religionists see this as an 'attack on religion' in itself but clearly it isn't. The second reason is much more significant - religion is dying. I'm not for one moment suggesting that religions are finished or that there won't continue to be a significant number of religious people on the planet. The fact is that a majority of people in society are either not religious or not strongly religious. There are many people who like the idea of there being a god but who don't want to go to attend religious services or get involved with any church.
In historical terms, until fairly recently a large section of the population in Europe were Christians because they had to be. They had no choice. We lived in a Christian totalitarian society, like Islam still is in countries such as Iran. When people are given a free choice, a large number choose not to be religious. As religions decline the remaining religionists become ever more extreme and ever more shrill in their denunciation of the non-religious, and as they become more extreme they will continue to alienate people and accelerate their own decline. Amen to that.