LGW, we don't agree on much, but we agree on this. Some of the best people I've known in life have been believers, and by "best", I mean, really walked the best meaning of their faith. I'm talking about Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews. The whole lot. People whose first response to others was, "What can I do to help?" Now, I've also known some really wonderful non-believers, but it almost seems as if they are more susceptible to the worst impulses of humanity: Objectivism, neoliberalism, and the faux-Libertarianism that is infecting current discourse. If you should encounter a really horrible person online, say on a forum or Twitter or something, chances are very good that they're atheists. Not because atheism made them that way, but because being horrible almost requires non-belief. While there are horrible people of faith (Family Research Council and Westboro Baptist Jackoffs, for example), they tend to stick out because they tend to make a spectacle of themselves.
This is anecdotal evidence at best. All of us have met good people who are religious, and good people who are not, and good people who are in between. Since, by your own admission, good people are often those who do not proselytize and since you would have to know lots of good people very well indeed to know what really goes on in their head, your feeling that there is a difference in the probability distribution of good vs evil actions across faiths and between faiths and the lack of any faith is just that -- a feeling. It is also one that would be very difficult to turn into valid statistics (as people lie about their religious belief pretty regularly and will do so as long as our society maintains its "atheism penalty". Talk to me the day they take "In God We Trust" off of our currency and we elect a president who openly ADMITS to being an atheist (we've had a number who were deist or atheist in the past -- Jefferson was the former, Abraham Lincoln comes to mind as the latter -- but they had to hide it and lie in order to be elected).
Humans can be "good" or "bad", according to some standard establishing goodness and badness -- a thing, by the way, that Plato/Socrates wouldn't touch with a ten foot stick and something that NOBODY seems to quite be able to agree on, because the scriptures -- of all religions -- are full of direct ethical contradictions and because belief obstructs the development of a common rational ethos for human society. In the Abrahamic faiths, God is a Dick. In the old testament, God legalizes beating slaves ALMOST to death (and slavery which goes without saying), marriage by rape plus 30 shekels, beating almost anyone to death who breaks any of a good sized pile of silly rules -- including your own children. God commands one of the earliest semi-legendary acts of genocide, compelling Moses to slaughter the entire Midianite population, men, women and children down to babies in arms, but gives the young virgin females among the Midianite captives to his troop to rape and enslave. Then there are several pages describing the looting of the Midianites and how much of it Moses and his priesthood ended up with. Thanks, God!
But nobody ever reads the Bible, or (it seems) the Quran, or the Book of Mormon. At best they listen to a few carefully selected passages read out loud to them by their preacher on Sunday, who cherrypicks them and then explains them to conform to their own personal vision of good versus evil. And this goes for the new testament as well. There is a lovely scene where Jesus, feeling expansive in his Godhood, is in a tavern with his cronies and a Gentile woman comes up to ask for a miracle. Jesus calls her a dog, looking for scraps from a table set for the Jews, but then humors her and grants her a miracle anyway. Jesus is called good master by a supplicant and rounds on them and says (paraphrased) "Why do you call me good? There is no one that is good but God." admitting on one sentence that he is neither God nor Good. He curses a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season. And he confesses to his disciples that he preaches in parables so that most of those listening will not understand and will end up in hell. Thanks, Jesus! And we do not want to even touch the Quran -- a horrible, violent book IF you ever read it that starts up where the Old Testament leaves off, or The Book of Mormon, also known as the first completely American work of Science Fiction in the genre of "let's invent a religion" also favored by L. Ron Hubbard and R. A. Heinlein.
Abrahamic religious people are good IN SPITE of the scriptures, not because of them.
But this is in some sense irrelevant to the most important point, which you completely avoid.
There is no good reason to think that any of these religions are true.
Forget ethical ambiguity and the ability to twist scriptures to support any end. Forget the fact that the mythologies they lay out, far from "supporting" science, has been directly contradicted by nearly everything we've learned from science. Forget the simple fact that there are so MANY religions, most of which literally extort belief and compliance with the priesthood, loaded with some good reward if you are compliant and some horrendous punishment if you aren't (where "compliance" to the wishes of the priesthood is more important than actually being GOOD if one wishes to establish a religious hegemony, and religious hegemonies are by far the superorganisms capable of surviving in competition with the other religious superorganisms, with a handful of exceptions such as the Quakers).
The fundamental problem with religion is that there is no evidence that God exists. There is substantially less evidence that God exists and is correctly captured in any specific religion. It is literally extremely improbable that God exists (in the absence of evidence) and if God DOES exist, It exists in a relationship with the Universe that makes God invisible, indistinguishable from the Universe's apparently normal functioning. There absolutely is no evidence of divine perfect justice, posthumous heavenly reward or hellish retribution, or evidence of miracles worth of being called evidence. God never heals amputees (although humans just for the first time healed a long term amputee at Duke Hospital, just as humans are non-miraculously restoring sight to the blind, feeding the hungry, and doing all of the things Jesus supposedly did with magic, only without magic, reproducibly, and in a delivery system that can actually reach everybody whether or not they "believe"). You say atheists are differentially less ethical than believers, where most believers are just N-1 atheists compared to N atheists. N atheists reject all N proposed religious systems and portrayals of an invisible superentity that created the Universe and cares deeply about whether or not a woman exposes a nipple in public. N-1 atheists reject all of those religions but one, and guess what! It is almost always the one they are raised in, usually with a mix of threats and rewards.
Here's the catch. Believing in things that are not true warps human judgement. This is why jury selection is so difficult. It is why building a fair system of justice and courts is so difficult. It is what makes science so difficult -- there are ERRORS in our scientific beliefs. We know they are there, but WHILE they are there they distort our ability to further develop scientific theory and it isn't until we find definitive evidence that they are incorrect (ideally in the company with a new belief/theory that better explains the evidence and makes predictions that are confirmed in new evidence) that we make progress.
In science, we have an imperfect but fairly functional procedure for subjecting ALL of our beliefs -- which are never more than PROVISIONAL truths in properly done science -- to eternal skepticism and re-proof. We are continually taking it apart and rebuilding it so that it works anywhere from just a bit better to explain "everything" to a whole lot better all at once, especially when a new principle is discovered or a major error is rectified.
There is no such process in most religions. Quakers are again a notable exception -- quakers are actually comfortable with atheists as members of their meetings because they DO value individual judgement and openly acknowledge that their moral/ethical belief is better guided by individual natural goodness than by scripture per se. But MOST religions have an anti-tampering meme, one that openly prohibits tinkering with its scriptural guts by establishing them as perfect truth. They literally command people not to think about them too hard, to accept them the way a child accepts Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy (on far better evidence, BTW, even though the evidence is faked by the parents -- at least to the CHILD presents or coins "magically" appear). The Apostles (apparently) used to HATE preaching in Greece, because the Greeks had this silly tendency to believe mostly in things that make sense instead of believing any wild thing that they were told about opening tombs and magically healing blindness by rubbing spit and mud into somebody's eye. Not that they too didn't have religion, but their religion was (like Hinduism, to a large extent) a mythology that they RECOGNIZED was a mythology whose primary purpose was to make a society hang together and provide a moral reference frame for the young and stupid who otherwise would be easily turned to antisocial activities like seeking social and economic advancement.
Which, incidentally, is precisely the demographic targeted by the Christian cult in Rome, although it only made the big time after the corrupt deal with Constantine that made it the state religion (on pain of death and suffering if you refused to accept it).
That's the scary thing about the top article. It's still the de facto state religion for roughly half of the Earth including (especially) the United States. There are (at least) 1.2 trillion dollars of the US economy caught up in vigorously promoting a proposition that any child can see is almost certainly false (or could if they weren't being vigorously brainwashed into believing in magical invisible perfect justice and miracles that happen but only if you pray just right, never mind all of the bad things that happen to people that's just evidence that they didn't really believe with all of their hearts because that's what Jesus said if we have enough faith we can move mountains). Christianity appealed to the slaves of Rome because it promised paradise when you die, making them compliant in life. Christianity was taught to black slaves in the US some 1500 years later, where it accomplished almost exactly the same thing.
We worry (rightly) about the political power being wielded by the super-wealthy and super-corporations. However, it is DWARFED by the political power of religious believers, who routinely ignore the constitutional amendment that is supposed to rein it in. That's why elected officials have to pretend piety (or really be pious, giving them the benefit of a backhanded doubt) -- otherwise they have nearly zero chance of being elected, and once elected they are OBLIGATED to pass non-constitutional laws pandering to the religion they either believe in or pretended to believe in to get elected. Democracy is often the tyranny of the majority, held weakly in check by the bill of rights, and when those rights are ignored we are all forced to be "Christians" whether we like it or not.
The consequence? In God We Trust on our currency, in spite of an amendment that specifically prohibits this. No alcohol sold on Sunday Morning in NC in spite of the fact that Sunday is just another day to anybody but a Christian, and the state is not supposed to pass laws supporting religions at all, let alone specific religions. The entire debate about abortion. But it isn't just about the US. What about ISIS? What about Christian Zionists? What about the eternal debate on homosexuality, which is PURELY religious as there is no rational reason to give a damn otherwise? What about Muslims vs Muslims, Sunni vs Shia wars in perpetuity. Hindus vs Muslims. Muslims vs Jews. Christians vs Jews. Christians vs Muslims (for most of the last 1400 years). Christians vs the entire indigenous population of the Americas, but most horrendously the Catholics vs the Central and South American natives (with honorable mention on the atrocity scale for Protestants vs the North American variety in the 18th and 19th and part of the 20th century). The assertion that the evil done by religion is more than balanced by the good is, historically, more than a bit dubious. The best one can say is that it has been a major historical force for good AND evil, but that whatever it has been, there is no evidence for God's existence and believing in something -- especially something so important, so influential on our life choices and political choices -- without evidence is absurd.
As Voltaire pointed out, it is a small step from believing an absurdity to committing an atrocity.
So sure, there are non-rabid, non-violent, lovely Muslims, Muslims who might be offended if you wear a tee shirt with Mohammed portrayed on it but who wouldn't beat you to death in the street or blow themselves up in front of your house to kill you and all of your family too. There are Christians who really do walk the walk not of the Christ portrayed inconsistently in the New Testament, but of a Christ they make up in their own minds by taking their INTUITIVE idea of good and anthropomorphizing it while eliding all the bits of the NT that don't conform with this independent vision. There are male Hindus who are lovely people and who treat women as equals and non-Hindus with respect. And I'm sure there are bad atheists, atheists who are perceived as being butts because they actually speak out and point out that the Emperor Has No Clothes. Who likes being told that something they were raised to believe without question is questionable? Who doesn't remember almost to the day when they learned that Santa and the Tooth Fairy were make-believe and that people you trusted played you for a (very young) fool and thereby embarrassed you in front of your peers who figured it out a bit earlier than you did? Maybe the atheist who actively opposes world religions is trying to save the world, you never know, at the EXPENSE of being thought a butt for pointing out the implicit harm in false belief, as I am doing now.
Maybe as the 20th century was historically the end of the reign of kings, perhaps the 21st century will bring about the historical end of religious mythology as a dominant force in human society so that all of the violent religious conflicts listed above can evaporate into a world of compassion and tolerance. One can only hope.
But either way, these good PEOPLE or bad PEOPLE -- by whatever standard of goodness or badness you are prepared to lay out and defend -- are not proof that any of these religions are CORRECT, and believing something that is false will ALWAYS make one susceptible to irrational action, vulnerable to manipulation, one small step from committing an atrocity in the name of an imaginary God.