This is the dividing opinion of methodologies that will never be agreed upon. Those who see atemi or using aggression as necessary and those who see it as simply violence. Both sides have to agree to allow each side to exist. Some people want more of a martial attribute to their Aikido. Atemi and it's application are tremendously important for those. Those who want a philosophical/religious approach to Aikido, will want the "strike free approach." The world (America for most of us) is a place of aggression. I would never practice Aikido if it were purely a religious, philosophical attribute. I have a religious foundation, so Aikido for me is purely self defense and finding out about my own physical development . Others will want Aikido for other reasons.
I may be reading this wrong, and I apologize if I am, but it seems as if you DENY the philosophical side of Aikido just because you have religious background? If this is true that would seem counter to any martial art, as they all have a philosophical side to them, any true budo at least. Heck even when I trained in Muay Thai there was a philosophical aspect to it, without which it would just be violence.
Again, I could be mistaken, but this is how I interpreted it. Damn internet! lol.