A few weeks back, I removed “atheist” from most of my online descriptions. It remained on a few that I forgot, but was definitely off of my email signature. The reason was a disconnect I felt between myself and the Atheist movement.
The reason I feel disconnected is that I think of being an atheist like I think of the fact that I have blue eyes and brown hair. I’ve always been an atheist. The first time I used the word about myself I was nine years old. A sickly child when I first entered school, I missed a month of school in kindergarten and first grade each. Being home so much, I watched a lot of PBS educational TV and read a lot of books. One those books, was not the Bible. My parents never baptized and never introduced me to religion. I didn’t know the Ten Commandments existed until I was twelve years old. In fourth grade, a kid accidentally said “god darn it”, and immediately started apologizing. I thought he was kidding and laughed like it was a joke.
I’ve never felt discrimination from being an atheist, I didn’t have to come out as an atheist to my family, and I really don’t even know if people cared where I grew up. The modern atheist movement focuses on a lot of things that never applied to me, and almost feels like a parallel atheist movement to me. This is not disparaging what they do, I’m just saying how I feel.
So after thinking about it the last week, and coincidentally doing this on Easter (a holiday I didn’t know was religious in nature until maybe college). I added “atheist” back to all my descriptions, using a lower case ‘a’. I’m using the lower case letter on everything to denote I’m more about the ideas than any specific movement. I may never call myself “Atheist” but “atheist” will be just fine.