I win the battle on whether we should use the term atheist to describe ourselves
There has been a battle amongst non-believers, non-theists, secularists, brights, humanists, atheists, non-religious, agnostics, skeptics, and the non-religious for quite some time in this country. How many different names was that to describe someone that almost always is without a belief in a god? I probably missed a few, in fact feel free to mention them and I'll add them in. The battle is a pointless one that only serves to divide us, disparage us, and hurt us. Instead of one minority, we are now 10 smaller minorities with less power. Anyone avoiding usage of the word atheist is allowing the theist to win.
Growing up I was told by my born again Christian mother that atheists are devil worshippers, that they know for sure no god exists, and that they are arrogant fools who hate god (yes I know the contradictions there now). It's been about 12 years since I was led down the path from agnostic deist to agnostic by Jake. After I abandoned my deism as a result of his arguments I felt as if I was sure I wasn't an atheist because I had such a negative stigma attached to the word, and also didn't claim to know for sure that a god didn't exist, as my Christtarded mother once claimed all atheists do. Jake then showed me the truth of how atheism is defined. When I learned that I was being duped by religious people as to how atheism is defined I chose to accept the term atheism within an hour of internal deliberation. I promise you, it was a hard hour.
As I continued my journey over the years into the god defeating activist you have grown to love, I've seen the development of these terms to define atheists without using the word atheist. These terms are almost always a way to dodge usage of the word: atheist. Why is it Mr. Humanist that you can recognize religion is bunk, sometimes even speak out against it, yet fall over in defeat when Christians have chosen to affix a bad connotation to the word that best describes your position on god belief? Don't let me take away your humanism, I know the arguments well. Humanism puts forward things you do believe in, atheism is merely the word that describes what you don't believe. I even consider myself part of every single one of the bolded words I opened with. Don't give me that "I'm not a negative person" routine, I know well that many people avoiding the term atheist are doing so because they don't want the bad connotation applied to them. I've heard this response many times when arguing this issue.
There are two massive problems with succumbing to those who seek to attach a false definition or negative stigma to the word atheist.
1. We have allowed those bastardizing the term atheist to segregate us.
It's become hard to determine just how many atheists exist in the world as a result of the various terminologies. We've had problems fighting off faith based funding, and haven't been able to get contrary non-belief funding. We hold less power than if we all just stood by this term, and addressed it when questioned or given a false definition for it. As a result of bowing down to their whim we've refocused our own energy on dividing ourselves instead of focusing energy on correcting incorrect terminology. Had we been fighting the battle rather than giving up, we'd have had a shot today, instead we have a second problem now, one I always saw coming...
2. It's not the term atheist they don't like, it's anyone who doesn't hold a belief in their god.
So you've dodged the term atheist, good for you. Now what? Now that you're a Humanist or a Skeptic, tell the Christian what you believe. If the theist manages to read between the lines and figure out that embedded in your Humanism is a lack of god belief, they're just as likely to affix a negative stigma to your beliefs. They're not on a mission to disparage atheism, they are on a mission to disparage anything that isn't their form of theism. Once they realize you're not with them, then you're against them. The day the term bright was created was the day I knew it would someday have a horrible stigma attached to it. Of course it was created in part to duck the negative stigma associate with atheism.
Now what do you do? Do you abandon your humanism? If you don't then one must wonder why you abandoned the term atheist. If you do, at least we're certain now, you are a coward. As you can see from the sign outside the Seagate Community Chapel in North Carolina, they figured you out. They know what you are now, and they are working their smear campaign. Let the memes begin! And to that end over the last two years I noticed many Christian sources affixing negative connotations to brights, skeptics, and humanists. Some of those examples were pointed out on this site in discussions of this issue. The information I've provided in this post isn't much different than the points I've argued on this topic for years. At that point however I didn't have a picture of a Church misrepresenting the name of the peaceful passive humanists. Well look where the passiveness got ya. Welcome to false definition-ville.
Ready to embrace the word that defines anyone who is without a belief in a god yet? If we embrace it together and respond to false claims wherever they exist, we can help slowly to correct a dishonest/ignorant theist population, and maybe if we're lucky we'll even be counted.
Until next time, stay rational.