A few years ago I, very deliberately and considerately, made the jump from agnosticism to atheism. It wasn't the easiest jump to make -- not in the United States (probably not in other places, either). I was raised in a Protestant family. I attended Catholic schools. I went to Sunday School at a local Congregational Church -- I was confirmed at this same church. Like the Reverends at my college, I often still call ML one of my spiritual advisors. I often seek out him, KB, and SW when I'm in need of love. I've always felt comfortable, hopefully always will -- hopefully they'll always let me -- ask most any question I can think of regarding whatever questions arise about my world views.
What's interesting to me -- and a bit irritating/infuriating -- is that so many people in this country, in the world -- believe/portray atheists as heathens and evil. Here's the thing: I don't think I'm evil. I'm not a danger to anyone, but myself. I like to think I live my life full of love and tolerance. I don't have much intolerance for anyone, except for those who perpetuate violence and hate. Yet there are so many, particularly those who claim to be strong/staunch/believers in their God's power, who end up abusing kids, abusing members of other faiths, abusing other races, abusing others period. There are some who will do worse than that all in the name of their God. I'm not saying those who have a Judeo-Christian or monotheistic faith-based system are automatically going to do these things, but you also shouldn't say that atheists are going to do these things because they're (we're) heathens and don't believe.
I find this close from my personal post regarding my atheist "coming out" just as fitting today as I did two years ago:
It is with a slight degree of trepidation, but a greater degree of defiance, that I stand before you in this digital space and come out as an atheist. I choose not to seek comfort in a being that can indiscriminately strike the good with what should only strike the bad. This doesn't mean I'm going to confront Christians, Muslims, Hindis or any other person of faith. While I may not believe in "God," while I may not believe in Jesus as Savior, I know many do. I believe we should love our neighbor as ourselves, that we should treat others as we want to be treated. And that we should all seek comfort how and where we need to, but don't talk to me about how things happen for a reason, don't talk to me about how you're going to pray for me, don't talk to me about how Jesus saves. If that were the case I'd have a whole lot more of my loved ones around me right now.
I have enough devils to fight without taking on cultural and scriptural devils.