“The word ‘atheist’ is a powerful word,” my friend Steve Sampson noted on his blog, Mindfully Gay. “People have strong reactions to the word. Many atheists have learned if they ‘come out of the closet’ they face a huge amount of negativity.
“If you’re a politician and you tell the world you’re an atheist, chances are you will be defeated, defeated badly.
“Atheists are not trusted. Many think there is no moral ground on which an atheist can stand. I believe the opposite. An atheist is ethical, is moral, because it is the proper way to live.
“An theist does not have to be bribed or threatened to be ethical. Most atheists have a better understanding of religions than many practitioners because they have studied a great deal before making the decision to follow common sense and not subjective belief. I know many atheists and they are all deeply intelligent people. They are people of thought and reason. They are people who hold the scientific method in high regard.
“In the end; at some point we (and that ‘we’ includes me) have to stop judging a person because of a belief or non-belief. Actions, words, friends, these describe a person,” Steve concluded.
And here’s my reply to Steve: “I prefer the term ‘freethinker,’ which implies that we're really talking about dogma, not deity. I’m not a non-theist any more than I am a non-unicornist. Defining yourself by what you DON’T believe is conceding unnecessary ground to the people pushing the other beliefs.”