I think we are all familiar with the I'm not a non-golfer argument. I can not identify with what I am not. I do not play golf, so a non-golfer is not part of my identity. This does appear to be a reasonable argument.
This reasoning did in fact apply to me before I came out of the atheist closet. Once I had to come out due to my son being sent to the principles office for stating he was an atheist, things changed. Now every day I have to defend my position of not believing in god. It is a daily routine locally with friends or in public. Now I promote the idea that atheism is a rational normal position on the internet so that it will be easier for others to come out.
This means constant study and research. I actively think about atheism more than ever as I am constantly in discussions concerning Christian history and in places that Christians frequent. As a result I am obviously pinned as "The Atheist". This is not because anything has changed for me in the last 20 years. It is other peoples perception of me that has changed. As a result I am seen as not one of them, rather as a person whom holds fringe beliefs that is different. I am separated by the fact that I simply do not hold to the beliefs of the majority.
A black sheep does not care that it is black, for that matter neither do the other sheep. It is people that care and make the distinction and perceive that sheep to be different. It is thus, externally labeled "the black sheep" and becomes known as such even though it is complete unaware of it.
I am completely aware of being "the black sheep" as an atheist. The difference is now I own the idea. I have been forced to invest much time and energy into the defense of not believing. I really have not problem with accepting that as I am not a believer of God I am something else. If there was no social pressure there would be no reason to even think about not believing in god, but that is not the case.
So where does that leave me? I could make the argument that I can not posses an identity of what I am not if I wished, But that is not the case. I am not a part of the majority sheepeople. I am different because I do not hold to actually believing that I should live my life according to mythology.
I am an ATHEIST. I do not believe there is a god. It is and has become part of who I am and what I am. It is now part of my identity. I can not be what I am not, but in a country with a majority of Christians what I am not, has become the definition of what I am.
Honestly, I believe this debate detracts from more important issues and is petty. I think that is the reason It has ate on me so much that I felt the need to address the issue at all.
What are your thoughts on the issue? Is it a petty conversation to have in the first place? Does owning the identity of atheist confuse theist? Why has the issue even come up?
Your thoughts are very much appreciated.