There are have been many attempts to label the secular community and its members. I use the words "community" and "members" advisedly, since many take pride in being noncommunal and nonmembers of anything.
"a" indicates contra. from etymonline.com, atheist indicates "1570s, from French athéiste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-)."
It is true sometimes I feel the need to assert my disagreement with the existence of any and all gods, since there is not evidence for such creatures or beings, and because aligning myself with those who claim to have such beliefs, or who actually have such beliefs, seems harmful to me and to others.
But most of the time I think, emote, make decisions, analyze, digest, construct, putter away, without any thoughts of gods. Many have argued that being Atheist is sort of like being an Aphilatelist - I don't collect stamps, but I don't worry about identifying myself as someone who does not collect stamps. That's a bit disingenuous, because societies are not build on philately, wars are not fought over it, and philatelists dont hack aphilatelists to death for their aphilately. Theism, on the other hand, is something that societies are built on, and wars are fought over it, and certain theists do hack atheists, or nontheists, to death over apostasy.
(Image is Robert Green Ingersoll. All images are via public domain searches)
The word secular, on the other hand, has some appealing characteristics, that better define my thoughts. From Merriam-webster.com, "
Full Definition of SECULAR
1a : of or relating to the worldly or temporal <secular concerns>
b : not overtly or specifically religious <secular music>
c : not ecclesiastical or clerical <secular courts> <secular landowners>
2 : not bound by monastic vows or rules; specifically : of, relating to, or forming clergy not belonging to a religious order or congregation <a secular priest>
3a : occurring once in an age or a century
b : existing or continuing through ages or centuries
c : of or relating to a long term of indefinite duration
I am wordly - in other words, of this world, not of another world. Of this existence, of this consciousness, not metaphysical. My philosophy refers to the temporal. I am not bound by monastic views, and I don't belong to a religious order or congregation.
Origin of SECULAR (same link)
Middle English, from Anglo-French seculer, from Late Latin saecularis, from saeculum the present world, from Latin, generation, age, century, world; akin to Welsh hoedl lifetime
I like using the word secular, because it is more descriptive that my mind is concerned with what IS, and only secondarily with what is NOT. I am in the present world, I am of this age, living in this lifetime.
Many religious people and organizations - or dis-organizations, in some cases - really define themselves by excluding others. They define us/them dichotomies, and they they commit violence against nonmembers, they clearly show "anti" behaviors. In many cases, their expressed desire is to do away with any thoughts of independence from their religious rules, thought control, obedience, bowing to the demagogues. Those religious people are not "pro" anything, because their gods don't exist. You can't be "pro" nothingness. So it is the religious people who are defined in opposition to the secular. They are antisecularists.
I am secular. I am many other things, but I do not allow religious habits of thought, or religious thinkers to define me. It is not their choice. I am of this world, this lifetime, and exist now. No neologism is required. "No anti" is required, except when I am thinking "anti" thoughts or doing "anti" things. There is no loss, no need for "contra" or "a" - theist, except for ease of use. Not for self definition. I take my own name, not the name others give me.
Today a coworker shared with me, he's been gradually moving from agnostic to atheist. He thinks he is atheist now. I told him, I'm about as atheist as a person can be. I expressed the thought here, that in a world where people divide themselves based on words and labels, and given what term most accurately expresses what I think, I state that I am secular. I do not shy away from the word "atheist" and am damn proud to be one, but I do not want to describe myself entirely as "anti" something (anti theist), when I am wholly "pro" reason, science, evidence, critical thinking, workplace nondiscrimination, and separation of church and state.
Secular is good...but it all depends on the mood I'm in, and who I'm talking / writing to. Sometimes I want to give someone a jolt....then I say "atheist."
I also use "atheist when I'm filling out some kind of identification form... in the admitting office in the only hospital in town (Catholic). To make SURE no effing chaplain pays a call when I don't want to see anyone. Same thing when I got my MedicAlert bracelet. It's not ON the bracelet, but if I need an EMT, and can't talk, they will call the 800 number, and they will KNOW that I don't appreciate prayers, even if they are well-meant.
I am bitchy when I'm sick, or hurting.