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Those outside of traditional religious categories are not immune to overloading of our common labels for ways of seeing the world. I am reminded of Ann Rice's explanation for her "leaving Christianity," which essentially amounted to no religious or theological change in herself but rather a rejection of, in her words, the "quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group" that lays claim to the label Christianity.

So what of the "quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group" that has latched on to the atheist label like a rabid pitbull? What place is there for the thoughtful, "spiritual", humble, amiable nonbeliever?

The religion of bigotry, misogyny, exclusion, and oppression that goes by the name Christianity is as far from the religion practiced by millions of Christians as "radical Islam" (a problematic label itself) is from the religion of any of my Muslim friends and as the obnoxious (and mislabelled) "New Atheism" is from my thoughtful a-religious friends.

There is power to be had by defining away undersirables from communities built around shared belief or nonbelief. As long as this is true the intellectually independent will never belong anywhere.