We secular types love playing with our descriptors. When I first acknowledged myself as a nonbeliever and then later got more serious about it, deciding to become active in the secular community, I played around with what to call myself.
I was reading classic and more modern freethought and atheist literature and looking into different philosophies and approaches. I tried out “Humanist,” “Secular Humanist,” “Freethinker,” “Naturalist,” “Metaphysical Naturalist,” “Materialist,” and a few others. Many of these I still use as descriptors of part or all of my epistemology or some other facet of my worldview or approach to things.
I went with “atheist” in large part because when I used one of these other words, if someone asked me what I meant by it (and they did), then the “a” word tumbled outta my mouth anyway. So I started going with it up front and I’m glad I did. “Atheist” is an honest, straightforward term I always feel comfortable with, one that fits my viewpoint and personality without equivocation. I can start with atheist and build from there.
“Atheist” describes my approach to religious belief. I also use “antitheist,” and some of the labels listed above plus a few others to describe myself at different times for different purposes. I like to use “godless,” now and again, like on this blog. When I use godless I mean more by it than just atheist, though atheism is a big part of it. I’ll write about that some other time(s).