I tried to think of a way to phrase it so it wouldn't exclude the faithful, but eh, they'll find some way to join in.
I was thinking about this a day or so ago. There's a big skeptical event coming up in my hometown in November with famous guests, and I attended two years ago but had a lousy time mostly due to my own emotional issues. Last year, I decided to go to a completely unrelated event, scheduled the same weekend, which promised to be more fun. It was; I'm going back this year, and once again blowing off the local skeptics and their famous guests.
I actually do feel the same kind of way I used to feel when I'd skip church - like I'm opting out of the healthy, whole-wheat choice and indulging in junk food instead. It's not so cut and dried in this case, mostly because I'm still wrapping my head around the idea that it's perfectly okay to not attend group meetings if I don't feel like it. Yet I still feel that twinge. In this case, and I'm bracing for the blowback here, atheism does feel a little bit like a faith, a faith that one can betray by lack of support. Clearly, I'm not supporting them if I can't even be bothered to show up.
How can I avoid this patently absurd conclusion? Now that I've reclaimed my life from theism, why do I feel like I owe anything to the lack of the same? When does that feeling go away... or, does it?
There's no need whatsoever to transfer any of the baggage of religion, or the feelings associated with it, to your atheist position.
Remember, the atheist position has no demands of faithfulness, and instead brings complete freedom of expression, movement, and thought. Common sense combined with a healthy balance of personal desires and responsibility to the general health of the community you live in, should rule the day.
A person who understands the atheist position, understands that there is no guilt associated with it. This remnant of religious style guilt that you're putting yourself through is easily disposed of by wiping that part of the slate clean in your mind:-- just like you did with most other things associated with the god delusion.
Now, if you're having these feelings partly because you have a degree of activism in you, then that's another matter and of course a good thing. We definitely need to be open about our position and there should be no hypocrisy or denial. But you should not allow any outside pressure or selfinduced guilt-trips to influence how you approach your atheist position. If you want to "feel" anything at all, then make it a feeling of appreciation for your new position, and instead of a feeling of guilt, turn that feeling into a conviction that activism is worth it and that you'll participate when time and circumstances enable you to.
Atheist activism certainly is needed now more than ever. Much more would be accomplished if all
atheists would be active to a certain degree (and perhaps even to the point that they are stretched a bit) and supportive in the various battles that exist between religion and society and it's impact on policy and government.......The odd atheist may chastise you and say ""You're damn straight you should feel guilty you lazy twit !! Look ! if we're going to eliminate the effects of religion and the god idea, then you better get the fuck to that conference and learn a few things and get organised and prepared so we can win this god damned fight !!!!!""......That may work on some, but it certainly wouldn't be my approach to you.
When you think about it:-- what could be more amazing, and worth talking about, and worth supporting, and worth being jacked up about, than being in a position that allows one to refute a poisonous delusion and
allows you to be free and have shit loads of fun and debauchery at the same time ?!!
Go have your fun