This article addresses the development of attitudes toward religion and identity formation among “active” atheists—that is, those who participate in atheist activism or are members of atheist communities or organizations. It presents interview research that illustrates heterogeneity in the trajectories by which individuals arrive at an atheist identity, and argues that we might understand atheist identity development as a process of “discovery” in three senses: discovery of ideas, self-discovery, and discovery of the collective. This last sense of discovery refers to the atheist movement, which encourages participation by constructing a positive collective identity that individual atheists can draw on in constructing their own sense of self. The collective and social movement aspects of atheism are crucial to our understanding of individual atheist identity formation.
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