A large majority of atheists I know in the US refuse to refer to themselves as atheist, only because of the social stigma attached to the word and I feel this is a shame; it's a valid point, but still a shame.
We are often subject to such unfair generalizations as being without morals, selfish and even evil, and are discriminated against in many parts of the US.
People are afraid to "come out" for fear losing their job, or if they own a business they fear great losses in profit. Some people fear the loss of loved ones, friends and family who would shun and ostracize them because of a sense of religious duty, others fear being berated or constantly preached at by those who demand we respect their religious choices, but wont respect ours.
These fears are justified, it is not uncommon for atheists to be discriminated against and judged by believers of all faiths, due mostly to a misunderstanding of the definition of the word, and being brought up in a religion that teaches that we are generally immoral, or even in extreme cases, that we are actively trying to destroy religious freedoms and religion itself.
It is only through patient education that we can hope to find acceptance, this is why some of us have banded together to "Reclaim the Name" to raise awareness on the strides atheist and other secular groups are taking to help others, and to educate people on the meaning of the word "atheist" in order to detach the stigma that has been attached to it and encourage a more accepting view of the atheist community as a whole.
Join us on facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reclaim-the-Name-Atheist-and-Proud/23... and become involved in this campaign by giving your input, ideas and sharing your personal coming out story, either in text or video and help us reclaim the name "atheist" from those who have twisted and distorted it to mean something dark and sinister.