I am troubled to know that you have faced discrimination for being an atheist. I empathize in a way, because where I am living right now, I am commonly discriminated against for being a Christian. While it might not be on exactly the same level, I think the anti-Christian sentiment in America is rapidly growing. Ideally, neither Christians nor atheists would feel the need to attack anyone for their beliefs as long as nobody was being harmed.
It is possible to exist in harmony. Of my best friends, all but a few are atheists, and of those who are not atheists, I think one might be a Satanist. My being a Christian is something they all tolerate, just as I tolerate their freedom to make their own spiritual choices. With mutual respect, we maintain our loving connections, and while we may engage in debates sometimes, these are always undertaken with an attitude of placing the friendship first.
However, despite my certainty that religious freedom is important in order for peace to exist, many people assume that being a Christian means having a huge list of negative qualities that make a person deserve disrespect, including but not limited to the following:
1. We are accused of irrationality. It is often assumed that all Christians are opposed to science/logic/truth. The religion vs. science conflict is based on a false dichotomy. Because of it, some atheists stop taking my ideas seriously as soon as they find out I am a Christian, even if they considered me intelligent and rational before knowing. Admitting that I am a Christian somehow removes some of my credibility if I ever end up discussing matters involving facts.
2. We are suspected of bigotry. Because some religious fundamentalists have aligned themselves with radical conservatives, some of whom have views opposed to those expressed by Christ, we all tend to get lumped into that category, regardless of our political leanings or our actual personal opinions about human rights issues. We are stereotyped as greedy, insensitive materialists even when we, as individuals, might care very deeply about being charitable to the unfortunate. There are some people out there who think we would still be slave-holding, wife-beating, gay-stoning, child-bullying assholes if we had our way. Instead of recognizing that closed-minded people, regardless of their imagined reasons, are the true cause of social inequality, some seem to believe that Christianity itself has been detrimental to worthwhile causes such as equality and freedom. It is unfortunate that Christianity has been the chosen excuse that certain very vocal bigots like to hide behind.
3. We are seen as trying to justify historical atrocities, or of trivializing them. People acting wrongly, taking the name of Christ in vain, have committed atrocities because of misunderstanding God's will, and whenever Christianity is discussed, it is nearly impossible to avoid having to defend it against people who associate it with the inquisition, witch hunts, mass torture, and various other crimes against humanity. Such people tend to ignore holocausts waged by atheists against a variety of religions worldwide. Perhaps this difference is because atheists do not pretend to be unified in their purpose. Even so, if a pack of wolves were to call themselves butterflies and were to go about devouring, it would make no sense to hate all butterflies for the crimes of that wolf pack. All Christians are to be distinguished by our love, according to the bible.
1 John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
1 John 2:9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
4. We are accused of indirectly supporting child sexual abuse by Catholic priests. This is a similar case, where people of a specific religious branch are treated as though they represented all Christians, and where only the worst of the members of that specific branch are considered. If one is actually living according to Christ's teachings, that person is against harming children.
5. We are stereotyped as being against contraception, against abortion, and therefore also against women's reproductive freedom. Again, only specific branches are against contraception in general, while others are only against forms of birth control that kill a child who has already been conceived. As for those of us who are against abortion, our reasons have nothing to do with keeping women enslaved. In fact, many of the earliest feminists were anti-abortion. If anything, those of us who oppose it could say that those who promote it are the ones who are doing a disservice to women, because female babies are more likely to be killed by abortion than males, and because (regardless of how often the word "choice" is thrown around) abortion is often something extremely traumatic that women are stuck with as a last resort, in overwhelmingly negative circumstances; because a chauvinistic work system makes them choose between their career and their family; because an unjust court system is unreliable in cases of domestic abuse, making it nearly impossible to ensure that the child would be safe if a woman eventually divorced her abuser; being poor; being young and unmarried in a conservative family; being pressured by a partner who doesn't want to pay child support; being raped by men who have been trained to lack respect for women's boundaries; or being influenced by fear because of some underlying awareness that there will be a lack of societal support. The problem is much bigger than deciding whether we should be allowed to kill our unborn babies. I am against abortion because allowing babies to be killed does nothing to remedy the real issues that keep women oppressed. My reasons have nothing to do with my religion. Even so, if a person knows my religion, all of my arguments are generally treated dismissively, and are assumed to be because of my Christianity.
6. We are accused of insanity. Those of us who have had actual supernatural encounters are mostly thought to be hallucinating or delusional, because those who do not believe in anything miraculous often try to come up with alternative explanations for our experiences, however improbable those explanations may be, or how contrary to our actual perceptions. They do so in order to protect themselves from having to consider our perspective valid, since doing so would involve an uncomfortable paradigm shift.
While I acknowledge that being an atheist in America can make a person a target, especially if one lives in an area where Christians form the overwhelming majority, I find that being a Christian can also make a person a target. Perhaps this is more often the case online, since the internet seems to be mostly inhabited by atheists. Anyhow, I am very sorry you have been made to suffer from any kind of discrimination. Nobody should disown family members over such things, because one's spirituality should always be each individual's own decision, not something forced or coerced by threat of abandonment.