When I turned to active religion in my early twenties, a whole baggage of mystical stuff came with it: spiritual seers, pilgrimages to the shrines of ancient mystics, burning candles, drinking herb tea with awe…
So when I stopped with the religion, and very gradually realized that I am indeed an atheist, I also became a skeptic. My mind cleared of all cobwebs. I was liberated not only from god-bothering, but also spiritualism, homeopathy, reiki, qi, fortune-telling, chiropractic, auras, palmistry, ghosts, magic, aliens… Though I still enjoy a cup of chamomile tea, sometimes.
Of course, it doesn’t work like this for everyone. Many people have no trouble declaring that they are not religious, and then embrace one or many of the above with dreadful, cringe-inducing zeal. Not being religious does not endow one, unfortunately, with critical thought. Indeed, it is too easy to be not religious these days, outside the theocratic states we all know and love. Religion has more or less become associated with fanaticism, child-abuse and woman-hate, so that even religious people do not necessarily burn to bring it to the table (though of course, some still do). Basically, in regular conversation, religion is Not Okay.
But the other stuff is. People swap homeopathic remedies at dinner parties. This is the next frontier, for atheists and skeptics. If people are left to be simply not religious, then something fuzzy will creep in. It is not enough to declare you are not religious, simply because the set of practices and lifestyles of religious people do not appeal to you. We must be able to see religion for what it is, a sham, a fake. Then we will be able to see the fakeness in the other stuff. And then, perhaps, we will be able to protect our minds and wallets, our societies and institutions, from fakeness.