A practical atheist is a person who nominally belongs to a religion, but whose decisions and activities are not affected by religion. Such a person might, for instance, attend a Catholic church, but ignore the church's prohibition on contraception.
In his 1949 article, On the Meaning of Contemporary Atheism, Jacques Maritain (a theist) writes (pp. 267-268):
- "[...]there are practical atheists, who believe that they believ in God, but who in reality deny His existence by each one of their deeds—they worship the world, and power, and money."
and (p. 279):
- "It is not nonsense to reproach the many people in modern times who pay lip-service to the God in whom they believe themselves to believe, for having been in actual fact practical atheists."
- Jacques Maritain, On the Meaning of Contemporary Atheism, The Review of Politics, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Jul. 1949), pp. 267-280 (restricted site).