I went the other way, from church going anglican to atheist (as did my wife who came from the catholic direction). I don't feel defensive and i am fairly open with my position to those who ask although I don't discuss it in situations were i might be considered "in authority" such as with undergraduate students- I would much rather encourage people to think for themselves. Also i would say that I felt more afraid as a believer as i was always concerned by the fact that there was obviously an arbitariness about my beliefs based on what my parents our guardians fed me as a child. I would also disagree (as a parent) that children are "spiritual" they certainly rely on their parents to be told about things they should know, fire burns etc. If you tell them supernatural forces exists then sure, they will have a supernatural "sense", but this proves nothing to me.
I have been trying to think whether I used to look down on atheists or not. I suspect that my belief was very personal and therefore I felt what others felt did not matter to me. I also remember feeling that atheists were kind of spoiling the party, but then I never proselytised or tried to tell others what to think. Lets face it the current atheism is mostly a response to current political manifestations of religion, something that concerns me enough to post here.
all the best