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There is a verse in the Bible "My name is on their lips but their hearts are far from me". I don't think now the OP is actually really an atheist, because if you say you are something and then you do things that are contrary to what you say you believe, then you don't really believe in what you say.
I'm not Catholic but have been in a Catholic church with friends, I never did genuflect and wasn't expected to either. Also, I have been at many Shabbos dinners with friends and not one time did I go through the whole candle ritual like all the other women and neither was I expected to.
If he had respect toward their faith to pretend to do it, who was he really showing that he was an atheist?
I would say that every Christian there who saw him pretend, but knew he was an atheist were really thinking that he was not really an atheist. They probably thought he is just going through a phase in his life.