In the November 27, 2011 New York Times, there was the above article discussing African-American Atheists. I don’t know why the Times had the article in the “Fashion” section, nevertheless the article is an interesting read. Click on the above link for the article.
The conversation with Black Atheism/Freethought (or Freethinking/Freethinker) is long overdue. In the Black community (which I am a part of), we’ve seen such thinking as heretical to our religious beliefs and treasonous to our history. Atheism and Freethought were considered “White” and no Black person entertained such thinking. This is despite the fact that Black Atheism and Freethought has been alive in Black (American) History going back to Fredrick Douglass, and has included such historical luminaries as A. Philip Randolph, Zora Neale Hurston, Butterfly McQueen, and Bayard Rustin.
It’s interesting that at this time in history with fundagelical x-tians trying to grab power in Washington, cracks in the Black church’s facade (the Eddie Long scandal for example), the decline of organized religion in the West, the rise of “Higher Criticism” of the Bible with archaeological evidence refuting Scripture, and the advent of the Internet and social media, Black Atheists and Freethinkers are coming out into the light and making their voices heard.
However, as many Black Atheists and Freethinkers state, they’re still “a minority within a minority”. It’s still a challenge to come out with their beliefs (or lack thereof) due to the possibility of being ostracized by the community. Also, many have close friends and family that are Theists (churchfolk for the rest of us) they’re afraid of hurting with such news.
Another challenge is that Fundagelical X-tianity has a such a strong grip on the Black community that any irreligious thought is anathema. I liken it to the Catholic Church’s hold on Medieval Europe (without the Inquisition). Many Blacks put the church central in their lives and have a blind devotion to it. For many Blacks, the church is also the only place where they can find validity in a society that still has yet to fully validate them-despite the fact that early Blacks were brought to the church via slavery and were subjected to hand-picked (and misquoted) Bible verses designed to subjugate and mollify them, many Blacks still find that validity.
To start the conversation, I’ve started to add Atheist/Freethinker sites to my list of “Fresh Voices”-sites that offer an alternative view to Christianity for your perusal. And to any Atheists/Freethinkers/Agnostics-Black or otherwise-who visit this blog, find this a safe and accepting place to leave your comments, etc; I won’t try to “convert” you. For all I know, you may have the truth.
It’s time to engage the Black Atheist/Freethinker in conversation, to hear them out and consider their words. Not to look at them as “White” or “race traitors” as many in the Black community do. Nor, as a curiosity as Whites do. But as human beings who have their story to tell.
God knows they’ve heard the “old, old story” too long!