*In an editorial piece in Gawker, writer Cord Jefferson talks about the exclusion some African Americans experience after declaring they’re atheists.
Jefferson explains that yes most of America is religious, but not everyone is on the God-bandwagon. While some are more accepting than others, the black community sort of has this policy of sorts that damns non believers to hell:
Several years ago, I pitched a freelance piece about black atheism to a prominent magazine geared toward African-Americans. The pitch was denied, but not for any real reason. “That one might be a bit, uh, hard,” is all my editor said. I’d later come to find out that he was merely sheltering me from his ultra-Christian executive editor, who would never let a piece questioning religion run in the magazine.
Black America’s religious problem isn’t that it’s highly religious—most of America is religious—it’s that, in my experience, it’s highly religious to the point of exclusion, as if black people living their lives without God don’t count. Black atheists or agnostics are often looked at by other blacks as alien or pitiable. A black atheist quoted in the New York Times last year said his mother was bothered more by the admission that he is an atheist than the admission that he is gay. Another in the Huffington Post said that declaring she was an atheist to her black friends was “social suicide.”
Read the full story at Gawker.
*Billboards featuring famous Black American skeptics are part of a national Black History Month campaign by African Americans for Humanism, says Chron.com. Like all billboards addressing religion, the response has been mixed.
Baptists in Dallas are countering the message by emphasizing cultural ties to Christianity among African Americans. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention reported:
SBTC President Terry Turner said the history and culture of blacks in the United States has been tied, not to religion generally, but to Christianity particularly. In November, Turner became the first African American elected to lead the convention.
“All we had was tied into our faith, our Christianity,” said Turner, pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church, referring to the traumatic history of blacks in America.“When it comes to our relationship with God, our history shows we have been able to love the Lord in our own way.”
Dallas-area atheist leader Alix Jules, who is pictured on a billboard with Langston Hughes, said he has been ostracized from family and community for his non-belief, but has found a new community among freethinkers.