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Friday, May 29, 2009

Thank You, Jesus........Is This A Return to Logic And Reason Over Overt Religiosity? Black Atheists Speak!

I just happened to trip over this article written by Sikivu Hutchinson (pictured above) and although I do believe in a certain degree of spirituality, I have never been a supporter of the "in your face" religiosity espoused by many within the far right faction of my political persuasion. I have also been highly critical of the "fantasy oriented" religious proselytizing that runs rampant in communities of color. But enough of my proselytizing moment, check out an excerpt from Ms. Hutchinson's take on the rise in Atheism among some in the Black community....hallelujah:

Courtesy of the LA Watts Times:

‘Out of the Closet’ — Black Atheists

In some black communities it’s akin to donning a white sheet and a Confederate flag. In others, it’s ostensibly tolerated yet whispered about, branded culturally incorrect and bad form, if not outright sacrilege.

For black atheists like myself, proclaiming one’s non-belief amidst genial wishes to “have a blessed day” is never easy in the seemingly innocuous context of casual chit chat between black folk.

Yet, according to The New York Times, a small but growing segment of the American population, galvanized by the hyper-evangelical climate of the Republican Pleistocene, have begun organizing nationwide and becoming more vocal about their atheism.

Although African Americans are not visible in the “movement,” some are easing away from religion. For black atheists, actively breaking with religious tradition is an even graver rejection than that of white intellectuals electrified by the “pew-storming” rhetoric of atheist gurus such as Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins.

This is partly due to the fact that the history of African American civil and human rights resistance is heavily steeped in Judeo-Christian religious dogma.

Despite the White Anglo Saxon Protestant religious justification for slavery and domestic terrorism, African Americans converted to Christianity and utilized it as a source of succor, community and spiritual redemption.

No matter one’s actual deeds, life path or personal mores, to be unquestioningly religious in some quarters is to be inoculated from criticism. Noting this historical irony in his blog “The Black Atheist,” Wrath James White states, “In these (black) communities you find more tolerance towards gangbangers, drug addicts, and prostitutes, who pray to God for forgiveness than for honest productive citizens who deny the existence of God. This, for me, is one of the most embarrassing elements of Black culture, our zealous embrace of the God of our kidnappers, murderers, slave masters and oppressors.”

While there have been critical appraisals of African American adoption of Christianity within the context of European conquest and racial slavery, few propose atheism as a corrective. Indeed, atheism would seem to fly in the face of a cultural ethos that frames earthly pain and suffering as a crucible for achieving rewards in the afterlife.

In the midst of extreme brutality, religious faith can either be seen as a means to mental health, or, as Karl Marx put it more bluntly, an opiate.

For the remainder of the Hutchinson piece, click on the link below:

‘Out of the Closet’ — Black Atheists

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