Support African Americans for Humanism

As NPR recently reported, there's a high price to pay for being a black atheist in America. African Americans who come out of the closet as nonreligious may be cut off by their own families, may be labeled a "race traitor" or an "apostate", or accused of lacking morals or having "holes in their souls" - this despite the fact that atheism, humanism and freethought have a strong and lively tradition within the African-American community. That's why I was glad to hear about African Americans for … [Read more...]

The Contributions of Freethinkers: Asa Philip Randolph

The civil rights movement in America is often identified with Christianity. In large part this is because of the influence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was a Baptist minister and worked the language and cadence of sermons into his most famous speeches - especially the famous paraphrase of the Book of Amos, "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."But the civil rights movement wasn't organized or led solely by Christians. As … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

• Greta Christina posts her completed list of atheists of color.• In early 1981, Carl Sagan sent this letter to the Explorers' Club - an international society dedicated to scientific exploration - regarding their men-only admission policy. Several months later, the first female members were admitted. (HT: Geek Feminism Blog)• Johann Hari writes about "the myth of the panicking disaster victim" and what it implies for humanity's inherent moral sense.• Catholic … [Read more...]

Atheist Action Items

• We've all been following the news about the massive earthquake and tsunami that's devastated Japan, and I won't waste your time rehashing the details. Help on an international scale is urgently needed, and the Foundation Beyond Belief has stepped in and is raising funds for the Japanese Red Cross. They've already collected almost $10,000, but that's just a drop in the bucket compared to what's needed. Visit their ChipIn page and contribute if you can.• On another note, my good … [Read more...]

The Abolition Spirit Is Undeniably Atheistic

Having written recently about what really caused the Confederacy to secede, I wanted to say some more about the topic. I've previously discussed the religious foundations of the CSA and how they repeatedly appealed to God and Christianity as a defense of the rightness of slavery, and I'd like to add some more evidence on that subject.Benjamin Palmer was born in Charleston in 1818 and became one of the preeminent Christian preachers of the antebellum era. He served as Moderator of the first … [Read more...]

Encouraging Diversity in Atheism

I wrote last month about the importance of making non-white atheists feel welcome. I intend to continue banging that drum, and now I again have occasion to do so, thanks to this article from Religion News Service, "Atheists' Diversity Woes Have No Black-and-White Answers".This article complements the last one I discussed. Alom Shaha's essay was about being a person of color and an atheist, looking at the community from the inside. This one is more about looking in from the outside, how the … [Read more...]

Making Non-White Atheists Feel Welcome

I was reading this outstanding essay by Alom Shaha, an atheist and ex-Muslim of Bangladeshi descent, who describes what it's like to come out as a nonbeliever in a tightly-knit, intensely religious community. But as he makes clear, the social and cultural pressure on people in his situation isn't just a matter of happenstance; it formed as a defensive reaction against a wider society that was bitterly prejudiced:My family was one of a large wave of Bangladeshi families who emigrated to the … [Read more...]

Where, Oh, Where Are the Atheist Women?

Last week, I noticed a pingback on my blog from a post on Ms. Magazine by Monica Shores, "Will New Atheism Make Room for Women?"There are some good things about this piece. I have to say that I'm glad to see the atheist movement making an impact in wider, more traditional media circles. The need to diversify the atheist movement and ensure that we encourage and fairly value the contributions of women and people of color is a valid one, and I've written about it before as well. I welcome more … [Read more...]

Weekend Link Miscellany

I've got a couple of links this weekend, some atheism-related, some not:• Lost a digital camera lately? It made me smile to find out about I Found Your Camera, a website helping to reunite lost cameras with their owners.• After the terrible and entirely preventable deaths of three people during a "sweat lodge" ceremony last year, the New Age community in Sedona is suffering a tourist backlash. Is this what it takes to make people realize that pseudoscientific gibberish is not … [Read more...]

The Connection Between Religion and Slavery

Last year, I wrote about whether Christianity deserves the credit for abolishing slavery. I have some additional evidence on that topic I'd like to mention.I just finished reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the autobiography of the great American abolitionist. Born a slave in antebellum Maryland, Douglass taught himself to read at a young age, in secret, and later escaped to the North and freedom. His account of his own life is an eloquent first-hand retelling of the cruelty, … [Read more...]


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