The Huffington Post has an article that profiles a number of African-Americans from different religions, including no religion at all. For the atheist perspective they look at my friend Debbie Goddard of the Center for Inquiry. She says of her experiences:
I was raised Catholic and even attended Catholic school from K through 10th grades. I occasionally attended Friday night services with my Jewish father out of curiosity. In 6th grade religion class, it occurred to me that if the Catholics were right about everything, then the Jews I knew were wrong—and might burn in hell! On the other hand, how did I know the Jews weren’t right and the Catholics wrong? This made me realize that perhaps the beliefs were based on stories…and maybe there really wasn’t a God.
There are times when I’ve felt straight-up rejected by the black community because I’m an atheist. When I tried to start a secular club in college, my closest black friends told me that humanism and atheism are harmful Eurocentric ideologies and implied that if I’m an atheist, I’m turning my back on my race. Atheism is [seen as] not just a threat to religious beliefs and tradition, but also a threat to black identity and black history. As the director of African Americans for Humanism, I’m working with others to challenge these misconceptions. As the atheist community becomes more diverse, it’s getting better at welcoming people of different backgrounds and listening to people with different perspectives. I’m encouraged by the changes I’ve seen in the last decade, but we have a long way to go in both communities.
One of the exciting things going on in the secular community is the emergence of more diverse voices. Debbie, Anthony Pinn, Sikivu Hutchinson, Jamila Bey and many more are really adding to our understanding of what it means to be an atheist, humanist and skeptic. There is much we can learn from them.
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