African American Atheists Featured on NPR

Last week, I mentioned the “largest ever gathering of black atheists.”

Now, NPR has a story on the African Americans for Humanism conference in Washington, D.C. featuring CFI’s Norm Allen and The Root’s Jamila Bey.

You can listen to the whole piece by going here.

[Host Tony Cox:] So, Norm, why is this such an issue for black people who believe in either humanism or atheism?

Allen: … there have been many negative aspects to religion. For example, even though religion was used during the abolitionist movement to help free African-American slaves, the fact of the matter is that Christianity was used to enslave African-Americans in the first place. So, you have on the one hand a liberative type of force coming from Christianity. But on the other hand you have an enslaving force.

And so you have this dichotomy. You have this paradox that is religion. And what we believe that as non-religious people, we have to look at this objectively and talk about the positive aspects as well as the negative aspects. And it’s hard for us to move forward unless we do so.

Cox: A final thing for you, Jamila. You said that you grew up in a household where there were conflicting religious points of views, from your parents. What are you going to tell your child?

Bey: What I do tell him is science is good. Question everything. He’s only two now, but when he’s older, I’m sure this will bite me in the behind. Question everything. There is nothing that you can’t inquire about. And if people tell you to have faith, grab your wallet and, you know, come and talk to mommy about it and we’ll find some more information for you. But don’t accept anything at all that they tell you not to question.

If they tell you, oh well, the pastor says this or somebody tells me this or it’ll be revealed to you. That’s code word for we don’t have a real answer, just go along with it. And we don’t do that in this house, little boy.

(Thanks to Joe for the link!)

  • animator

    i like that this was played, but a few things bothered me.

    It seemed like the interviewer was trying to say that atheism is one option…and humanism another. Like ‘You can either be an atheist…or a humanist…’

    I also thought a more comprehensive (?) definition should have been given for humanism. Nothing huge. I was waiting for the whole ‘human dignity and concerns’ thing to show up in there.

    I was also waiting for Mr. Allen to respond to the interviewer’s ‘belief in the nonexistence of God’ statement.

    I was also kinda waiting for a ‘this is what I believe…but other athiests and etc may not…’

    Mostly nitpicking I suppose.
    But yeah…glad that this was aired.
    Hopefully this will get more people to question their beliefs. :)

  • Brad

    I’ve watched a lot of interviews lately of “freethinkers” and from what I can tell the media at least here in USA does not know how to address us. For instance, CNN’s interview with Morgan Freeman, http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/living/2010/06/02/am.morgan.freeman.interview.cnn.html the interviewer Kiran Chetry totally starts squirming in her seat when Mr. Freeman asks her when had he ever said he was a man of god. She recovered well I’ll giver that much.

  • Shaun

    I just believe because it was traditional and if you were raised to believe, then that is all you know. I no longer fall into that trap of believing anything! Why would God allow slavery period, or bad things to happen to good people?


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