In what is undoubtedly a first for a major African American publication, the July issue of Ebony Magazine contains an article featuring a black atheist. The write-up by Alix Jules, director of the Fellowship of Freethought in Dallas, was selected from user submissions for the Spirit Quest section of the magazine’s wellness section, and details his development from Catholic to atheist.
I give credit to the Ebony for providing a platform for this discussion. I hadn’t read the magazine in years, and the last time I flipped through a copy, the edition contained the venerable Most Eligible Bachelorette feature, which highlights single successful African American women. When listing qualities desired in a mate virtually every bachelorette included ‘Christian’ on the list. I suppose if the elusive, eligible educated black man happened to be a Muslim, Jew, Hindu or atheist, he need not apply. From what I can remember, this type of presumptive (Christian) religiosity permeates the stories of the magazine even when not on topic.
Jules, who prefers the title freethinker to atheist, emphasizes that freethought involves taking full accountability for one’s life, which is liberating. He mentions his efforts to bring more diversity into the freethought/atheist community, and endorses a thorough read of the Bible…noting that nothing will turn one into an atheist quicker.
The letters to the editor next month should be interesting. I am already drafting mine.
D. Frederick Sparks is an attorney living in Los Angeles.