Contrary to popular belief, there have been several books published by African American atheists over the past decade. Despite the growing number of African American atheists, and stock calls for “diversity” within the movement, scholarship by black authors and academics has received little critical visibility or popular support from secular/atheist/humanist communities.
New and old offerings from prolific Rice University scholar Anthony Pinn and more:
The End of God Talk: An African American Humanist Theology, By Anthony Pinn (2012)
Pinn challenges the long held assumption that African American theology is solely theist, arguing that this assumption has stunted African American theological discourse and excluded a rapidly growing segment of the African American population – non-theists. Rejecting the assumption of theism as the African American orientation, Pinn poses a crucial question: What is a non-theistic theology?
Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars, By Sikivu Hutchinson (2011)
Moral Combat provides a provocative analysis of the political and religious battle for America’s soul. It examines the hijacking of civil rights by Christian fascism; the humanist imperative of feminism and social justice; the connection between K-12 education and humanism; and the insidious backlash of Tea Party-style religious fundamentalism against progressive social welfare public policy. Moral Combat also reveals how atheists of color are challenging the whiteness of “New Atheism” and its singular emphasis on science at the expense of social and economic justice. In Moral Combat, Sikivu Hutchinson highlights the cultural influence of African American humanist and atheist social thought in America. She places this tradition within the broader context of public morality and offers a far-reaching vision for critically conscious humanism.
The Only Prayer I’ll Ever Pray: Let My People Go, By Donald Wright (2010)
A stirring call for blacks in America to critically examine their loyalty and dedication to religion and to begin adapting a lifestyle centered on rational thinking. It is time to break the chains of mental bondage caused by religious dogma. This book is a compelling presentation of practical reasons using a common sense approach that encourages blacks in America to disregard their need for religion. It provides a perspective on the harmful influences of religion. Author Donald R. Wright addresses the effects organized religion, primarily Christianity, has had on blacks in America from slavery to the present. He gives a brief but concise explanation as to how slaves were converted to Christianity. He has decoded this Matrix called religion. This book presents the case as an advocate for an alternative view.
Black and Not Baptist, By Donald Barbera (2009)
Known only to each other, they walk among us, invisible and undetected. Now, the secret is out! Atheists exist in the African American community. In the African American community there is an unspoken rule to never air dirty laundry in public, and for years the inner workings of the black community stayed hidden beneath a veil of dark silence, but with integration came a mingling of the races and now few secrets remain. Now, there is one there is one less. Not only do black nonbelievers exist, they walk unnoticed among the “true-believers” along with a host of other religious skeptics and freethinkers. Any hint of atheism or freethought in the African American community remain virtually invisible, camouflaged by indignant denial and indistinct expressions, which help conceal clear atheistic, agnostic or freethought connections . Despite more than 90% of African Americans claiming Christianity, Black and Not Baptist explores how there is a significant chasm between belief and behavior with a searing look at the statistics for adultery, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, gambling and other social problems in both the white and black communities.
The Black Humanist Experience: An Alternative to Religion, By Norm Allen (2002)
As the first book exclusively dedicated to humanists of African descent, “The Black Humanist Experience” gives Black humanists the opportunity to discuss their many and varied reasons for leaving the religious fold and embracing a humanist life stance. As a minority within a minority in the United States, African American humanists often feel isolated and misunderstood. And across the globe humanists are in the minority among Blacks just as they are among all races. These thoughtful essays help to draw attention to the vitality of the humanist movement within the Black community while putting to rest many myths about humanists. Contrary to popular stereotypes, most humanists do not reject religion out of disillusionment, ignorance, desperation, or misanthropy.
Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels, By Sikivu Hutchinson (forthcoming 2013)
“So much conversation regarding atheism and humanism gains no traction, and does little to push beyond areas of comfort and well worn arguments. Sikivu Hutchinson’s work offers an important corrective to this. With clear and sharp insights, Hutchinson pushes readers to recognize and tackle the patterns of thought and action that limit any real ability to respond to issues of race, gender, and sexuality from a transformative and humanist perspective. Read her work, but fasten your seat belt first!”
– Anthony Pinn, author African American Humanist Principles and The End of God Talk: An African American Humanist Theology