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Wash Post Article: Atheism’s Race Problem & Our Fans

From my article “Atheism Has A Big Race Problem”:

Just as cliché holds that there are no atheists in foxholes, it’s commonly believed that there are no atheists in overwhelmingly Christian black America. African Americans are the most religious ethnic group in the nation; nonbelievers make up just 1 percent of the population.

That’s a problem, and not just because atheists face discrimination in their own communities.

African Americans still live in disproportionately segregated neighborhoods, with few living-wage jobs, parks, accessible public transportation and healthy grocery stores. We make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, but nearly 40 percent of its prison and homeless populations. This disparity has only deepened in the Obama age.

Faith-based institutions provide resources to these poor and working-class families. They also fight racial discrimination, offer a foundation for community organizing and create access to social welfare, professional networks and educational resources. These are essential issues, and atheists of color often find themselves allied in these missions.

White atheists have a markedly different agenda. They are, on average,more affluent than the general population. Their children don’t attend overcrowded “dropout mills” where they are criminalized, subjected to “drill and kill” curricula and shunted off to prison, subminimum-wage jobs or chronic unemployment. White organizations go to battle over church/state separation and creationism in schools…More @http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/06/16/blacks-are-even-discriminated-against-by-atheists/

Top Comments from fans:
Hermann W.
6/17/2014 12:45 PM PDT
It’s a good thing Ms. Hutchinson isn’t the founder of Elderly Black Female Lesbian Skeptics with Disabilities, because then she would be even *more* disappointed in the issues the majority of Atheists are trying to address.
MitchBBBBBB
6/17/2014 2:07 PM PDT
This is just ridiculous on so many levels. All the points related to “racist atheists,” such as white affluence and black dropout rates, are not related to a belief system AT ALL. these are just points related to the two races. The fact that white people are more affluent has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not they believe in a god. Secondly, the idea that black atheists must make separatist groups because they are unequal makes NO sense because their inequality doesn’t begin in the community of atheism. In that community, they are treated exactly the same as white people. This article is 100% bogus.
JohnD16
6/17/2014 12:19 PM PDT
Atheism does not have a race problem. I just happen to be white and I happen to be an atheist. If I choose to support atheist organizations it is because they are pursuing things that are related to theism or atheism.

If I wish to support organizations that fight racism I will do this independent of atheism. While many “isms” may be worthy, they should be supported independent of any kind of atheist organizations…. this includes “feminism, racism, environmentalism, vegetarianism” etc, etc, etc…..

Typical atheist political topics might include, separation of church and state, religious tests for political office, teaching religion as science in school. Please notice…. all of these things are related to theism!

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Atheism America has a big race problem.

    American atheism has at least its share of that problem, and so far has done much less than its share of fixing it.

  2. NDDave says

    Talk about missing the point…their inability to even recognize the point just reinforces the point of the original article.

  3. says

    Like others in the atheist movement, JohnD16 doesn’t recognize how extensively religious belief affects other beliefs. He only sees the direct effects of religious belief. He doesn’t realize that religious beliefs provide tremendous support for the opposition of social justice issues such as marriage equality (or rights for LGBTQI people in general), abortion rights (which is a subset of women’s rights), and even gun rights (for some reason, gundamentalists think its a “god given right” to own guns). On the face of it, these issues don’t appear to be related to religion, but it doesn’t take much digging to see the impact religious beliefs have on these issues. If we remove the religious opposition to same sex marriage, what’s left? If we remove the religious opposition to abortion, what’s left? I don’t think for a second that removing the obstacle of religion will resolve these issues, but without religion, that’s one less source of opposition (and a huge one at that) to social justice issues.

  4. says

    Excellent article.

    Part of what makes it such a hard problem is that there is an asymmetry between religion and atheism. Religion not only affects other beliefs, it also motivates charity and outreach work, and in the case of Christianity, virtually mandates that any such work that is done, whether motivated by religion or not, should be used as a way to evangelize. In contrast, when atheists volunteer, they typically don’t see that as motivated by or connected to their atheism, and are likely to do that with existing organizations that lack an explicit skeptical or atheist character.

  5. says

    What comes from people thinking atheism is a movement? Discussions of racism and the degree to which it affects atheists and atheist organizations? Is that supposed to be a bad thing?

    I presume the scare quotes around “movement” are meant to indicate disagreement that atheism is a movement. Which I don’t get. I mean, it’s one thing to not want to join the movement. Or disagree with its goals. Or want it to go in a different direction.

    But to be in denial that a steadily growing portion of the population who, unlike the majority, don’t subscribe to commonly accepted delusions about the nature of reality, some of whom are organizing to lessen the influence of said delusions constitutes a movement?

    It’s just weird.

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