Black Non-Believers of Atlanta: Interview with Mandisa L. Thomas

Mandisa Thomas is a co-founder and current President of the Black
Nonbelievers of Atlanta
.  Although never formally indoctrinated into belief, Mandisa was heavily exposed to Christianity, Black
Nationalism and a bit of Islam. As a child she loved reading, and enjoyed
various tales of Gods from different cultures, including Greek and Ghanaian.
“Through reading these stories and being taught about other cultures at an
early age, I quickly noticed that there were similarities and differences
between those deities and the God of the Christian Bible. I couldn’t help but wonder
what made this God so special that he warrants such prevalence in today’s
society.” she recalls. She has been a guest on programs including The Critical Eye, Ask
an Atheist and the Black Freethinkers blogtalk radio show (of which she is now
a co-host with Kimberly Veal of the Black Non-Believers of Chicago).

BS: What led you to create the Black
Non-Believers of Atlanta group?  What are
some of the initiatives the group has undertaken and what has been the response
of the local community?

Mandisa: Benjamin Burchall and I founded
Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta to reach other African Americans who are either
questioning their religious beliefs, or whom are nonbelievers that are still in
the closet. Because religion is so prevalent in the lives of many in our
communities, we understood how difficult it could be to express an opposing
view. We also realized that there are serious consequences for many that do so,
(including ostracism from many social circles) and we knew that there needed to
be a support system created. The initiatives we’ve taken include conducting
General Meetings once a month, sponsoring a Recovering from Religion support
group, and participating in community cleanup projects.

BS: Atlanta seems to be a relative hub of
black non-theist activity. Why do you think that is? [Read more…]