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Feb 13 2013

Day of Solidarity for Black Nonbelievers

Picture of Kimberley Veal of African Americans for HumanismThis February 24th (2013) is going to be a Day of Solidarity for Black Nonbelievers. For an explanation of what that means and how you can participate, read the great piece by its organizer, Kimberley Veal (writing as a guest on Greta Christina’s blog): “Come Out and Join in.”

I’d also love it if you scheduled yourself to throw some financial support to the educational charity drive run by our own Black Skeptics Los Angeles, who are providing scholarships to poor families sending their first generation to college: see Secular Community Steps Up for South L.A. Scholars. For more on the details of that 501(c)3 charity (which is an awesome idea), see Black Atheists Step Up. If they get a bunch of donations on that day, it will make a valuable statement.

But at the very least, make this February 24th a day to look up something to read online about the history of black atheism and nonbelief, and talk about it (online or elsewhere). You can watch a video at BlackAtheistsAmerica or google one of the prominent black atheists currently in our movement (Greta Christina’s list will soon be updated, but it’s a great place to start, with further links on minority atheism generally: see Atheists of Color; in fact, if you know any active black atheist speakers not on that list, let her know), or google up what you can on one of the prominent historical figures listed at the Black Atheists website. Not all on that historical list were atheists, but all have sternly questioned aspects of religion.

Picture of Frederick DouglasMy favorite, and actually the historical person I most admire (and that’s person, of any race), is Frederick Douglass, whose first autobiography everyone should read. It’s inspiring, astonishing, and superbly written, and today barely costs more than a dollar: see Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. That’s right. He was an escaped slave, who secretly taught himself to read when it was a death penalty offense. His book tells the tale. He never renounced belief in God or Christianity, but he was well known for his harsh criticisms of religion, and for such witticisms as “I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”

On religion in general he once declared such words as we never much hear from top Christian leaders today:

I love that religion that is based upon the glorious principle, of love to God and love to man; which makes its followers do unto others as they themselves would be done by. If you demand liberty to yourself, it says, grant it to your neighbours. If you claim a right to think for yourselves, it says, allow your neighbours the same right. If you claim to act for yourselves, it says, allow your neighbours the same right. It is because I love this religion that I hate the slave-holding, the woman-whipping, the mind-darkening, the soul-destroying religion that exists in the southern states of America. It is because I regard the one as good, and pure, and holy, that I cannot but regard the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. Loving the one I must hate the other, holding to the one I must reject the other, and I, therefore, proclaim myself an infidel to the slave-holding religion of America.

Even this atheist says “Amen.”

6 comments

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  1. 1
    aaronadair

    I have seen that quote before about praying with legs, but I cannot find its source. Apparently even Wikiquotes took it down because there wasn’t a reliable citation. I tried searching and with no luck. Anyone else know where to look?

  2. 2
    John Haigh

    Do you know if George Washington Carver ever spoke or wrote on religious beliefs? [Oh wait] I just Googled it. He was a theist and deist; but a particularly admirable one.

  3. 3
    Swimmy

    The book is available online, legally, for free. It’s not even that long: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23

  4. 4
    gwen

    I really wish there were a black atheist/skeptic/nonbelievers organization here in the Bay Area..

    1. 4.1
      Richard Carrier

      Concur.

  5. 5
    Bridget Gaudette (@BridgetGaudette)

    Thanks Richard!

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