Checking the news can be daunting sometimes. Recent stories have had atheist bad guys demanding the Pendleton Cross be removed, the Big Mountain Jesus be removed, the Cranston Rhode Island School Prayer be removed… why it is that these stories never lead with “atheists urge others to follow the law”?
Anyway, it is the rare day when I find a story that does not paint atheists as evil. And today, not one but two stories that explore particular atheists in detail, accurately and sympathetically. These are good stories, and well worth reading!
In the New York Times (in the Fashion & Style section?), a story, “The Unbelievers”, about African-American atheists:
Given the cultural pull toward religion, less than one-half of a percent of African-Americans identify themselves as atheists, compared with 1.6 percent of the total population, according to Pew. Black atheists, then, find they are a minority within a minority.
In 2008, John Branch made his first YouTube video, “Black Atheism.” With the camera tight on his face, Mr. Branch, now 27, asks, “What is an atheist? An atheist is simply someone who lacks a belief in God.” Half kidding, he goes on, “We’re not drinking blood. We’re not worshiping Satan.” The video has received more than 40,000 hits.
“I think it attracted so much attention because, in the black community, not believing in God is seen as a thing for white people,” said Mr. Branch, a marketing strategist in Raleigh, N.C. “I hate that term, ‘acting white,’ but it’s used.”
Reading through the article, there is so much I want to re-post here, but I’ll just say “go read the whole thing.” It’s a thoughtful exploration of a group that should not be invisible, but often is (at least in the real world–it also shows the power of the internet to build community).
The second article is a pleasant little thing–a family in Austin has been exploring many different faith communities, just to get to know them better, and today’s article describes their meeting with some local atheists, a fun encounter that actually “gets it” in describing atheists like the ones I know:
As my girls asked more questions, more laughter ensued, more stories were shared, and it became apparent that though atheism might be a declaration of what is not believed, it isn’t a negative or nihilistic outlook.
It’s a short article, but again, worth the read.
Maybe there’s hope after all. Can’t wait to see what the comments sections look like.