A Good Day For Atheists

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.


  1. savoy47 says

    Anne Elizabeth, Larkin and Kyrie seem like wonderful people.
    If only the rest of the religious folk could be as open minded.
    Well worth the read. Both stories gave me a sense of hope.

    I see these little changes happening more and more. It’s just the beginning. The first wave has not even crested yet. As more of us see that we are not alone and take a chance at coming out,this first wave will continue grow. The next wave should be even bigger.

    Side note: I really enjoy all the religious advertising at FTB. It is the fact that their money is supporting our godless community that make me smile.

  2. Martin says

    DC: Can’t wait to see what the comments sections look like.

    Article: User comments are not being accepted on this article.


  3. Cuttlefish says

    Martin–I wonder why? But at least that explains why I didn’t see any comments showing up.

  4. says

    That’s good news. The reality (“they’re just people”) is beginning to leak out into people’s consciousness.

    It would be a good tactic if every atheist being interviewed about a church-state issue in the U.S. began or ended their utterances with exactly what you said: “We honor the Constitution and we want people to obey the laws based on it. We urge everyone to uphold the law.” If it’s said enough times, maybe the reporters would pick it up. Most reporters are in a hurry and take the hook offered to them.

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