African-American atheists

The New York Times had an interesting article (which for some reason was in its Fashion & Style section) about the growing open atheism in the black community, one that has traditionally been seen as more religious and more disapproving of atheism than the population at large.

The article says that less than one-half of one percent of African-Americans are atheist, much lower than for whites. It is possible that the fraction is as large as that of white atheists but that the greater taboos against it meant that they kept quiet about their disbelief and even went with their families to church just to avoid making waves. A young man said that his mother was more bothered by his revelation that he was an atheist than that he was gay, another issue which the black community tries to keep under wraps.

Some of them have been quite outspoken about their views that Christianity should be rejected. The article mentions someone named Wrath James White who has a blog called Words of Wrath where he denounces African-Americans’ “zealous embracement of the God of our kidnapper, murders, slave masters and oppressors.” He goes on to say that “In most African-American communities, it is more acceptable to be a criminal who goes to church on Sunday, while selling drugs to kids all week, than to be an atheist who … contributes to society and supports his family.”

But the internet is changing all that. People are realizing that wherever you are, there are atheists all around you who are just like you. The comments to the NYT article are worth reading because they reveal many other people who are rejoicing in this newfound openness and were glad to see an article in a mainstream publication acknowledging their existence. The internet and social networking sites have allowed them to join up and form communities of their own, and more and more are speaking out openly about their disbelief.

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