Coming out of the closet not easy for Black atheists
I’ve read enough articles, editorials and op-ed pieces to realize, at least superficially, that being both and atheist and black is not an easy thing. African Americans have a long history of relying on the church for support. Abandoning religion often means abandoning the culture. As the secular movement gains momentum, however, more and more in the community are speaking out about this, especially in the light of so many black voters voting Proposition 8 in California.
Sikivu Hutchinson is an eloquent and passionate woman who cares about the truth. She’s written an article about how African American women who wish to abandon their beliefs are often stigmatized by others in the community. Women are seen as the protectors and purveyors of black culture, and religion is seen as an inextricable part of it.
Images of black women faithfully shuttling their children to church and socializing them into Christianity are a prominent part of mainstream black culture. If being black and being Christian are synonymous, then being black, female and religious (whatever the denomination) is practically compulsory. Black women with children who don’t fall in line, who raise their children as atheists, may find their race credentials revoked.
I have to wonder how many black men and women secretly reject religion for the sake of political convenience. It’s just another example of why ‘coming out’ as an atheist is still incredibly difficult for some, and even impossible for others. If you think it’s easy being an atheist, you obviously have never been part of a highly religious community.
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