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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The greater community.

NPR recently ran a story I think some of you might be interested, discussing the unique hardships faced by black atheists:

But, first, for a couple of centuries, African-American culture has been imbued with Christianity. The church figured prominently in both the abolitionist and civil rights movements. And today in many communities, the Christian church continues to be the nucleus of black life.

So, what about the black nonbelievers? It's one isolating experience, according to Jamila Bey. She recently wrote about what it's like as a black atheist for But she adds that she found joy in a community of like-minded people, a conference of African-Americans for humanism. Jamila Bey joins me now in our studio in Washington. Also with us is Norm Allen, executive director of African-Americans for Humanism. Welcome to the both of you.

It's an interesting discussion between the host and two atheists about what it means to be an atheist, a humanist, black, or some combination thereof. And it's a pretty neat read, if only for Ms. Bey's description of how she plans to raise her child:

What I do tell him is science is good. Question everything. He's only two now, but when he's older, I'm sure this will bite me in the behind. Question everything. There is nothing that you can't inquire about. And if people tell you to have faith, grab your wallet and, you know, come and talk to mommy about it and we'll find some more information for you. But don't accept anything at all that they tell you not to question.

If they tell you, oh well, the pastor says this or somebody tells me this or it'll be revealed to you. That's code word for we don't have a real answer, just go along with it. And we don't do that in this house, little boy.

I couldn't agree more- when someone tells you to just have faith, to just believe, grab hold of your wallet because that someone is probably working an angle. I also couldn't agree more about getting bitten on the butt- telling your kids to question, to doubt, to be skeptical is likely to be hellaciously annoying from time to time, but it's a damn sight better than the alternative.

Take a look and enjoy!

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