Black Atheists Dare to 'Come Out'
But face ostracism in highly religious community
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2011 5:12 PM CST
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(Newser) – African American atheism is not exactly a time-worn tradition. It's so rare, in fact, that black atheists risk losing friends and family, and having a much smaller pool of potential life partners, if they dare speak up, the New York Times reports. Washington resident Ronnelle Adams first told his grandmother he was gay—and later revealed his atheism. "She was distraught," he says. "She told me she was more bothered by that than the revelation I was gay.”

Two years ago Adams founded a Facebook group called "Black Atheists," which has grown to 879 members. There are also black atheist meet-up groups in cities like New York, Houston, and Atlanta. But the movement is running against two powerful perceptions: that "not believing in God is seen as a thing for white people,” as one black atheist put it, and the idea that religious belief fueled the civil rights movement. True, churches were the only all-black refuges during Jim Crow, "but the story that gets told is, ‘Jesus delivered us,’ ” says one journalist. “Frankly, it was humans who did all the work.”

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Showing 3 of 256 comments
Nov 29, 2011 12:17 PM CST
"It's so rare, in fact, that black atheists risk losing friends and family, and having a much smaller pool of potential life partners" - which is proof that atheists just can't get along with people.
Nov 29, 2011 2:25 AM CST
Sadly in the states the atheist closet is still an acceptable one to hide in (along with many, many others). Yes, plenty of various minority atheists exit. I even know a LGBT genderqueer Zapotec atheist. Hopefully, atheists will become more accepted in my life time.
Nov 28, 2011 9:11 AM CST
Hey Christians don't get your rosaries all in a bind. Contrary to popular belief Atheism is not a counter reaction to your beliefs. There have been Atheists far longer than there have been Christians. We have been there to raise an eyebrow at all the many religions & nonsensical explanations of the fantastic which have come before. You see I don't have any faith any way or the other about some fantastical pantheon of tribal gods. I see the bible the same way as I see The Lord of the Rings. I am slightly amused about folks who would see either of these books as "REAL". Both books have dragons, giants, some pretty sweet battles, & a few bits about death & resurrection. Is it possible the bible is true? This is a non issue; And frankly who cares if African Americans, or Native americans, or eskimos have the capacity to be atheists? Did people really think common sense & the Age of Enlightenment was confined to Europe?