When you hear the term, “black community”, it is usually associated with “the black church”. The black community is known for having strong religious beliefs and affiliations, and as wrong as it is, are oftentimes defined by just that. One can only imagine the shock upon hearing about a black atheist, especially from people of the community itself.
It is one thing to be an atheist in this country today. It is another to be an atheist in the black community.
Growing up with Christian values, I was always taught that I must believe in God no matter what. Atheists to me were considered to be ungodly devil-worshippers who were going straight to hell. However, as explained in my earlier post, “On Losing My Faith”, I began to become more open-minded after my first year of college. I started to question all of the things that I was not allowed to when I was younger. I soon found myself abandoning Christianity altogether around the second semester of my sophomore year. During the second semester of my junior year was when I began to associate myself with atheism which isn’t the easiest thing to do in today’s society. I’ve noticed a lot that when the going gets tough, people turn to faith rather than affirmative action. When a natural disaster hits, the world is quick to “pray for___”. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against people’s beliefs, I’m just addressing the exclusion I feel in today’s society.
In particular, I do no feel that I fit in with the black community at all. I haven’t even informed my family of my change in religious affiliations or lack of, and I doubt I will be able to come out to them about this for a very long time. The only person close to family that I’ve spoken to about it was my best friend a few days ago. After I came out to her, she was really surprised and I can tell that she was also a little disappointed. I can see why she felt the way she did though. As I’ve stated before, I grew up with Christian values and I was taught that any person believing in anything other than that was wrong, which is one of the reasons why I decided to stray away from religion in the first place. I’ve found, that in organized religion, oftentimes there is more harbored hatred than love.
Because the community has such strong attachment to Christianity, I don’t think I will be welcomed with open arms. One of the main things I noticed is that black people turn to their faith in God because of the amount of misfortunes that gets encountered on a daily basis. During the days of slavery, black people would use Christianity as a way to keep going. They believed that God would eventually bless them after all that they’ve gone through. The same thing can be said in today’s society. It’s a common notion that God will not put you through anything you cannot handle. When the black community faces adversary, they rely on God to get them through it.
And then there’s me. I would rather take responsibility for all of my actions, whether they be good or bad. I think this was another lead forces in putting me on to atheism.
The point of this little rant was to express my feelings towards being an atheist in the black community and my concern of being ostracized for it. One day I will have the confidence to talk to my family and more of my friends about it, but until now, I will keep it to myself.