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tll's Avatar Comment 1 by tll

One cannot argue and of course I am being facetious here, when listening to bimbo's like Ann Coulter boost about how the good old U.S. of A was built on good Christian values!

" Now, how did we end up with this particular religious system? Well, that’s simple: Slavery. One of the original justifications for slavery was to bring the “heathen” African into contact with Christianity. The earliest enslaved Africans were converted by force before even leaving the slave castles of western Africa. They were now Christian by virtue of the slave trader’s power."

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 15:29:34 UTC | #495778

Wosret's Avatar Comment 2 by Wosret

Don't really see what being black has to do with anything. I guess it is from a black skeptics blog, so it's got to aim the focus a bit.

It seems to be implying that black people have a larger cultural incentive, (or invective) to be religious. I would think that Latin America would be a contender there, but would argue that your nationality matters far more than your race, which I wouldn't think matters at all.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 15:35:29 UTC | #495780

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 3 by Dhamma

Wosret:

I don't think it SHOULD matter who says what as it's either true or not true, but it certainly does. Had Hitler "discovered" evolution it would be no less true than Darwin doing it, but do you really think it would be as accepted had Hitler discovered it?

Humans are by nature divisive, and race seems to be a uniter when there are no tribes any longer. Fortunately the racial uniter is blurring out more and more, but it's still got a long way to go, and in the meantime I'd be more than happy if black people, especially celebrities came out as atheists. How many african-american celebrities can you mention coming out as atheists? I think it would have a huge impact on the african-american community if say Obama came out.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 16:02:16 UTC | #495799

knutsondc's Avatar Comment 4 by knutsondc

Wosret @2:

Of course I don't know, but I'd guess that you've never lived in the USA and likely have never spent any significant time here. Only someone largely unacquainted with American history, politics, and culture could say "your nationality matters far more than your race, which I wouldn't think matters at all" concerning Christianity and African-Americans.

America's legacy of slavery, "Jim Crow" laws, legally enforced segregation, racist violence against blacks, and widespread social and economic discrimination against and suppression of African-Americans still profoundly influences broad aspects of life for all Americans, black Americans (obviously) in particular. Race in America isn't merely a matter of genetic heritage -- it's a deeply-rooted cultural divide. There are very powerful cultural forces behind the strength of theologically and socially conservative Christianity among black Americans and this article illuminates one of the biggest ones rather nicely.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 16:42:08 UTC | #495812

Wosret's Avatar Comment 5 by Wosret

Comment 3 by Dhamma :

Wosret:

I don't think it SHOULD matter who says what as it's either true or not true, but it certainly does. Had Hitler "discovered" evolution it would be no less true than Darwin doing it, but do you really think it would be as accepted had Hitler discovered it?

Don't quite see what you're getting at here...

Humans are by nature divisive, and race seems to be a uniter when there are no tribes any longer. Fortunately the racial uniter is blurring out more and more, but it's still got a long way to go, and in the meantime I'd be more than happy if black people, especially celebrities came out as atheists. How many african-american celebrities can you mention coming out as atheists? I think it would have a huge impact on the african-american community if say Obama came out.

...this seems to just be affirming what I have denied. I don't see black people as being especially religious, nor do I think it has a lot to do with it. What do I think of the idea of a black atheist, I think that perhaps the most articulate, and knowledgeable philosophical atheist I know happens to be black, and I wasn't surprised to discover this, nor do I feel that I ought to have been (American to boot).

I've met plenty of black atheists. Just come to Halifax.

Updated: Wed, 04 Aug 2010 17:06:15 UTC | #495820

Wosret's Avatar Comment 6 by Wosret

Comment 4 by knutsondc :

Wosret @2:

Of course I don't know, but I'd guess that you've never lived in the USA and likely have never spent any significant time here. Only someone largely unacquainted with American history, politics, and culture could say "your nationality matters far more than your race, which I wouldn't think matters at all" concerning Christianity and African-Americans.

And you've decided to demonstrate my faulty presumption by telling me that I'm not well-enough acquainted with your nation and its history?

Well done.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 17:04:09 UTC | #495822

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 7 by Dhamma

Wosret,

Admittedly, I know nothing of Canada and I'm only making assumptions on how media portrays american culture, I'm Scandinavian. My guess would be that Canada is a less divisive country than USA, rendering it more likely to find black atheists there.

If race had nothing to do with christianity in USA it strikes me as odd that I can't come to think of any black entertainment-celebrity that's been outed as an atheist whereas I can point out a great deal of white american celebrities that are atheists, regardless of blacks representing only 15% of the population.

I don't think it's anything but a cultural matter though, being black per se won't make you more religious. But being black in USA puts you in the black american culture that is even more religious than the white (if that's not true I'd be very interested in seeing numbers suggesting otherwise). This article was written with that assumption in mind, after all.

One of my favourite atheists is actually black as well - Neil deGrasse Tyson. Didn't shock me the least either, he's an elite scientist.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 17:43:25 UTC | #495839

Wuht2Ask's Avatar Comment 8 by Wuht2Ask

Comment Removed by Author

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 18:01:11 UTC | #495845

Wosret's Avatar Comment 9 by Wosret

Comment 7 by Dhamma :

Wosret,

Admittedly, I know nothing of Canada and I'm only making assumptions on how media portrays american culture, I'm Scandinavian. My guess would be that Canada is a less divisive country than USA, rendering it more likely to find black atheists there.

If race had nothing to do with christianity in USA it strikes me as odd that I can't come to think of any black entertainment-celebrity that's been outed as an atheist whereas I can point out a great deal of white american celebrities that are atheists, regardless of blacks representing only 15% of the population.

I don't think it's anything but a cultural matter though, being black per se won't make you more religious. But being black in USA puts you in the black american culture that is even more religious than the white (if that's not true I'd be very interested in seeing numbers suggesting otherwise). This article was written with that assumption in mind, after all.

One of my favourite atheists is actually black as well - Neil deGrasse Tyson. Didn't shock me the least either, he's an elite scientist.

Well, he did say "black people", and not "African-American" for one thing, repeatedly. He says that "black people love Jesus" and such. I didn't deny that some black people, for perhaps national, or cultural reasons may be more prone to religiousity than others -- but not "black people" in general.

The guy doesn't get out much if he only meant American -- he does realize that this web thing has gone Worldwide, right?

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 18:18:28 UTC | #495853

Valis's Avatar Comment 10 by Valis

when there are no tribes any longer

What do you mean "no tribes"? In my country we have Sotho, Xhosa, Tswana, Venda, Ndebele, Pedi, Koi, San etc. tribes. Those are just a few of many tribes here. I promise you they are all still full of tribal rivalries and xenophobia. It even affects politics here, one of the reasons why you will struggle to find a stable democratic government in Africa, because of tribal rivalry.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 18:37:31 UTC | #495861

Randy Ping's Avatar Comment 11 by Randy Ping

QFT

What if we stopped waiting on Jesus and started planning? What if we realized that deferring justice until the next life meant deferring it forever? What if we understood that following a religion which too often perpetuates patriarchy has a chilling effect on the development of millions of our potential leaders? What if we knew that our gay brothers and sisters had just as much right to exist as the rest of us (something that would be obvious to a historically oppressed people but for religious influence)? What if we could drop the inaction of religion, for the urgency that comes with knowing that it is up to us? What if we could drop the divisiveness of faith for the loving kindness of humanism? What if…

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 19:04:01 UTC | #495873

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Comment 12 by Letsbereasonable

A black atheist's brain is not black. A black believer's brain is not black. Both are just as grey as everyone elses, or so I thought.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 19:08:05 UTC | #495876

egg is egg's Avatar Comment 13 by egg is egg

Every time I've seen this issue brought up, there are always people who seem to miss the point completely. Of course there are black atheists. It's not about whether or not black atheists exist, it's about social pressure.

This problem exists within other communities as well, such as Hispanics. I've seen a close friend of mine go through a lot of hell with his Puerto Rican family over religious belief that is, in their minds, tied directly with their racial/cultural background. If you do not believe, not only are you a religious outcast, but you are not Puerto Rican enough. Therefore, you are a double reject.

I think it might be difficult for whites to grasp this kind of thing. Generally, if a white person rebels from the social norm, yes they get shit for it, but their perceived status of being "white enough" is not revoked. You are not put on a guilt trip for betraying your group's "heritage."

Naturally this does not apply to everyone and, as has been stated, there ARE black (and hispanic and asian etc etc) atheists. I just wish people would look at the big picture and stop pretending this is a non-issue.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 19:15:04 UTC | #495881

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 14 by Dr. Strangegod

Atheism in black culture in America is a fascinating phenomenon. I think it's perfectly valid to talk about because of the special relationship that blacks formed with Christianity throughout and after the slave era. Also, the black church (in a very general sense) continues to be one of the major pillars of black culture. Simply put, the reason for this is that before emancipation, the lack of power or the ability to form a leadership relationship within black culture that was outside the realm of power of the slave owners left religion as one of the only aspects of life out of which could be built a socially binding structure. There is a reason that many black political leaders have been reverends. When there was no chance of being the governor or CEO, you could still be head of the local church. The history is mostly all out there if you take the time to read it. This article was too long and boring for me to read all of, but the first few paragraphs seemed acceptable enough.

Updated: Wed, 04 Aug 2010 19:24:07 UTC | #495882

egg is egg's Avatar Comment 15 by egg is egg

Comment 12 by Letsbereasonable :

A black atheist's brain is not black. A black believer's brain is not black. Both are just as grey as everyone elses, or so I thought.

Culturally, people of different groups have different circumstances.

People seem to keep misinterpreting this as some sort of biology based issue. It's not.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 19:25:13 UTC | #495886

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 16 by Mr DArcy

A nice article, well written and to the point. Whilst Christians are blind to the bits of the Bible that positively condone slavery, they claim credit for the "meek" inheriting the Earth. Christianity was adopted by the slaves of the Roman Empire as the religion that gave them some hope of a better life, how shall I say it, "somewhere else" i.e. heaven. A religion that was open to all comers, (when you start at the bottom of the pile, anyone higher than you is welcome); a religion that made the toil of life just about bearable, although Spartacus, living and dying before Jesus, disagreed and rebelled and was executed.

So amphorous and tenuous are the tenets of Christianity that it has been able to adapt to the changing societies of chattel slavery, feudalism and now capitalism, and each time its message has been "massaged" to suit the ruling class. The perfect chameleon of a religion to blend in with current circumstances.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 20:43:49 UTC | #495907

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Comment 17 by Letsbereasonable

Comment 15 by egg is egg

Quite so. But why do black atheists have to be "black atheists", why can't they just be atheists?

If black atheists keep calling themselves "black atheists" then it does make it a biology issue, doesn't it?

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 20:58:24 UTC | #495912

egg is egg's Avatar Comment 18 by egg is egg

Comment 17 by Letsbereasonable :

Comment 15 by egg is egg

Quite so. But why do black atheists have to be "black atheists", why can't they just be atheists?

If black atheists keep calling themselves "black atheists" then it does make it a biology issue, doesn't it?

I personally don't care what they call themselves, that's their business.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 21:22:47 UTC | #495922

Mark D. Hatcher's Avatar Comment 19 by Mark D. Hatcher

Comment 17 by Letsbereasonable :

Comment 15 by egg is egg

Quite so. But why do black atheists have to be "black atheists", why can't they just be atheists?

If black atheists keep calling themselves "black atheists" then it does make it a biology issue, doesn't it?

Black Atheists separate themselves in America because there is a tangible cultural difference in Black and White culture (generally speaking of course). The same is true for Hispanic and Asian culture. This is because the division of the races in America played such a large part in it's history. I don't like it anymore than the next person, but you can't ignore the influence of race in this country and expect to get anything done.

Saying "Black Atheist" is more of a cultural reference than a reference to skin tone. There are very many White and Hispanic people involved with "African Americans for Humanism" because the identify with the culture that many Black humanists are surrounded by.

Just the fact that religiosity is so high and critical thinking skills are so low among Blacks relative to Whites should be evidence enough that these two groups should be approached differently. I grew up immersed in Black culture and I know that there are certain methods of communication/ education that are less effective with that culture than that of White culture.

As far as religion is concerned, the Church is the foundation for Black culture. Every community program centers around the church (daycare, after-school programs, social events, parenting classes, etc). This is because, before the Civil Rights movement, the Church was the only resource available to Blacks that Jim Crow wasn't allowed to touch. Church was the only place that Blacks could go to feel safe, which ingrained it that much more into society, which makes it that much harder to break away from once you decide to.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 21:38:30 UTC | #495924

cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 20 by cheesedoff17

Churches act as social clubs everywhere but the Black church in which i participated a couple of times when i lived in the US, ( I wanted to record their music ) was such a joyful place i almost wished i was a believer. After the ceremony everyone hugged each other, including me. I found it very moving. After all Black people have been through though, their religiosity seems as weired as that of a Holocaust victims belief in a benevolent deity. Neil deGrasse Tyson. The first US Black to out. There'll be more soon.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 21:57:27 UTC | #495928

aliensmack's Avatar Comment 21 by aliensmack

I've always thought it to be strange that black people in America believe the Christian religion . I wondered what does chistianity offer black people when it condones slavery . This article affirms my thoughts on the issue by showing how the christians of the time wanted to introduce the hethens to Jesus . Makes perfect sense . How can African Americans alive today be so blind to the chains of slavery still tied to their minds .

Updated: Wed, 04 Aug 2010 22:29:21 UTC | #495944

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 22 by mordacious1

Comment 20 by cheesedoff17

Neil deGrasse Tyson. The first US Black to out. There'll be more soon.

I hardly think so.

My favorite African American "outing" of all time. God!

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 22:31:14 UTC | #495947

Mark D. Hatcher's Avatar Comment 23 by Mark D. Hatcher

Comment 20 by cheesedoff17 :

Neil deGrasse Tyson. The first US Black to out. There'll be more soon.

That's not true at all. See Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Butterfly McQueen, WEB Du Bois, Alice Walker, A. Philip Randolph, and Morgan Freeman among others.

I do agree that there will be more soon.

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 22:32:39 UTC | #495948

knutsondc's Avatar Comment 24 by knutsondc

Comment 6 by Wosret

And you've decided to demonstrate my faulty presumption by telling me that I'm not well-enough acquainted with your nation and its history?

Well done.

If the shoe fits -- and your comments convincingly demonstrate it does -- then I guess you'll just have to wear it. The other possible explanations for your startlingly obtuse comment that "race is irrelevant" to the prevalence of Christianity among black Americans might reflect even more poorly on you than my original hypothesis of simple ignorance of American history and culture. I gave you the benefit of the doubt by marking your comment up to ignorance rather than something less flattering. Perhaps you'd prefer a less charitable explanation?

My earlier observation that the powerful cultural significance of race in America does much to explain the strength of Christianity among black Americans did, IMHO, "demonstrate [your] faulty presumption" based upon your "not [being] well-enough acquainted with [my] nation and its history." You merely imply I've improperly presumed ignorance on your part, but your utter silence in response to the substance of my comment either a) strongly supports that presumption, or b) amounts to an implied claim that you actually read the article before you took a shot at it that manifests a rather unappealing lack of candor on your part.

In what appears to be a belated concession that your original criticism of the article missed the mark badly, you say in Comment 9:

Well, he did say "black people", and not "African-American" for one thing, repeatedly. He says that "black people love Jesus" and such. I didn't deny that some black people, for perhaps national, or cultural reasons may be more prone to religiousity [sic] than others -- but not "black people" in general.

The guy doesn't get out much if he only meant American -- he does realize that this web thing has gone Worldwide, right? (Emphasis added.)

Oh, my. You grudgingly adopt the author's (and my) position, but try to excuse the fatuity of your original criticism of the author by blaming him for supposedly referring to "'blacks' in general" instead of African-Americans specifically. Do you really want to assert that the author confused you into believing that he was talking about some genetic or other non-cultural basis for the relationship between race and Christianity among black people around the world by referring to African-Americans as "blacks?" Wow; just wow -- did you even READ the article before you commented on it?!?

The author's thesis that the enslavement of black people in the United States, and the long post-slavery practice of racial discrimination and intimidation in America had a profound impact on the religious convictions of those enslaved and their descendants was clearly expressed throughout the article. Did you also somehow miss the picture of the black man framed by the image of the statute of Abraham Lincoln at "The Great Emancipator's" Memorial in Washington, D.C.? The article was posted on the web site for a local "Black Skeptics Group" based in Los Angeles, a group for whom and a place in which (in common with the rest of the USA) it's common to use the terms "blacks" and "African-Americans" nearly interchangeably for most purposes. Did all of that just go right over your head?!?

Even if the author assumed his article would reach a "Worldwide" audience due to the magic of "this web thing," he had no reason to believe that any of those readers would believe he was talking about "'black people' in general" across the entire Earth rather than the descendants of slaves in America that he actually and expressly referenced. Anyone claiming otherwise reveals either profound deficiencies in his or her reading and comprehension of the article and the context in which it was written, or a willingness to twist and tear statements out of context in a manner that would embarrass even a Young Earth Creationist attacking evolution and natural selection.

Thu, 05 Aug 2010 00:13:03 UTC | #495981

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Comment 25 by Letsbereasonable

Comment 19 by MDHatcher :

Just the fact that religiosity is so high and critical thinking skills are so low among Blacks relative to Whites should be evidence enough that these two groups should be approached differently.

You might want to clarify this and instead say that critical thinking skills in blacks have been under-nourished in certain areas, the Deep South I presume you to mean here, because of the intense religiosity they have been exposed to for generations.

It sounds as if you're saying that critical thinking skills in blacks relative to whites is to be presumed as a matter of course, but you probably don't mean that. It is because of the religiosity and not a fact independant of it is what I'm trying to say.

Thu, 05 Aug 2010 00:26:33 UTC | #495985

Mark D. Hatcher's Avatar Comment 26 by Mark D. Hatcher

Comment 25 by Letsbereasonable :

You might want to clarify this and instead say that critical thinking skills in blacks have been under-nourished in certain areas, the Deep South I presume you to mean here, because of the intense religiosity they have been exposed to for generations.

It sounds as if you're saying that critical thinking skills in blacks relative to whites is to be presumed as a matter of course, but you probably don't mean that. It is because of the religiosity and not a fact independant of it is what I'm trying to say.

I can see how my word choice might be confusing. No, of course I wasn't implying that Blacks have less capacity for critical thinking than do Whites. I simply mean that, as you said, that type of education is not a focus in predominantly Black areas. This is probably due to the difference in the availability of resources since school district funding is determined by the income of the inhabitants of that district. Because predominantly Black areas tend to be poorer areas, there is a disparity.

But, because there is a clear difference in education, that will cause a difference in how the two cultures process information given to them. It is this fact that makes a specialized approach necessary and, therefore, the necessity of categorizing the groups.

I am not specifically talking about the Deep South. This may be true for Whites in America, but socioeconomic gap tends to be pretty well spread out all over the country thanks to urban, inner city areas. I am from the wealthiest predominantly Black county in America and I have a hard time finding one of my peers who accepts evolution. Even I didn't really get a proper education in it until college.

I don't think that religiosity causes the lack of critical thinking skills, I think it is the other way around actually. Religion is a symptom of a lack of critical thinking, not a cause of it.

Thu, 05 Aug 2010 02:32:18 UTC | #496018