Leaving Jesus: Women of Color Beyond Faith

Tagged: activism / atheism / Black Atheists of America / Christianity / Debbie Goddard / gender/feminism / history / humanism / Jamila Bey / Kimberly Veal / LA / local groups / Mandisa Thomas / Sikivu Hutchinson

The 24-hour prayer sessions are the true test of a warrior for Jesus.

They require Herculean stamina, the patience of Job, the rigor of elite marathon runners hitting the wall in a fiery sweat pit at high altitude, primed for God’s finish line. In many small storefront Pentecostal churches these “pray-a-thons” are women’s spaces; hubs of music, food, caregiving, and intense witnessing.

My student Stacy Castro* is a bass player in her Pentecostal church’s band. She is also the pastor’s daughter and a regular participant in the pray-a-thons, a mainstay in some evangelical congregations. Much of her weekends are focused on church activities. And though she is an intelligent and gifted speaker, up until her participation in the Women’s Leadership Project she thought little about pursuing college and wanted to go to cosmetology school.

Stacy’s aspirations are not atypical of students at Washington Prep High School in South Los Angeles. In a community that is dominated by churches of every stripe only a small minority go on to four year colleges and universities.

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Sikivu Hutchinson
About the Author: Sikivu Hutchinson

Sikivu Hutchinson is a writer and an intergroup specialist for the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. She is the author of Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles, Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars and Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels. She is also the founder of Black Skeptics Los Angeles and a senior fellow for the Institute for Humanist Studies.