Black atheists matter: how women freethinkers take on religion
Professor Chris Cameron looks at atheism in African American history and the role that women play in the movement today:
Christianity has played a central role in African-American life from the late 18th century to the present. Black churches raised funds for fugitive slaves, served as schoolhouses, and provided space for political meetings and activities, among other functions. Leaders of black congregations such as Richard Allen or Daniel Payne were often leaders of the broader black community. The spiritual messages of redemption and justice appealed to a people who experienced the brutality of slavery and the indignities of Jim Crow segregation laws. However, while many black churches were radical advocates for political and economic equality, others remained conservative institutions that failed to challenge the status quo. This conservatism helped give rise to an increasingly vocal and influential group of African Americans – the new black atheists.
Who are the new black atheists and what is behind their recent growth? First, let’s briefly look at the ‘old’ black atheists.