Friday, March 19, 2010

Black Infidels: Humanism and African American Social Thought

By Sikivu Hutchinson

excerpt from The New Humanist Magazine, A Publication of Harvard's Humanist Chaplaincy

During a talk show discussion on relationships last year, radio personality and self-proclaimed dating guru Steve Harvey charged that atheists had no moral values. Anyone who didn't believe in God was an "idiot," he said, and women should steer clear of these rogue blasphemers at all costs. While atheist websites were abuzz with condemnations of Harvey, his tirade went unchallenged by mainstream African American media. Yet his view reflects conventional wisdom about African American communities and faith. Namely, that African Americans are so unquestioningly religious that having any other viewpoint is grounds for "revocation" of one's race credentials. With churches on every corner, religious idioms seamlessly woven into everyday black speech, faith-based license plates ubiquitous in black neighborhoods and black celebs thanking Jesus at every awards event, how could it be otherwise? According to a 2008 Pew Research Forum study, African Americans are indeed the most "consistently" religious ethnic group in the U.S. However, black Humanist scholars like Norm Allen, Executive Director of African Americans for Humanism, and Anthony Pinn, Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies at Rice University, point to another tradition. Both have critiqued the exclusion of Humanist influence from appraisals of African American social thought and civil rights resistance. Whilst acknowledging the key role African American Christian ideology played in black liberation, these scholars believe it is also crucial to highlight the influence of Humanist principles of rationalism, social justice, skepticism and freethought...


No comments: