From The Members

Posts made by the members of the Black Atheists Facebook page.

How Religion is Used As Emotional Blackmail/GUEST AUTHOR

by Raven Burnes

                       The hymn ended and the preacher launched into a highly emotional and symbolic sermon, recounting how our mothers had given birth to us, how they had nursed us from infancy, how they had tended us when we were sick, how they had seen us grow up, how they had watched over us, how they had always known what was best for us. He then called for yet another hymn, which was hummed. He chanted above it in a melancholy tone:

                        “Now, I’m asking the first mother who really loves her son to bring him to me for baptism!”

                        Goddam, I thought. It had happened quicker than I had expected. My mother was looking steadily at me.

                        “Come, son, let your old mother take you to God,” she begged. “I brought you into the world, now let me help to save you.”

                        She caught my hand and I held back.

                        “I’ve been as good a mother as I could,” she whispered through her tears.

                        “God is hearing every word,” the preacher underscored her plea.

                        This business of saving souls had no ethics; every human relationship was shamelessly exploited. In essence, the tribe was asking us whether we shared its feelings; if we refused to join the church, it was equivalent to saying no, to placing ourselves in the position of moral monsters. One mother led her beaten and frightened son to the preacher amid shouts of amen and hallelujah.

                        “Don’t you love your old crippled mother, Richard?” my mother asked. “Don’t leave me standing here with my empty hands, she said, afraid that I would humiliate her in public.

                        It was no longer a question of my believing in God; it was no longer a matter of whether I would steal or lie or murder; it was a simple, urgent matter of public pride, a matter of how much I had in common with other people. If I refused, it meant that I did not love my mother, and no man in that tight little black community had ever been crazy enough to let himself be placed in such a position. My mother pulled my arm and I walked with her to the preacher and shook his hand, a gesture that made me a candidate for baptism. There were more songs and prayers; it lasted until well after midnight. I walked home limp as a rag; I had not felt anything except sullen anger and a crushing sense of shame. Yet I was somehow glad that I had got it over with; no barriers now stood between me and the community.

                        “Mama, I don’t feel a thing,” I told her truthfully.

                        “Don’t you worry; you’ll grow into feeling it,” she assured me.

                        And when I confessed to the other boys that I felt nothing, they too admitted that they felt nothing.

                        “But the main thing is to be a member of the church,” they said (Wright 154-155).

I am currently reading Richard Wright’s autobiography Black Boy, and scenes like the one above are plentiful. Religion and “faith” are waved around like a spiked billy club designed to usher all wayward freethinkers into submission. I was struck by how little has changed in terms of how much pressure is put on people to make a “decision” for God – a decision that seems to be more about other people – and their power and reputation – than it is about you.

I realize that this pressure probably has evolutionary origins. We are a social species. Family/tribe membership has always been essential for our survival. Nevertheless, as we continue to evolve as a species, our concept of “the tribe” is necessarily expanding. With this expansion, I am hopeful that the outdated emotional blackmail used to bully children – and anyone who thinks differently – into religion will fall away as well.

 

Work Cited

Wright, Richard. Black Boy (American Hunger): A Record of Childhood and Youth. New York: Perennial Classics, 1998. 154-155. Print.

 

 

praying

“Only people who believe in god have the capacity for goodness.” | Guest Author

By Camille McGregor

Earlier today, I was riding in the car with my boyfriend to go and get something to eat. As he was driving, we passed by a car that had come to a full stop right in the middle of a lane. The driver had the hazard lights on. While my boyfriend had continued to drive past the car, I mentioned that I felt bad for the woman in the car because she appeared to be having car trouble. At this point, I was starving but my boyfriend decided to pull around and go back to offer the woman assistance.
We pulled up behind the woman’s car. My boyfriend exited the car and went over to the woman’s car. As I sat in the car, I  saw the exchange he had with her. After speaking to her for what seemed like a half an hour  (because I was so hungry) but in reality was only about ten minutes,  he pushed her car off of the busy road and onto the side of the street so that she could wait in a safer location for a tow truck. A few minutes later, the woman and my boyfriend walked back across the street to where I was seated in the car. I  opened the door to speak with her. Before I could introduce myself,  she belted out, “thank you guys so much for all of your help!” She thanked me for bringing it to my boyfriend’s attention that she seemed as if she may need some help and told me that she was insisting on giving my boyfriend some money for helping her, but he kept refusing to accept it. “So many people drove around me and kept driving. No one offered to help,” she said. She asked for my number and I told her to give me a call and let us know that everything worked out. My boyfriend helped her to cross the busy road,  she thanked him again and he returned to the car.

I am an atheist and so is my boyfriend. One may ask how we were able to bring ourselves to help another human being and be kind to her in her time of need when both of us are void of religion. My answer; religion is not synonymous with morality. One does not need religion to know right from wrong or to have the ability to empathize with others. There are way more believers in the world than non-believers. I am certain the majority of people that saw this woman in a bind and continued to move on without offering any assistance, were believers. However, it took two little non-believers to stop and offer assistance to their fellow human being. Why? Because at the core of who we are, we are good people. I was able to feel for that woman because I imagined how I would feel if I were in her position. My boyfriend decided to go back and help her because he could see that I felt for that woman and he himself is a helpful person at his core. These traits and feelings come from shared humanity, not shared religion.

Many of us as atheists have experienced people assuming or questioning our morality or moral standards because we are not believers. They can not understand and refuse to believe that you can have a good moral compass if you are devoid of religion. This assumption has never seized to not piss me off. I do not need religion to guide me, be my moral compass or to teach me how to be a good person. The universal understanding of humanity is to treat folks how you want to be treated and that is exactly what I do. That is common sense to human beings born with intrinsic moral compasses. As a child, I didn’t turnover another’s kid’s chair so that he or she would fall because I knew if someone did that to me I would be embarrassed. I knew this and understood this before setting foot in anyone’s church or being spoken to about any sort of religious belief. If you ask me, if you need a religious text or someone to tell you to be kind, not hurt others or treat others well in order for you to do so, you are the one with the problem.

I believe that most people are innately good. They do not need man-made entities or belief systems to make them be good. On the contrary, religion has had an overwhelming influence of presenting people with the opportunity to be bad. It has presented people with the opportunity to unfairly judge others, to treat others poorly, to separate themselves from others, to use scare and fear tactics to get people to submit and obey. All in the name of religion. So much bad has been washed away and swept under the rug because it occurred in the name of religion. At the end of the day, my own humanity and my ability to sympathize and empathize with the humanity of others makes me good. In fact, if we look at the history of religion and its present we will see that there are millions of people with religion that have been capable of tremendous bad. The presence of religion does not ensure goodness any more than the absence of religion ensures badness.

The Ten Commandments of Atheism/Guest Author

by Raven Burnes

Last night I went to my very first Atheist gathering.  It was with Atheists United, San Fernando Valley Meetup in Los Angeles County. I really didn’t know what to expect, but it was great. The discussion was intelligent and everyone there had an amazing sense of humor. Before the meeting ended, we voted on the topic for the next meeting. One of the ideas, which got rejected, was “what would the 10 commandments of atheism be?” Since the idea intrigues me, I’ve decided throw my hat in the ring and offer the following.

The Ten Commandments of Atheism

  • Thou shalt have no God, gods, nor woo-woo superstitious clap-trap before thee, as thou hast a brain.
  • Thou shalt accept nothing on faith, nor hope, nor desire alone.
  • Thou shalt think for thyself, relying not upon the inherited beliefs, nor the cultural superstitions, of thy kinsmen.
  • Thou shalt subject all manner of statement and belief to rigorous contemplation, testing all things with logic, evidence, and clarity of thought.
  • Thou shalt love, honor, and care for all human, animal, and plant life – and all that which dost support it – if thou dost desire peace, joy, and longevity in the land.
  • Thou shalt balance the desires of thy animal flesh with the longings of the elevated consciousness which thou hast acquired – for thou art an evolved and evolving being.
  • Thou shalt enjoy and honor every day as a day to sanctify it, as thy days are surely numbered.
  • Thou shalt respect the laws of the land in which thou dwelst, unless such laws do violence to the freedom, happiness, and honor of any living creature, and until such time as such offending laws be discarded through legal process.
  • Thou shalt speak not of a literal hell, nor inflict such primitive and shameless implements of fear upon thy fellow creatures – especially thine own young – lest thou be thought a fool, yes, even a manipulative twit.
  • Verily I say unto thee: thou shalt respect all manner of diversity among thee, as such behavior is the mark of intelligent beings.

So, those are mine. What would your “ten commandments” be?

Amanda Marcotte Quote

Atheist are routinely asked how people will know not to rape and murder without religion telling them not to do it, especially a religion that backs up the orders with threats of hell. Believers, listen to me carefully when I say this: When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. We hear you saying that the only thing standing between you and Ted Bundy is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literate people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority.
Amanda Marcotte

From The Members: Why?

bc

Here’s a message that I wanted to give to my fellow black atheists.

Why is it that we should be scared to show our faces and express our beliefs openly in the black community? Why is it that the word acceptance is just an illusion-like word conjured up by Webster in order to increase our vocabulary but have no substantial value in its worth to be brought upon into out fellow brother and sisters mind? Many times I have been based for my belief and having to also “blend in” to the populous in order not to offend them, but from my perception, their stubbornness is what deeply offends me. Everybody has a right to believe in what they want to believe in, but from what I have seen and, have gone through, that reality is false. From the dawn of time man has created gods for the idea of control in order to bring answers to questions that could not be answered, but thanks to modern day science, questions can finally be answered without someone saying, “It’s because of god that has happened?” I was raised in a Baptist church for a majority of my childhood and didn’t really enjoy going there from all the judges and cynical people who claimed to be saints but at the end of church go right back to how they were before as though the word “God” or the pastors preaching’s were never spoken in their presence. Many questions came to my head as a child when I was in the church and I have read the bible but let me tell you. A lot of stuff in there just doesn’t make any sence whatsoever. People use god as a defense mechanism when they have no intelligent way of explaining things thoroughly. Christians are easy to read about the Old Testament but not the history of the world. I would type more but I would like to get some feed back on this if it would not be a bother to you. I am not afraid to show my face cause a majority of the people I associate with and family already know about my beliefs. –Kessmine F.

 

“Science Doesn’t Benefit Us”

Excuse me but, what?! One of my contributor’s friends (obviously a religious nut-job) had this to say on our Facebook page:

Do you even logic?

Do you even logic?

The greatest rebuttal to said nonsense was that of one of our members:

“Dear atheists, can science protect you?” – It already has. Thanks to science I am able to go to the doctor and get antibiotic when I’m sick. My car is also safer to drive thanks to scientific tests and analysis. 

“Did science expand your breast with your initial breath?” – Science itself can not do anything. We learn how phenomena take place and how nature works through science.

“Your promotion of science is enabling governments to take actions based on equations. Not based on wisdom seeking justice or justice seeking wisdom; the infinite equation.” – Our promotion of science? Science is not only promoted by Atheists, it has always been promoted and was pioneered by theists. Wisdom is nothing more than learning your faults over time and reflecting on what could have been to better the outcome of those faults. That is a general form of science in the scale of a lifetime regarding personal choices.

“Equations that do not benefit community, sustaining freedom and natural rights. Yes, you have been deceived before and now in combative nature you seek to be deceived at your own game.” – Equations such as 1+1 or the observation that homosexuality is not unnatural and therefore should not be banned? Last I checked, it was specific faiths trying to inhibit our nature, not science. Science does nothing but explains how it is that nature works and theorizes as to why.

“Rather than to continue to trust in God and revive your faith.” If you pledge covenant to one, how can you another? I assure you, if you pledge covenant to science, the damnation of your youth in inevitable.” – Okay, this is fucking ridiculous. First off, you can accept science (which is the study of nature and natural laws through a process which allows us to try to bypass our biases because they have a tendency to cloud the truth) and still be religious. As a believer, you probably think that God is outside of the laws of nature and is eternal. With that belief in place, there is nothing to say that God didn’t create the Universe. If you want to believe that He did, that’s fine, but you can’t ignore everything within his creation and then tell us that WE’RE damned for actually accepting it.

For those of you who are religious yet reject science, you are more blind then I, I assure you. If, for the sake of argument, God exists and has created everything that we observe in the natural world, and we use the process of science to be more conclusive about our observations, by denying what we find, aren’t you in essence denying your God’s creation as well? – Theresa C.

Coming Out As Atheist

I know it’s been awhile since I have made a post but I have been very busy lately with the Air Force and two jobs. But on to the topic.

So If you have read some of my older post, you will see that I wasn’t big on letting people know that I’m an atheist. Lately this has changed. Now I have found myself telling more and more people, and to my surprise, most people treat me the same.

atheist_scarlet_letterI have found that most people (well most younger people) don’t give two shits about what I believe in. Hell most of them don’t really even know if they believe in god. I personally think they are agnostic and don’t realize it. Now the older people are a little more judgmental about what I believe in. Some of them have taken the time to delete me on Facebook, write me long messages about how I will go to hell and that they are praying for god to save my soul, and even trying to tarnish my name.

But overall I can say that things are going pretty good and it feels a lot better being able to tell some people. I still haven’t told my close relatives (dad, grandpa, grandma, uncle, aunt) yet. I think I will wait until I leave with the Air Force in May before  I do that. I would hate to have bad blood between us and I have to stay around and deal with it.

Rodney