Although African-Americans remain a largely religious demographic, Black atheists and agnostics, such as the Black Skeptics of Los Angeles, are becoming more appealing and leaving religious faiths behind, writes University of Southern California’s Intersection South LA publication.
SEE ALSO: When Social Issues, Faith Collide
According to the American Religious Identification Survey of 2008 (ARIS 2008), the number of Black persons without any religious affiliation jumped from 6 to 11 percent between 1990 and 2008, mirroring a national trend amongst all Americans that saw a jump from 8 to 15 percent.
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“There have always been African-American free thinkers, humanists, agnostics and atheists who have really foregrounded the connection between eschewing religion and the liberation struggle, particularly as it pertains to women and the LGBT community,” said Black Skeptics of Los Angeles founder Sikivu Hutchinson to Intersections South LA. Ms. Hutchinson is part of a national effort led by the group African-Americans for Humanism, leading to a controversial billboard ad in Los Angeles openly questioning religion.
Black church leaders have sat at the table with the Black Skeptics group, coming to an understanding that many former churchgoers are fed up with the politics of the church. “They’re very turned off by the church,” said Seth Pickens, pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church. “Some of the politics and some of the scandals and everything that happens in the church, it turns people off.”
This past February, Pickens and the Black Skeptics met for a roundtable discussion and have come to an understanding that the Black community needs a unified front regardless of religious conviction.
“Whether you believe in God, whether you confess Christ or not, if you see someone hungry you should feed them and many of the Black atheists feel the same way. So, I don’t see why we can’t work together,” said Pickens.
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