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In the movie The Color Purple, sisters Celie and Nettie reunite after being separated by decades, oceans and the spite of an abusive Mister.

Running through a lush pasture, neither quite believes her fortune upon reuniting. Old women now, they stumble through the field, arms outstretched, calling to one another, “Ceeeeeelieeeee!” “Nettieeeeee!”

I got to enjoy my very own “Celie-Nettie” moment when I walked into the Center for Inquiry on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., last Sunday afternoon. The African Americans for Humanism conference hosted four to five dozen non-believers–the largest gathering of African-American atheists in history. (As a member of the Center, I was part of the planning committee, and I was also a speaker at the event; “Spare the Rod, Save Your Child,” was my topic.)

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