Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blacks, mirroring larger U.S. trend, 'come out' as nonbelievers

Standing before a room full of fellow African-Americans, Jamila Bey took a deep breath and announced she's come out of the closet.

Her soul-bearing declaration is nearly taboo, she says.

"It's the A-word," said Bey, 33, feigning a whisper. "You commit social suicide as a black person when you say you're an atheist."

Bey and other black atheists, agnostics and secularists are struggling to openly affirm their secular viewpoints in a community that's historically heralded as one of America's most religious.

At the first African Americans for Humanism conference recently hosted by the non-profit Center for Inquiry, about 50 people gathered to discuss the ins and outs of navigating their dual identities as blacks and followers of the non-religious philosophy known as humanism.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lost Democrats: Faith and the 2010 Elections

With most of the online world buzzing about Lost, another tale of loss caught my attention in this morning's Washington Post. It began by posing the question: "If 2008 was the year Democrats finally got religion, will 2010 be the year the party loses it again?"

The story tracked Democratic successes with faith outreach in 2005, 2006, and 2008, noting that President Obama received more votes from "churchgoing voters" than any other presidential candidate in recent elections. However, in the current election cycle, the DNC's "faith staff of more than a half-dozen has dwindled to one part-time slot." No one is tending the flock.

Those quoted in the article cited no specific reason for the change, opting instead for general explanations of economic worries. Although some will interpret it to mean that the Democratic Party is fundamentally secular and that "faith-based" outreach was always a sort of political window-dressing, I suspect that something else is happening. That "something" may well be an early indicator of a reordering of American religion and politics.

In 2004, a political science study from East Carolina University found that voters could be divided into three categories based solely on their beliefs about the Bible. Fundamentalists believed that the Bible was God's inerrant word; moderates believed that although the Bible was God's word, it wasn't to be taken literally; and biblical minimalists believed that the Bible was a human document.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Malcolm and Martin, closer than we ever thought

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was leaving a news conference one afternoon when a tall man with a coppery complexion stepped out of the crowd and blocked his path.

Malcolm X, the African-American Muslim leader who once called King "Rev. Dr. Chicken-wing," extended his hand and smiled.

"Well, Malcolm, good to see you," King said after taking Malcolm X's hand.

"Good to see you," Malcolm X replied as both men broke into huge grins while a gaggle of photographers snapped pictures of their only meeting.

That encounter on March 26, 1964, lasted only a minute. But a photo of that meeting has tantalized scholars and supporters of both men for more than 45 years.

As the 85th birthday of Malcolm X is marked on Wednesday, history has freeze-framed him as the angry black separatist who saw whites as blue-eyed devils.

Yet near the end of his life, Malcolm X was becoming more like King -- and King was becoming more like him.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Sarah Palin and the Myth of the Christian Nation

Sarah Palin joined Fox News's Bill O'Reilly recently to condemn the critics of the National Day of Prayer, saying that the Judeo-Christian belief was the basis for American law and should continue to be used as a guiding force for creating future legislation.

According to Palin, the recent backlash against the National Day of Prayer is proof that some people are trying to enact a "fundamental transformation of America" and to "revisit and rewrite history" in order to shift the Christian nation away from its spiritual roots.

Palins's advice: "Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant -- they're quite clear -- that we would create law based on the God of the bible and the ten commandments.
See the rest of the article here