I wrote an article titled “Losing my Religion: Becoming an Agnostic Atheist” and received an interesting and thought-provoking comment from a fellow writer. I believe that this dialogue that has opened up between us deserves further discussion.
After reading my article (link below), she commented:
“I gotta be honest. It hurts me when black people are atheist. I think it’s because I feel like God played a big part in how we came as far as we have. There was a point in our history when all we had was God. It seems like a betrayal for us to turn our back on him.”
I appreciate Vanity’s honest comment very much and found it profound and almost poignant.
I understand exactly what this young woman means. She is right. There were times throughout black history, as well as world history, when God or religion was all that people had to strengthen them, so that they could endure horrific conditions and deal with hardships, adversity and oppression. They may not have survived without religious faith, the concept of a loving God and the belief in a beautiful hereafter.
I understand my fellow writer when she says that there was a time when all black people had was God. Yet we must remember that “God” was bestowed upon us when we came here by force from Africa and was not black people’s original concept of a deity.
During slavery, the ancestors that were transported here practiced religion based on “Africanism”. This was considered by white people to be an occult or pagan type of religious practice. They considered “black religion” voodoo or witchcraft and were fearful of these practices. Most of it disappeared with future generations as white people sought to do away with it.
Black people had no choice but to begin to adhere to white culture and practice the religious doctrines of the day. They began to follow mostly the Baptist and Methodist faiths and white evangelical Christians endorsed and supported their migration away from Africanism to what they deemed a more acceptable religious faith and practice. Yet black people continued to hold on to some of the old traditions such as “shouting” or “speaking in tongues” etc.
My point is that black people absorbed the God of the culture that we were forced into through slavery just as we did English as our language over time.
Yes, perhaps faith got a lot of us through hard and seemingly impossible times, but the truth is that we pulled ourselves through it and out of it simply by human strength, stamina, spirit and indestructible optimism. Religious faith served as a catalyst, an enabler and a soul-strengthener so to speak.
We all must learn to embrace each other’s differences, so that we can co-exist and each can revel in their own uniqueness.
I am happy and proud that this young writer finds strength and solace in her beliefs and respects mine as well. I am also happy the she respects her/our history so much, knows of the struggles that came before us and does not take that for granted. I am overjoyed that her wonderful considerations and questionings open the door to communication and understanding of two opposing views.
Thank you, Vanity Goddess!
Read my full article “Losing my Religion: Becoming an Agnostic Atheist” at:
Check out Articles by Vanity Goddess at: http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/642941/vanity_goddess.html. She is a great young writer on all kinds of subjects and often provides some very profound and thought-provoking insights into the life experience.