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Black, atheist and living in the South
A group of black atheists meets in Atlanta.
December 8th, 2011
01:56 PM ET

Black, atheist and living in the South

By Kim Chakanetsa, CNN

Editor's note: Listen to the CNN Radio broadcast about black atheists in the South:

 (CNN) - Benjamin Burchall first realized how different his experience in the South was going to be while looking for something to watch on television on a Sunday night.

"I couldn't find anything on television but religious programming,” says Burchall, 38, a former Christian minister and agricultural consultant who moved from Long Beach, California, to Atlanta for work in 2010, “And I thought, 'Oh my God, where am I? Is this all that is on television here?'"

And he quickly found other differences from West Coast living.

"I was not used to meeting someone for the first time and having their first question be ‘what church do you go to?’"

Burchall’s proud response to such queries was, “None.” He is part of an increasingly visible minority – black atheists living in the Bible Belt.

Mandisa Thomas, a mother of three, has lived in Atlanta for more than 13 years. An atheist since her early 20s, Thomas has a two-pronged strategy when it comes to dealing with the religion question. The first is simply not talking about it unless someone else brings it up.

The second is a kind of warning: “I will ask, ‘Are you sure you want to hear this?’” she says. The goal, Thomas says, is to avoid unnecessary confrontations.

But there are other situations that are simply a part of living down South.

Take the Walmart employee who suggested Thomas come back for gospel singer Yolanda Adams’ book signing, or the stranger who approached her and asked if she was born again and implored her to turn her life to Jesus when she said she wasn’t.

“There is an assumption that black woman in particular are religious,” says Thomas.

Statistics suggest that is a fair assumption to make. A much-cited study published in 2008 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that of all the major racial and ethnic groups in the United States, black Americans are most likely to report a formal religious affiliation. Less than 1.5% of blacks identify themselves as atheist or agnostic, compared with 5% of whites and 7% of Asians.

The same study notes that nearly four of five African-Americans (79%) say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56% among all U.S.adults.

However, the trend among black Americans is toward greater levels of nonbelief. The number of blacks reporting no religion in American Religious Identification Survey almost doubled between 1990 and 2008.

In the South, this trend is witnessed by the emergence of groups such as the Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta (BNOA), and the Humanist Congregation of Greater Atlanta. The proliferation of YouTube videos and forum postings by Southern atheists also suggest a growing desire to build a community for the religiously unaffiliated.

Burchall says it’s not necessarily the case that there are more black atheists these days, “but there is an increase in the number of people coming out and saying they are black atheists.”

And there are more organizations looking to decouple black culture from religion. In January, Burchall and Thomas co-founded BNOA with the aim of bringing together black atheists who might otherwise be shunned by family and friends. Burchall and Thomas had initially joined an atheist group in Atlanta, but they wanted an organization that spoke directly to their experiences as African-Americans.

For most of American history, meaning in the African-American community has been tied to religion.

“The church has always been at the forefront of providing meaning, identity, mission and purpose for the lives of African-American people,” says Gregory Eason, the senior pastor at the historic Big Bethel AME Church in downtown Atlanta.

Many black atheists argue that Christianity was imposed on African slaves in the United States and are uneasy with how fully African-Americans have embraced it.

“It was forced on our ancestors; now their descendants have fallen for it hook, line and sinker and it has been such a part of our culture,” says Burchall.

“Oftentimes blacks believe that Christianity is black culture, and if you are not Christian you are not part of the community,” he says. “After all, it was Christianity that helped us through slavery times and the civil rights movement.”

For Mario Dorsey, an Atlanta native, Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta helped him feel comfortable with moving away from that tradition.

“I joined because I felt that in the black community religion was much more of a social movement, almost like a mass hypnotism,” Dorsey says. “It felt pretty cool to be part of a group that actually thought like I do.”

Like many black atheists, Dorsey does not announce his atheism loudly.

“For the most part I don’t walk around with atheist on my shoulder," he says. "Most people won’t know unless they ask me, but when I am asked I get this really weird reaction as if I’d said I torture monkeys for a living or something. It’s really weird.”

Dorsey acts as the organization’s lead online administrator. The role is particularly important as the Internet has played a significant role in recruiting members. Thomas, the current president, estimates they have about 30 people who regularly attend meetings. The community online is even larger, with up to 150 members.

Burchall, who left Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta in June this year to pursue other opportunities, has since founded another organization, the Humanist Congregation of Greater Atlanta.

Dominique Huff, another lifelong Atlantan, the son of a preacher, first heard about Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta on Facebook. He says he became a nonbeliever in high school.

It hasn't been particularly easy living in a city where “it’s always, ‘Have a blessed day,’ and you see churches on every street corner,” he says. But since 2000, Huff has slowly chosen to embrace his nonbelief, a decision that has not been easy for his minister mother.

“She is kind of in denial about it,” Huff says. “It is not a conversation we have. She still tries to pray with me. I pray along with her. I am like, ‘That’s where you at; that’s not for me.' There is like an invisible line we just never talk about.”

The online conversation is particularly vibrant, with numerous YouTube postings and blogs addressing the cultural taboo. A posting dated February 24, 2011, found on the Atheist Nexus, an umbrella networking organization, spoke of the difficulty of being black, atheist and homosexual in Mississippi. The member has since started a ‘secret’ Facebook group targeting other atheists and in April 2011 noted that of the 85 atheists who had joined, 10 were black.

The impetus for starting the group was made clear in a posting that read: “given how obsessed people in Mississippi are with Christianity, being an atheist here is very isolating and difficult. Add to that the fact that I'm Black and non-heterosexual, and we're talking social suicide.”

On ExChristian.net, a posting by a member identified as ‘kclark’ details the struggles of growing up in a religious household as a gay atheist in a small town in central Louisiana.

YouTube has become an especially popular outlet for African-Americans to declare their atheism. Jeremiah, a 20-year-old ‘living somewhere in the heart of the bible belt’ in April last year uploaded a video arguing that faith and the Bible are not evidence that God exists and affirming that he is proud to be an atheist. In a video uploaded in September 2009, Marquell Garrett, who is based in North Augusta, South Carolina, addresses the oft-asked question: where are the black atheists?

Garrett concludes that the consequences of declaring oneself an atheist in the black community have resulted in many nonbelievers remaining closeted.

Garrett also runs a blog titled Atheist Fighting Back Keeping Strong and Speaking Out‘ where he writes of his experiences of coming out as an atheist at age 14 in South Carolina.

Not all postings are related to a rejection of Christianity, however. A YouTube video by a member based in Birmingham, Alabama, who identifies himself as Bilal3700 details why he left Islam to become an atheist.

Unlike other parts of the South where activities by black atheists remain online, Atlanta appears to be spearheading the momentum with the creation of nonbeliever organizations such as the Humanist Congregation of Greater Atlanta, which allow a previously marginalized minority a voice and a community that goes beyond anonymous avatars.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Georgia • United States

soundoff (1,233 Responses)
  1. Mike

    I have a deep respect for those atheists who are able to survive in such a heavily Christian society. I am very familiar with the isolation and frustration of being a religious outcast.

    December 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • TimTheus

      You make of the world what you want it to be. Yes, there is isolation since a lot of "community" happens in church environments. My guiding rule is this: faith or non-belief are Personal things. Believe what you want, in your home, your church, but don't impose your value system on me or public schools, government or public life in general. I'll respect your faith if respect my spirituality. We'll get along just fine along those lines. Amen. ; -)

      December 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  2. Justin

    This is the second article I have read recently about black atheists! Being black, an atheist and living in Texas I think this article fantastic! I can't help but laugh at these posts though. While I am passionate about being an atheist I realize that most people do not posess the intellectual capacity to comprehend the world sans god. Keep on keeping on my black atheist brothers and sisters!

    December 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Richard

      Awesome and you're probably right. I've met several people that refuse to believe in science if it goes against what's in the bible. By nature science is neutral and only shows you what's there.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Bob

      I'm white, male, straight and live in Chicago – it's still a problem for us – given, not nearly as bad. I am convinced that Christian managers routinely discriminate against employees. Other religious cults do the same. I'm sick of it.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Aces2Jokers

      Hoorah!!!! Much strength to you in your endeavors.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  3. palintwit

    There is more child molesting, sister boinking and other incestuous relationships in the bible belt than anywhere else in the world. After all, aren't these Sarah Palin's real Americans ?

    December 9, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Marlin

      Bigot

      December 9, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Bob

      Marlin, this is the truth.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Richard

      It's true, ever think about how Mary was a kid when she had Jesus and how Joseph was in his late 20s if not older? Plus how do you imagine humanity started when there was only Adam and Eve and they had sons and daughters that then spread across the world? Sounds to me like their sons and daughters were pretty much sleeping with each other.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • NJBob

      Absolutely true. It's been demonstrated in multiple studies.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  4. sunpacific

    More power to them. In our nation, the media and population at large speak of discrimination against Christians. While African Americans, Women, and the GLBT community have made great strides in attaining equal rights, atheists are still treated as pariah. It is odd how logic and reason are denigrated while "faith" is elevated.

    December 9, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  5. Ancienttheory

    its funny with all the religions and different gods how do they all coexist? They are so powerful but have not been seen in how long? Its sad all the time and energy wasted on religion. I am glad to see that the non believers are growing in numbers!!

    December 9, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • DefyTheGods

      Actually, "God" or gods have never been seen. To have been raised an atheist is one thing, but to become one is truly impressive; especially in light of the power of religious indoctrination. I'm black, and was brought up in the Church. It takes a great deal of energy in the form of free thinking to let go of god worship. The ONLY reason I would have to believe in "God' is that someone says; "There's a God, and the Bible is His word!' I've been to churches(as an atheist), and the only energy I've felt was that of the church members. It's a human experience being mistaken for something "divine". LOL

      December 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  6. Hi, I'm Rich B, and I have a really big bank account

    I'm not Catholic, but understand why some are so devout. They believe in Apostolic succession.

    December 9, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Hi there big rich fella!! I give you long time sucky for $20.00!

      December 9, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  7. Curious

    Cedar Rapids: "you dont need religion to have morals or ethics" This is most certainly true, but are mine the same as yours? Why should I trust your sense of morals and ethics? Or anyone's?

    December 9, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • BRC

      You shouldn't from a survival sense. That's why societies make laws, and have measures in place to enforce those laws. IT doesn't matter what people's different mroal codes are on minute issues, as long as they can come together on the large issues that affect one another and establish a social contract (ie. laws), under which everyone agrees to live. Then you don't have to trust, or care what their persoanl beliefs are. You know what behavior they've agreed to, adn you know what is available to see to it that is how they behave.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • also curious

      Typical response.
      The morals your church teaches you doesn't mean you will follow them. I'm speaking about people as a whole. Seems everytime I turn around, I hear about another church pastor, priest, church youth director etc that has not. Why should I trust that you will act the way your book tells you to?

      December 9, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Bob

      As an atheist, and as a scientist and logician, it is very clear that all humans act to achieve a certain goal based on their past experience in the context of current environmental conditions. All past experience indicates that if you mistreat people bad things will happen to you. If you destroy your environment, you will die. If you eat junk you will get sick. Etc., etc., etc. Being immoral, for those who accept these facts, would be to act knowingly in such a way to bring about bad consequences to anyone and any life form. This is the logical conclusion of being an atheist and it is a superior position than any religion would have you believe.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Curious

      BRC: It would seem that a social contract on which any system of laws depends might only be an agreement between self-interested individuals, perpetuated by individuals by an act of will as a matter of self-interest. Couldn't it, then, be easily suspended at any time? Renewed only as self-interest requires it? All agreements between people would be weak at best – and any system of morality and ethics that depends on such agreements.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • BRC

      Its strength of the contrtact is dependent on the stability of the body enforcing it. Yes, at any moment one member of a Social Conntract can choose to break away from it, but that also means they are no longer under its protection.

      If you haev 100 familys, with 5 different major belief sets, that agree on a town charter, and at any time there 15 people (from a rotation of the households) devoted to definding the charter, with others available to help in an emergncy, the rules should be pretty well followed. Even if one family decides to ignore the contract, they would be crushed by teh other 99 if they acted against any of the individual families still under protection. Since it isn't in that one rogue family's interset to take on an overwhelming authority, they very likely won't do it (because humans are hard wired to look out for number 1).

      If you had a smaller group, or if multiple families decide to break away, then the society wasn't stable enough, and was doomed to failure anyway. It works perfectly fine, with or without religions, and has since humans started living in groups. (a more contemporary example being state and federal constutions in the US, enforced by the police and in emergencies the national guard).

      December 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Curious

      Bob – I would say that yours is the logical conclusion of being Bob, not of being an atheist. Atheism has nothing to say about morality and ethics. It is simply a statement that there are no gods. As most people do, you've tacked on a (hopefully) consistent and socially acceptable system of principles that will enable you to act as a member of your society.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Curious

      BRC I would guess that the strength of the social contract lies in the assumption that whatever it is we are doing works for now, plus a sort of inertial confinement of individuals who don't want to have to rethink what they are doing from one moment to the next. Perhaps this is "stability".

      December 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • BRC

      While there is always a sense of inertia with a large group, the beauty of a social contract that is derived from thought and discussion by the members of the group and not from a "higher authority", is that the contract can always be renegotiated. It should never be easy to change the law, but in a properly structured society there is always a (non-violent) means to update the laws as the culture matures and developes.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  8. Johnston J

    It is pretty hilarious reading the comments of the religious here getting seriously butt hurt that there are people that don't believe and it offends them. Lost count of the amount of religious that have started some sort of victim thread, or tried to belittle the non-religious because in this article (where atheists are trying to be non-confrontational in at least 4 paragraphs), they said, "I can't go anywhere without being asked to go to church or be told to have a blessed day!" As if either were RUINING THEIR LIVES AND OH GOSH I'M SO OPPRESSED! You people came here with an axe to grind, this article is harmless and inoffensive but way to be yourselves.

    December 9, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  9. Hilda

    The first thing that struck me funny with this article was that he said "Oh my God......" I thought he was an atheist???

    December 9, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Aces2Jokers

      I prefer the term "By Zeus!!!" lol

      December 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Marlin

      By the Nine Divines!

      December 9, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • BRC

      8 Divines now, if you follow the Imperial laws.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • NeptunesTrident

      Great Oden's Beard!

      December 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  10. Techwiz

    I guess it evades most people that the original belief system of africans was destroyed and that in order to have treatment under slavery that was more "humane" slaves were forced to display how much they had been indoctrinated by te white mans belief system, The more they "Got the ghost" "fell out and hollered" the less likely they would be treated severely e.g. adoption of the new name versus resisting the new name. This was in fact forced upon an entire race of people and its root is racisim, Iosus from which Jesus is Derived means Hail Zeus, so even in its root we find racisim. These western belief systems speak to 6,000 years being the only relevant period in human history, but we find a 77,000 year old Sleeping mat in africa. Thier God ignored all of humanity until white came from black and then humanity was worthy of Gods guidance and love, is that right?? The papyrus developed in kemet and the library stood empty until good loving Greeks showed up and actually used the paper and library right??

    Yah makes sense...

    December 9, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  11. blaqb0x

    If there's nothing on TV on Sunday just watch the Atheist Experience live stream (or watch on Youtube)

    December 9, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • ....

      "Your son is playing my meat flute"

      Grow up

      December 9, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  12. rcj112

    An atheist that says, "Oh my God"? OMG!!!

    December 9, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • remy730

      LOL, same thing I thought, then stopped reading shortly after........

      December 9, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • ....

      Usually it's "Fukin Jesus Christ"

      December 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • David

      Its simply an expression that is a habit that is hard to quit.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • BRC

      I use that and any other blasphemous exclamation I can think of "Sweet Jesus Biscuits!" because I find them funny, and because the purpose of an exclamation is to get someone's attention, putting religious figures in strange situations tends to accomplish that rather well- "Holy Rolling Moses, there's a snake over here!".

      December 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • pattyo27

      If you stopped reading at that quote, you have no business annoying us with a post.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  13. alex

    Organized religion – last bastion for the ignorant and for those that molest children.

    December 9, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Theist&proud

      stop stereotyping religious people

      December 9, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • ....

      "stop stereotyping religious people"

      stop stereotyping atheist people

      December 9, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • elflander

      No. There's also college football.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  14. Deany Jim

    Mmhmmm and we care about this... why? Fluff. Marshmallow fluff, that's all this is. That's what the majority of "stories" on CNN are.

    December 9, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  15. stickyd

    Once again Atheists, it's your right to not believe in God and you shouldn't be made fun of or ridiculed for being this way. However, Atheists should and must extend the same courtesy to the believers. Far too often (even on this particular message board), Atheists make fun of believers for following a "fairy tale" or "false facts". Why does it bother Atheists so much that someone believes in a God? Live your life the way you want, and let Christians live life the way they want. Why is that so hard to understand?

    December 9, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • sam

      so well put ... great comment

      December 9, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • warmesTghosT

      It bothers us because you legislate your antiquated and ultimately evil morality into our legislature.

      What is so wrong with gays that you don't believe they should be allowed to marry? What did they do to you?

      What is so wrong with abortion that you don't want women to be allowed to have them to preserve their mental and physical health?

      What is so unbelievable about climate change that you're willing to risk our childrens' future based on the belief that God will come down and fix everything for us?

      If you ACTUALLY left us alone, we'd extend you the same courtesy.

      That's not how it works, though.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Because you stick your noses into politics, muscle into the schools, and flaunt your religious holidays for weeks at a time, attempting to impose your religion on the rest of us. Why is it that you can't understand that?

      December 9, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Sean

      One of my friends is militantly atheist.. He says that when he sees a sign that says "Merry Christmas" he thinks its a personal note to him telling him that he is going to hell because he does not believe in Jesus.. So he doesnt feel any shame in demeaning people who believe in Jesus.. Especially if they have the audacity to tell him Merry Christmas.. Last year I heard him reply back to someone who said "Merry Christmas" at the grocery store with a GFYS... I went to Catholic school long enough to know that I dont believe in God personally but I still have respect for people that do.. Needless to say I dont bring up religion when he is around..

      December 9, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • sunblur

      Atheists are saying something about what they are experiencing ... it's not a bad thing to end your religious practice ... in time all of us will need to do just that!

      Perhaps most have not seen the fact that religion is getting in the way ... if your hands are not getting dirty serving the poor then you would be advised to dump your religion and seek to be open to Spirituality

      December 9, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • stickyd

      @warmestTghost did I say I didn't support gay marriage or pro-choice (in certain situations)? No. Just another baseless jab by an atheists that wants his way or the highway. For the record, I support a recognized civil union for gay couples where they have the same rights and benefits as a married couple. Atheists and Liberals are one in the same. You get angry when someone doesn't side with you or have the same opinion or goals. You'll learn one of these days the err of your ways. Have a happy life b/c you seem way too angry to be successful and truly happy.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • ....

      "For the record, I support a recognized civil union for gay couples where they have the same rights and benefits as a married couple. Atheists and Liberals are one in the same. You get angry when someone doesn't side with you or have the same opinion or goals. You'll learn one of these days the err of your ways. Have a happy life b/c you seem way too angry to be successful and truly happy."

      Pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot.

      The log in your eye is making you blind angry one.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • stickyd

      @EnjaySea It's Freedom OF Religion not Freedom FROM Religion. Now shut your mouth and move on.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • DontShoveYourReligionDownMyThroat

      stickyd

      "Once again Atheists, it's your right to not believe in God and you shouldn't be made fun of or ridiculed for being this way. However, Atheists should and must extend the same courtesy to the believers. Far too often (even on this particular message board), Atheists make fun of believers for following a "fairy tale" or "false facts". Why does it bother Atheists so much that someone believes in a God? Live your life the way you want, and let Christians live life the way they want. Why is that so hard to understand?"

      Christianity and any other faith-based religion indoctrinates children at a young age and teaches them to accept things without thought, logic, or proof. What we have in this country is generation after generation of people who blindly accept theories, policies, and actions enforced upon them and they will not question it. These people are voting and making decisions about MY LIBERTIES because of their faith. Because their pastor/mother/father/teacher told them so. How many times have people told you they voted for someone or something because their religion dictates it be so?

      We share the same country and the same planet. As long as you continue to vote ignorance and injustice into my country, and devalue my freedoms, I will continue to fight against Christianity. It is a poison to this country and I am sick of having it crammed down my throat as if I should be expected to be a submissive thoughtless sheep.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • The Bobinator

      > Once again Atheists, it's your right to not believe in God and you shouldn't be made fun of or ridiculed for being this way.

      You are 100% completely wrong. Everyone's position should be subject to ridicule. That's the only way stupid ideas are tossed aside and good ones remain.

      > However, Atheists should and must extend the same courtesy to the believers. Far too often (even on this particular message board), Atheists make fun of believers for following a "fairy tale" or "false facts".

      No, we don't have to extend some respect to your nonsense. You act like atheism and theism are equal. They're not. Atheism is the logical default position for the existence for God where there is no evidence. Faith and belief are gullibility.

      > Why does it bother Atheists so much that someone believes in a God?

      Because it's those people who try to make laws based on nonsense and belief rather then facts and observation. Gay marriage being a perfect example.

      > Live your life the way you want, and let Christians live life the way they want. Why is that so hard to understand?

      You can live your life the way you want. You're not immune for criticism though. I can live my life wearing my butt on my head, does it mean I should be immune from criticism? Let's say I'm a racist. Should my beliefs that race X are inferior to race Y should be off bounds for ridicule?

      You have no understanding of what being an american is. What you want is an erosion of freedom of speech so that you don't have to feel uncomfortable. Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

      There is no God to protect you from evil things and to save you from death. Deal with it.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Really? My comment comes across as "angry"?

      Just another foolish and uninformed opinion from a Christian about how all atheists are "angry and sad" humans.

      Oh so you support "civil unions" for gays but not marriage. Because, you know, Larry King's seven marriages, or Kim Kardashian's 72 day marriage, or Britney Spears' 55 hour marriage, THOSE don't demean the true meaning of marriage! But those gays, they don't deserve to have happy, consensual and monogamous relationships that are viewed equally as us straights! No sir no way no how! The Bible says its wrong SO ITS WRONG!!!!111!

      Hey thanks for telling me I'm unhappy and unsuccessful because I'm an atheist without knowing a damn thing about me.

      Typical Christian.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      The christian @stickyd posts the following message directed at me: "It's Freedom OF Religion not Freedom FROM Religion. Now shut your mouth and move on."

      First of all, you are incorrect in your assesment. Freedom of religion implies allowing all beliefs (and that includes the lack of belief) without being told to "shut our mouths and move on" - exactly what christians have been saying to the non-believers for centuries. Your domination of society is ending. Get used to it.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  16. stacy100

    Really? This is a story? God help CNN!

    December 9, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • sam

      hahahaha .. nice one .. but I agree no story here

      December 9, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Scott in Atlanta

      CNN needs a "Non Belief" section for stuff like this; since that's the only kind of story they can ever seem to find for the "Belief" section. Followers of Christ are under attack in every modern area. So much so, that the mantle of "Christian" has been strategically hung around the necks of a certain political persuasion in an obvious attempt to link their unpopularity/foolishness with the faith. (Even though MOST, if not all of what they espouse is not biblical) Aaaaaand with the "agendas" of many today, Christianity could possibly find itself back in the dark times of the faith. Persecution is more prevelent now in it's verbal form, but how long before true persecution of faith is tolerated???

      Note: This is not a Republican or Democrat issue.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • NJBob

      @Scott in Atlanta - Nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense!

      December 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  17. John S.

    Another racist rant by CNN.

    December 9, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Aces2Jokers

      You only see it as racist because you don't quite understand the situation. As a black atheist myself who does live in the "Bible Belt", it is quite polarizing. A lot of others in the entire community let alone the black community do not want to deal with you as they see you as an outsider who is trying to "corrupt their soul" instead of somebody who is just trying to live their lives in their own way. In short don't open your mouth about things you know nothing about.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • pattyo27

      I don't find this racist at all. Where are you people coming up with this notion? I'm a caucasion woman living in south FL. I've dealt with groups of all kinds. However, I do see those of African-descent (we all really are, I know, but you catch my drift), including islanders and African-Americans, tend to claim to be highly religious. Most often, they affiliate themselves with Christianity. As an atheist, myself, it's harder here, than in Philly, to come out as an atheist. This doesn't mean I don't do it...boisterously. However, people here have been significantly nastier to me once they find out, as compared to other places I've lived, outside of the South. All of the opposition in the world, however, will never get me to stop conveying my beliefs, as long as I have to listen to the others convey theirs.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  18. Moogle

    Why do all atheists speak as though the only theists are Christians ? There are 1.6 billion Muslims, around 1 billion Hindu, 500 million Buddhists, 500 million folk religions, 500 million Chinese folk religions (including Taoism and Confucianism). But most the the talk is against Christianity.

    December 9, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      Gotta go with the devil you know.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Daryn

      Probably because most of them are surrounded by Christian Theist, and those are the Theist they deal with on a daily basis. I get your point though. I am guessing that Atheist in Pakistan probably usually target Muslim Theist when they criticize Theist. People views are generally framed by their experience, which is highly affected by their setting and location.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Littleone

      Well, the article is talking about living in the "Bible Belt." So the people they are having these encounters with are Christian.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Greg

      We're talking about the US here. Most other religions don't cause any issues here, particularly the eastern and pagan ones. Christians are primarily the ones who affect our government, try to enforce religious based laws here, and screw up education and science based on their religious beliefs. If they'd leave other people alone, stop preaching at everybody they run into, and accept that we have a secular government and secular laws, then most atheists probably wouldn't care what they believe either.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • The Bobinator

      Because most of the people who post deal with Christianity more then other religions?

      December 9, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • blaqb0x

      When was the last time a Budhist, Muslims, Hindus, etc came knocking on my door or try to change our laws to suit their religion.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • GB

      Ummm... do you realize that some of the "theisms" that you mention don't believe in god? There are a lot of "-isms" out there that place their faith in man and states of being.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Uncle Baire

      THANK YOU, Moogie!!! A Buddhist is not considered an atheist because they do not subscribe to Christianity, as with other religious sect(s). Christianity has gotten(and has always gotten) people all screwed up.

      Religion has destroyed more lives than it has ever saved. Recognizing and adhering to "spirituality" is one thing...but the organized doctrine of religion is archaic insanity.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  19. Cal

    Now if this chick was the one that hung a confedrate flag in her window, that would have been an interesting story.

    December 9, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  20. stickyd

    Only CNN can turn a story about Atheists into a racist story. So blacks are predominately Christians b/c slave owners forced them to be. Dang white man ruining everything for blacks again. There is just no way for a black to be successful or move up in this world........oh wait, it's the easiest way this day and time. Never mind!

    December 9, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • stacy100

      Amen!

      December 9, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Aces2Jokers

      Well stickyd this is where reading for meaning comes into play. Your level of reading comprehension is either really low or you just said this to get a rise out of people. At no point did CNN advocate anything about Blacks being held back by religion. What you're missing is that for Black Atheists, a lot of them cite the fact that the Bible was used to subjogate Blacks during slavery and choose to not follow. In fact the only reason it was brought up in this article was because one of the people interviewed brought up this point. Pay attention and take off your blinders. If you look for racism in everything you'll find it in everything. Let me guess you're mad that white doesn't show up in the rainbow right? Prisms are racists. 🙂

      December 9, 2011 at 11:50 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.