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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. CJ

    Benjamin Burchall is a hero.

    One by one, we are making religious nuts/ regular religious people realize billions disagree with them. Ergo, its just your own shallow, insulated, childhood-inherited religion that you think is 'real.' It is constructed. It is historical. It is silly.

    None of us want to eradicate religion. If it keeps you guys happy, fine. Enjoy it. At home. Not in churches that avoid taxes and take our money.

    But we will persist in teaching you all that you learned your views as kids, you don't understand them well, and your parroting of god/jesus/heaven/rapture are medieval at best, and most importantly, do great harm.

    Hence, you are not doing good deeds.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • B Nakka

      He is creating a church of atheists. Just because you don't call a church does not mean it is not one. The picture in the article what does it mean? They are doing what they know about organized religion. Meeting and discussing their views just like most christian fellowships do. You are insane to think this is novel.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • CJ

      So your argument is we can't meet, anywhere, any how, to discuss how to counter religious fundamentalism?

      NO sitting on seats. NO gathering. NO sharing of strategies?

      Thought so.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • moonster

      Take your money? Explain that. I think only in Europe they tax the people for upkeep of centuries old churches. Even if they are not believers why would you want something so beautiful rot.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  2. JoJo

    I've been an agnostic Humanist for years now. It wasn't atheists who turned me from religion; it was the modern day American Christian Right, especially their enthusiastic support for the unnecessary lie-based trillion dollar holocaust and torture of Americans and foreigners in Iraq.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  3. Courtney

    Why does everything have to be about race. I'm an american woman and and agnostic theist. I know there is an up and a down to most things in life, can't prove it, its just is or it isn't. Same with religion...this article really shows that those claiming to be atheist are creating their own organized religion. That is all that really equates to. I don't think it matters what color you are....or even if race is a factor.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • CJ

      No atheists want an organized religion. They want tolerant conversation.

      If you've been near the south or any black community, even in liberal cities, you'll understand this article.

      Everything is not about race. Race doesn't actually exist. But its application is relevant to this article.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      A true atheist has absolutely no desire to be part of an "atheist religion". Religion is basically an arguement, in which a premise(s) is assumed to be true and followed by a conclusion that becomes an accepted belief until sufficiently challenged. No matter how valid a point you or I make, a proverbial hole can be shot in it by someone wiser. Otherwise, there would be no debate. It's the debate that undermines what we "think" is true. Do you "believe" that water is 2 parts H and 1 part O? You don't have to "believe" in the molecular composition of water, because H2O is a fact. The debate ends with H2O.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  4. 1

    The beauty of all regions is that they bring peace to the believers. Don’t forget that in every religion or non religion, there are people who are uneducated in the religion that they say they follow, which can damage what a religion truly believes. Mature Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Scientologists, Atheists, etc. have respect for every religion and the one thing that they all can agree on is this: “My religion or non religion choice is my decision, my journey, and yes I can come together with other believers to practice my road I choose to follow, but in the end, I am the one and no one else who determines how I will walk my religion and how disciplined I truly will be to learning and trying to understand everything involved with my faith. Because no matter what anyone says for or against my religion, I alone gain peace in what I believe.”

    December 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • CJ

      'The beauty of all regions (you mean religions?) is that they bring peace to the believers' – sure, but they bring conflict to OTHER believers, and non believers.

      Bit of a problem, don't you think?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Canadain

      "The beauty of all regions is that they bring peace to the believers." ?

      Assuming you mean religions not regions, One would point out that the conflict arising from the clashing of 2 or more different religions (or even the difference of interpretation within one single congregation) creates far more damage and negative outcomes, cancelling any benefit this inner peace may bring.

      With an objective mind and the capacity to change ones view in the face of evidence, and thus learning and growing as humans, would arguably be the best path to true inner peace.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  5. waterman

    Having more atheists is good news for any community. For blacks it is even better and more impressive given the general religious cultural background they come from.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  6. ShenShen

    Do people really ask what church you go to in introductory conversations? Jeez. Is it so hard to keep your nose out of other people's religious beliefs or lack thereof?

    December 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • ....

      "Barnaby Jones"

      Seriously even though you keep posting under other handles grow up. Emotional maturity is defined as: the ability to express one’s own feelings and convictions balanced with consideration for the thoughts and feelings of others.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • ShenShen

      ..., don't feed the troll. He's been reported already.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      They really do. Even here in wacky, liberal California about a quarter of the people I talk to have to tell you they're Christian within 5 minutes of meeting you.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  7. FN

    I am a believer in Christ. I think it is unfortunate that alot of people twist what they think is in the bible for their own agenda. That turns people away from Christ which is exactly what he does not want. Who are we to judge, GOD loves EVERYONE and we are ALL sinners !!!!!

    December 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • CJ

      Everything you just wrote is an insult to a diverse, tolerant, openminded rational society of people. You are no different to extremists, though you might not be aware of it.

      Benjamin Burchall is a hero.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • B Nakka

      Charles Darwin already existed. Benjamin Burchall is trying to create groups for his own fame. The dude already left one group to form another. It isn't like he created my space to move on to facebook.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • alshabbah

      Thank you. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. Fool says in his heart there is no God. Let them say and I believe one day people will realize that they cannot live without God. Days are numbered for the west, they have to repent and accept their foolishness if not God's wrath is waiting for them.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • CJ

      alshabbah. poo, bums, trees, eggs, popsicle.

      Both sentences make the same amount of sense, yours and mine.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Madtown

      people twist what they think is in the bible for their own agenda
      ------
      What about the fact that human beings wrote and edited the bible? You don't think they had an agenda when the selected the individual works that comprise the bible?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  8. TheFatherofLies

    ....People thinking for themselves rather than blindly accepting the words of a minister? What's this world coming to?

    December 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Deany Jim

      Except that most people take their derive their character from those around them. Very few people are truly intelligent enough to make any kind of personal decision; in many cases atheists are just disgruntled children of religious families enacting "teen rebellion". That's not a thought, that's an impulse.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • CJ

      The father of lies you are...not to mention inanity and generalized ignorance.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • CJ

      Whoops. sorry that was for the second ridiculous comment...

      December 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • lolwut

      It might be for some, but for most of us who used to be religious, our transition to atheism was over a rather long period of time and it involved a great deal of research and thought. Do most religious people arrive at their conclusion through thought and reason? Of course not, they're indoctrinated at an early age by their parents and are then socialized by their religious peers into thinking it's the normal thing to believe.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • CJ

      lolwut called it. Absolutely right...the truth is out. We think, ask, read, consider, then leave the religion happily.

      We have religious friends/families, who do none of the above.

      end of conversation.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  9. FN

    I am a believer in Christ. I think it is unfortunate that alot of people twist what they think is in the bible for their own agenda. That turns people away from Christ which is exactly what he does not want. Who are we to judge, GOD loves EVERYONE and we are ALL sinners!!

    December 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  10. Jim

    This person is a total idiot. In a city of 5 million people, does he really think that nothing is on TV on Sunday night except religion? This is absolutely studid.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • TheFatherofLies

      Yep. So, so studid.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Vulpes

      "absolutely studid" - indeed.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  11. Bill

    Which makes more sense–believing in a big bang--life somehow popping into existence-man evolving from a 1 cell ameba

    or a devine creator

    December 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • BRC

      I'd have to say the one that has some supporting evidence and actually has testable/researchable theories to support how it has happened over the last 13.7 billion years.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • anon

      The one with actual scientific evidence to back it up and not involving a bearded man who lives in the sky

      December 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • TMH041

      Big Bamg without a doubt. It is hard to believe intelligent people fall for the hookus-pookus of God, a virgin Mother giving birth, heaven an hell. Religion was organized and developed to control the population and has grown to become a politically correct cult.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • lolwut

      UHHH the one my parents told me is true!!! Durrr

      December 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • dave

      the first option

      December 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • ms

      If you can prove the existance of god then you can win a million dollars google James Randi $1million challenge. In these hard ecconomic times i think some of you christians could use the money since you believe in something you cant prove.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  12. moonster

    Are we suppose to feel sad for these people? They made a choice now just go on and live your life.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • ShenShen

      The point is that "living your life" is way more annoying for atheists in that area than it is for the religious majority because the latter apparently can't keep their Jesus to themselves and bring it up all the time. Kind like when people incessantly ask the childfree when they're going to reproduce.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • moonster

      ShenShen – my faith is my own. I don't try to recruit anyone etc. Plus I am childless as well. Atheists need to grow a thick skin. My father is an atheist and none of the religious stuff of this world bother him whatsoever. I don't feel sorry for their story one bit.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  13. DefyTheGods

    As an atheist, I would slap the left cheek of someone, who slaps my right cheek, while another atheist might turn the other cheek. Many God-fearing people(not all, but enough) would react no differently. What's they're excuse? If I commit an act that some considers to be "good", it's because it pleases me to help my fellow man. I don't care about the promise of reward in the afterlife. I'm just a regular guy.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Kevin Harris

      You've perfectly shown the atheist's moral dilemma! Whatever "pleases me" is "good". Some people are pleased to abuse or even murder their fellow man. Does that make it right? It is quite appropriate that you put "good" in quotes!

      There are moral facts and we all know it. This is not a 100% proof of God, but is very strong evidence for him!

      December 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • BRC

      @Kevin Harris,
      That's not the atheist's moral dilemma, that's everyone's moral dilemma. There always things we know we shouldn't do (east junk food, hook up with someone we shouldn't), that would feel good. It is up to the will power of each individual to determine what they are and are not willing to do, balancing their enjoyment with their moral sense. Doesn't matter where that moral sense came from. And noone who isn't mentaly imbalanced enjoys killig people (whether they are an atheist or a psycopath who murders because "God told me to").

      Also it is in no way evidence of any god.
      1) What god, why is any specific moral feeling in a social species a piece of evidence for what particular god?
      2) If you are implying morality comes from gods it poses the question- Are the actions moral because the god says so (in that case why is the god the authority), or does the god set forth the behaviors because the god would only direct moral actions (in which case morals exist outside of gods, and they are unnecessary).

      December 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Kevin Harris

      @BRC I appreciate your thoughtfulness on this. First, don't confuse moral ontology with moral epistemology. As you said, we all have a "moral sense". It's difficult to deny that moral values and duties are objective (even though they may be subjectively applied). Atheists can and do recognize and act on moral values. But that is not the issue. What grounds or justifies objective moral values and duties? God is the best explanation for why there are moral "oughts". If they are just an evolutionary survival mechanism or social contract then nothing is really "right" or "wrong". Again, that flies in the face of our moral intuitions.

      Secondly, this does not prove any specific God but Theism in general. It certainly is in line with Christian Theism being that Christ is the great moral paradigm of all time!

      Thirdly, Euthyphro's Dilemma is not a dilemma. There is a third option. God, being ontologically ultimate, is "the good" (in his very nature), and is in keeping with his own nature and self-consistency. This is expressed to us via commands, imperatives, etc. Thus, God neither has to determine what is "the good", nor is he held to some standard outside of his own nature.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • BRC

      @Kevin Harris,
      I don't consider it difficult at all, morals are subjective. Completely subjective. The concept of right and wrong is something that is developed purely through human invention. Nature does not recognize right and wrong; it recognizable capable or incapable, possible or impossible, morality plays no part of it. if nature has no recognition of right and wrong, why should we believe that a "God" who created it does? Logic exists (not as most people understand it), but the mathematical expressions of logic that humans have cataloged and observed, and described, and claimed as our own exist in nature. They are observable in animate and inanimate behavior. The same cannot be said for morality.

      And there is no need for any deity to explain our moral intuitions. As stated, nature has no moral sense and humans are at a base level rather weak creatures (we have no claws or pointy teeth, we're not overly fast, we're not armored or naturally protected, and none of our senses are the most acute in any of the animal kingdoms that I am aware of). Nature would have hewed us up and spit out the failing remains of our species had we not developed the irrepressible internal imperative to do what benefited the community instead of just ourselves. This would quite easily account for our moral sense, as most any action that is immoral, that gives us a pang of doubt about whether we should really do it, are actions that harm a person or the people around us, an action that thousands of years ago could have gotten everyone killed and ended the party real soon. That makes more sense to me, and can be supported with observation, than saying, it was instilled by a being we can't prove exists.

      Still we consider ourselves above that. We believe that we humans are smarter than the other animals, and capable of morality above and beyond mere survival. So we invent moral codes, and we invent a sense of right and wrong as altruisms, and over many many many generations we have convinced ourselves that these things exist outside of just us humans, but there is nothing to show that they do (and given the enormous amount of damage we've done to the world around us and each other, there's nothing in human history to prove that we were right).

      As for your "third option", quite frankly it sounds like circular logic to me. You still haven't shown WHY "He" is the ultimate good. The sticking point is going to be that I don't trust or believe the Bible, so unless you can give me some evidence or a logical reasoning, outside of that; I'm afraid we're going to have to agree to disagree.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  14. liz

    Try being a Catholic in Alabama when they try to get you to be born again into a "real" Christian.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  15. Alex

    Ok, wow, so the guy over-exaggerated his claim about Atlanta TV programming, let's spend all our time talking about it!

    December 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  16. Believe It

    Atheism is a term that shoudln't even exist. We don't have terms for non-astrologers, or non-alchemists. There is no word for people who still believe Elvis is still alive. Atheism is the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Deany Jim

      Like a lack of belief is truly and more justified. I don't believe there's dark matter. Others do. Nobody in this case or the other is justified any more than the other person.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Deany Jim

      Damn, *any

      December 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Vulpes

      Secular = non-religious

      December 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • lolwut

      Lack of belief is certainly justified when you don't see any reason to believe, like most of us atheists. Why don't you believe in Krishna? or Thor? or Osiris? See what a silly statement that is?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Andrew

      Because there is no realistic, historic evidence in Krishna, or Thor, or Osiris. There are historians at that time who recorded the existence of a "Jesus of Nazareth" that was crucified on a cross.

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

      Andrew please, there is no solid proof that Jesus even existed, let alone that he was the son of a magical sky daddy who looks like a semi-evolved primate.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  17. Uncle Baire

    The "Bible Belt" is too tight...even for the spiritual anorexic. It's an odd thing about the South and Religion. Black folk prayed for the deliverance of the evils of slavery and social isolation. White folks prayed that the lifestyle of white superiority would remain in tact. Both groups are praying that "God" take sides when were given what was needed when we came unto this plain. Religion is elitist and evil.

    When we die and get sucked back up into the "mother-ship", all of this will be made clear and this astute insanity we all wrestle with called "religion" will be the biggest joke....EVER!!!!

    December 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  18. B Nakka

    I read the article but fail to understand the point of it. So this guy and some more people moved to Atlanta and they are bombarded by religion. Wait no, they thought they were. Like the old saying "if you look for it long enough, you will find it".

    Get the F*** out of here. Trying to make a point when there is no point. There are plenty of non-americans that move to the states and find there is no television programming that was back home. Get on with it. You are in the bible belt, TV sells what is sought after. They are not trying to convert you, they are not trying to pander to you who is a minority there (atheist in the bible belt).

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

      @B Nakka "They are not trying to convert you"

      hahahahahahahahaha

      December 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • B Nakka

      The TV stations and Walmart clerk is trying to convert these people. They have a choice last time I remember it is 2011 not 1900. Your sarcasm is a century old.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  19. Bob

    If you read the Bible you will read about the description of heaven in which the sun always shines. What? No beautiful sun rises and sun sets? No phases of the moon? Thus, no ocean waves and no surfing. How boring can you get! Clearly no one would want to live there, especially forever. Sounds more like hell to me.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Andrew

      You do know that not all parts of the Bible are to be taken literally, right?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  20. Kevin Harris

    As a Christian in the south my main concern for black churches is the anti-intellectual, emotions-based emphasis in virtually all congregations. I see an absence of teaching the historical, philosophical, and evidential grounds for faith in Christ. Emotions are great but they only go so far! Any church that rejects the mind will foster atheism among it's members.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • James Sanders

      Mind and Emotion are always fostered by the spirtual fruits of the word and the pastor

      December 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • lolwut

      Yeah, I remember when my pastor taught us about the big bang theory and evolution. Wait, I meant the same tired out stories from an antiquated collection of texts. Sorry, spaced out for a second there, just like in church!

      December 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Tiger2

      You are absolutely right. Standing up shouting and dancing in front of the congregation each Sunday gets old fast. We need preachers who are also teachers and scholars, not just cheer leaders or screamers. It is so hard to find teaching churches/congregations these days. I often supplement my church experience with televangelist, who I believe teach rather than simply preach.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      How can anyone be part of a "black" or "white" church? I thought Christ had one body. Also, why would any church teach "...the historical, philosophical, and evidential grounds for faith in Christ." If there's evidence, then faith isn't required. One simply would know of the evidence, which presents fact! Emotion is what it's all about: "Love one another as I have loved you." Be careful of what you seek, christian! I sought those same things as a teenager, and found myself asking "too many questions". I began to think so freely, that I abandoned "God" all together. I'm an atheist, and nothing will ever change that. I continue to read holy books of ALL religions, however. After all, if I'm going to criticize religion, I should know the basis of what I'm criticizing.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Kevin Harris

      @lolwut Thanks for making my point! Your church should have taught you to that the Big Bang supports a huge argument for Theism and jives with the "beginning" taught in Scripture. You should have been taught that the word for "day" (yom) in Genesis can be interpreted as long periods of time. You should have been taught that life is amazing and has adaptive features but that much of Darwinian Evolution has been called into serious question. You should have been taught the historical accuracy and preservation of those texts. It's never too late my friend!

      December 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Kevin Harris

      @Defy The Gods That is a common misunderstanding of the nature of faith. Biblical faith is "reasonable faith" (pisits). A follower of Christ does not have to exercise "blind faith".
      Few things can be proven 100%, but that is not necessary to hold something as true. Faith is the trust or assent that a given proposition is true. Faith is not a way of knowing something, it's what one does with what one believes is true, rational, etc.

      I'm a follower of Christ not only because of my experience of him, but because I have rational support, reasons, and warrant for believing his claims are true!

      December 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      Hmmm....I cannot deny your personal experience of Jesus The Christ, but there is nothing rational about faith, my friend. To paraphrase the Bible, Jesus walked on water and commanded his apostle Peter to come out to him. He didn't tell Peter to be rational. What's rational about a man walking on water? The first few seconds of blind faith kept Peter above water. As soon as Peter excersized reason, he began to sink. Well, you know the rest of the story. Hold this to be true if you will, but to claim any rationality make this pill even harder to swallow. Perhaps I've missed something. I can't deny anyone's faith. It's the source of your faith that I question. I can imagine anything, and convince myself that it's real or let someone else convince me that something is real. Just sayin'. LOL

      December 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Kevin Harris

      @Defy the God But notice that Peter did not exericise blind faith! He saw Christ in front of him! But he still had to exercise a measure of faith didn't he! Once we determine that something is trustworthy, we are rational and reasonable to place our faith in it. We do this every single day!

      As you rightly point out, faith is only as good as the object (source) in which it is placed. All the faith in the world won't make something true if it's not. If the Source of our faith is brought into question, we can scrutinize it. That is exactly what I've done as to my trust in Christ. I have the experience of him on a personal level, but have also examined the grounds for why I believe what I believe and found them solid and supportive. I invite you to do the same thing. I'll even hang with you on the journey (kevinharrisproductions@gmail.com)

      December 9, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
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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.