Black Church. The Black Church comes in several different denominations and almost seems to be a given, if you're part of the Diaspora and specifically if you're Black-American. While it may not always come up during casual conversations, it's always assumed that if you're Black, you belong to a church, or that you're in-between different congregations while you weigh your options trying to find the perfect one to suit your needs and sensibilities. As a young(er) adult, I always loathed the question; "So, what church do you belong to?" because I didn't and don't.
I would always dance around the question or evoke some cleverly evasive answer to placate the query, because potential friendships, opportunities, or social settings always seemed contingent upon whether you attended a church or if you were willing (without question) to attend a prospective friend's church. I've never alluded to or written about my religious affiliations or lack thereof, because quite frankly, I never felt comfortable having these sorts of conversations.
Whenever the topic of religion would casually make its way into my interactions, I'd often go out of my way to pacify people's egos (at the expense of my own ego and comfort) and would feign interest with the proverbial "I don't go to church, but I'm a spiritual person" political answer, when in fact I'm not. I've never been religious (even as a young girl) or had any inclination towards the rituals of worship. I'm finally comfortable enough to publicly state this fact about myself.
As this current cult of personality continues to move forward, so are attitudes within the Black community about religion. Despite the backlash and collective gasps from family members, friends, and even work colleagues; the trepidation many of us feel about not being... well... holier-than-thou is starting to ebb as more of us are finally saying the controversial 'A' word out loud; and yes, I identify as an atheist and have been one for years (officially since high school, in fact), even when I never actually said it out loud, due to the concerns I had from the backlash I'd undoubtedly experience.
The disdain most of us receive from some folks is palpable at times. I've heard horror stories from folks, who divulged that some of their family members were more forgiving of the criminal infractions committed by incarcerated family members or that one creepy pedo-uncle, than they were of their college educated, gainfully employed, skirmish-free son or daughter/niece or nephew/granddaughter or grandson who came out as an atheist.
Fortunately for me and many others like me, what you think no longer matters.
I've gotten beyond the point in my life, where I'm willing to compromise who I am as an adult woman, because someone else is incapable of accepting that people are different, have the right to live in the splendor of their true selves, and have a difference of opinion. I am an atheist and have no desire to condescend to anyone else for being devout in their religious belief; nor do I wish to explain why I don't believe. Moreover, I have zero interest in listening to someone list all the reasons why they're Christian or whatever other affiliation they adhere to. Atheism (to me) is simply suspension of belief. I don't care one way or the other whether or not some God or some other similar entity exists because, well, none of it exists in my world. There. My dirty little secret is out. So the likelihood of me ever attending your church or praying with (or for) you, isn't very likely; despite the recent study about Black women being among the country's most religious groups. My suspension of religious belief has absolutely no bearing on my social mores or cultural universals. I'm not dancing around a fire, naked and conjuring up spells, contrary to what some folks think of non-believers.
In a recent installment of the documentary web series, "Black Folk Don't...", where the filmmakers set out to explore stereotypes about what many of Black people collectively don't do as a community-- (because you know, we're a monolith and all)-- they conduct interviews about Black spirituality, because most "Black Folk Don't: Do Atheism".