No God Flow: Is The Black Church Driving More African Americans To Atheism?
8 months ago
Religion on the decline globally
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not necessarily reflect those of Loop 21.
So, you've finally decided to get your life together.
You wake up on Sunday morning and decide to attend that church your mother has been begging you to visit since you struck out on your own.
You went of your way not to get drunk on Saturday night so you wouldn't stumble into church with a hangover and your football game is programmed on your DVR.
For years you've heard that the choir is great, the preacher is awesome and the
women are fine congregation is welcoming.
You meant to get there early to beat the long lines in the parking lot and find a decent seat. You get there 20 minutes late, but you get the parking space and that seat in the pew.
[Also Read: Study: More Americans Claim No Religious Affiliation]
How? Probably because there is not as much competition in the pews anymore.
The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism, a study released in August of this year, found that the number of Americans who say they are religious dropped from 73 percent in 2005 to 60 percent in 2012. A 2011 poll conducted by The Barna Group revealed similar findings. Barna Group looked at church attendance from 1991 to 2011 and found that it dropped from 48 percent to 39 percent. A GIRA poll found that Americans who identify as atheist rose from 1 percent to 5 percent.
That sounds like a lot of extra seats. Something that was unheard of from 2004 to 2006, considered the "peak" of mega-church popularity.
Black folks have cherry-picked what days they want to attend church since...forever. That isn't new. But what is new is the growing number of black people who are leaving the church, and their faith. This despite the Barna Group's finding that despite the drop in church attendance, black people remain the most stable when it comes to sticking with their religion.
[Also Read: Would An Agnostic Make the Best President?]
While there is no readily available head count on the number of black atheists in America, a Facebook group called Black Atheists of America offers at least a small peek into how many there may be among us. If "likes" are valued as social media currency, there are 5,432 members (and counting) in the group. And that number dwarfs the "likes" the United Black Christians of United Church of Christ has right now.
"That group has grown a lot in the last year," said Ronnell Adams, a children's book author who describes himself as an "atheist activist." "The word is getting out about us."