It’s not like you need the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation to tell you this, but black people are very religious. Black women, especially:
The survey found that 74 percent of black women and 70 percent of black men said that “living a religious life” is very important. On that same question, the number falls to 57 percent of white women and 43 percent of white men.
But in times of turmoil, about 87 percent of black women — much more than any other group — say they turn to their faith to get through. Black women, across education and income levels, say living a religious life is a greater priority than being married or having children, and this call to faith either surpasses or pulls even with having a career as a life goal, the survey shows.
This only confirms what we already know — we have to work especially hard to help African-American atheists come out. Church is intertwined with their culture and wanted to leave the former is often mistaken as wanting to leave the latter.
But why are black women more religious than black men? We don’t get a clear answer to that.
Here’s what I love about this analysis, though. Both Anthony Pinn and Sikivu Hutchinson are given the chance to explain why they’re in the religious minority and why it’s important for black people to leave the church:
But even in the church, black women often find themselves in male-dominated institutions that are not always open to sharing power, said Anthony B. Pinn, a professor of humanities and religious studies at Rice University.
“Black women provide most of the labor and a significant amount of the financial resources but don’t hold an equivalent degree of authority in these organizations,” he said.
“What has religiosity and belief in supernatural beings really achieved for African Americans in the 21st century — and in particular African American women, given our low socioeconomic position?” [Hutchinson] asked.
Looking back on her childhood, Hutchinson wonders: “Why would children be compelled to profess belief, especially when they look around them and see that the world is overpopulated with adult believers flaunting their immorality?”
Hutchinson contends that perhaps there aren’t more black women grappling with that answer because there is little in their communities that supports a different perspective.
That may be true, but we are starting to see attempts to let other black atheists know they’re not alone. African Americans for Humanism has a list of local groups as well as a Speakers Bureau full of black writers, organizers, and academics, all of whom are outspoken atheists helping pave a path for others to follow. (r/BlackAtheism is also worth following.)
This survey isn’t news, but it should still be a wake-up call to atheist group leaders that we have a responsibility to make sure we do whatever we can to draw in more racial minorities to our gatherings and into our communities.
(via Get Religion)