Black Nonbelievers of Dallas, Texas' First Black Atheist Organization, Launches Sunday

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Alix Jules
Just about a year ago, Dallas's atheist community announced a new billboard in South Dallas, celebrating "black atheists and freethinkers." This year, just in time for the tail end of black history month, the Fellowship of Freethought, Dallas' largest atheist group, is announcing a spinoff organization for its black members. Called Black Nonbelievers of Dallas, it's launching Sunday and will be the first dedicated black atheist organization in Texas. The group is modeled on and supported by Black Nonbelievers Inc., an Atlanta-based group.

All of which reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend just after our cover story on Dallas' atheists came out a few months ago. She was interested in sending her kid to Camp Quest, the freethinking summer camp the atheists around here help run each year. Her kid is black, though, and she wasn't interested in sending him to a program where he'd feel isolated or uncomfortable.

"How many black atheists are there around here, anyway?" she asked.

It's a good question, and not one that's easily answered. The statewide atheist convention in Austin I mentioned in the cover story didn't include a whole lot of black or brown faces. Although there were a few, they rarely showed up among the speakers onstage. At the moment, two days before its launch, the only certain member of Black Nonbelievers is its founding president, Alix Jules, the executive director of the Fellowship of Freethought. He was also the face of the billboard in South Dallas last year, alongside an image of the poet Langston Hughes and the tagline, "Doubts about religion? You're one of many."

At the time, Jules acknowledged, with a laugh, that he was known as being "the black atheist." But he argued that many black nonbelievers don't feel as comfortable coming out of the godless closet, because of the social cost.

"You have black people who say you can't be black and an atheist," he told us at the time. "If you're a black woman, you're always told the only place you're going to find a good man is in church. Church is so much more in the black community than it is elsewhere. It's the support system, the mill, part of the ecosystem."

Zach Moore, the director-at-large for Fellowship of Freethought, and the person who does most of their media, writes that Jules used to argue against ethnicity-based atheist groups. "But he's done the freethought thing and changed his mind because of evidence and reason," he adds.

"Black atheists don't necessarily have the same points of view, nor share common daily experiences with the larger New Atheist movement," Jules writes in a press release announcing Black Nonbelievers. "For example, I still get followed in stores because of my race, and I still get stopped by police when driving my car in the wrong neighborhood. And even among the New Atheists, there is significant influence from cultural privilege that we would be wrong to ignore."

The group kicks off Sunday, which also happens to be the National Day of Solidarity for Black Nonbelievers. The group will host a symposium at the Resource Center in Oak Lawn, followed by a social event in Oak Cliff. We've included the full text of the press release below. For a group that hasn't officially launched yet, the Black Nonbelievers already have a rather impressive Internet presence. Find them on FOF's page, Meetup, and, inevitably, Facebook. An FOF interview with Jules is also available here.

Black Nonbelievers of Dallas press release by

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42 comments
Ricardo Acosta
Ricardo Acosta

lol... Whats the difference with just an atheist? white, black, Latino, an atheist is an atheist right? why the racial separation?

jonboys55
jonboys55

'Getting followed in a Department Store' is a stereotype that cherish and really milk. A black Federal Judge in VA/DC area speech before an all-black audience told his obligate 'lynching story' to build rapport with his attendees.

Later he apologized for lying about the incident since a black attendee discovered his time & place for the supposed threat were rwfuted by conflicting geography.

Ricardo Paniagua
Ricardo Paniagua

its not about pride, its about separating ourselves because of our differences. NO. DUH

Chad Aldridge
Chad Aldridge

Where are you getting the word pride from Jon? I don't see it written anywhere in this article or newsletter. While I do agree with you to some extent, this group is specifically for making it easier for African-Americans to come outta the closet as non-believers. I am part of the FoF and can tell you firsthand, there are very few that show up to our meetings and we wanna change that. I can assure you, this isn't about pride at all, it's about helping our local non-believing community grow.

Jon Jackson
Jon Jackson

Black? Because if you say proud you're wrong. Taking pride for being black, something you can't control is meaningless. I'm gay for example, gay pride is stupid. So is white pride etc. I take pride in things I can control. I take pride in being a good friend. I take pride in being a good neighbor, a good son, a good partner etc.

Americano
Americano

If women can sue to gain entry into men's groups, and the LBGT groups can pressure the Boy Scouts to allow gay men to join that group, can I, a white Christian sue to join this group?  Or would that make me a racist?

butterflychristie
butterflychristie

Those are some good points on why there should be a black atheist community, but I hope this doesn't become something that further separates the general atheist community, and it becomes the reason why you can't find that many blacks at an atheist gathering, because they have already all spent their time at the black atheist gathering. lol In every atheist convention I've been to the people there are very progressive, and they like having a diverse community, so Im sure the people there will welcome black people with open arms. This is 2013 and we have moved passed racism, even though there are still some racist people around. I think they are most likely not going to be at an atheist gathering.

ruddski
ruddski

What's next, Black Republicans?

iwearblack
iwearblack

So, I'm wondering how quickly the protest signs and lawsuits would spring up if someone decided to open the White Nonbelievers of Dallas?

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

"Her kid is black, though, and she wasn't interested in sending him to a program where he'd feel isolated or uncomfortable.

"How many black atheists are there around here, anyway?" she asked."


"She was interested in sending her kid to Camp Quest, the freethinking summer camp"


Irony is apparently lost on your 'friend'



wcvemail
wcvemail

This race-based org is a telling parallel to religious services themselves, which have been called "the most segregated hour in America." For instance, beyond reflexive cliches and the occasional brief, high-profile campaign, what is the minority count at First Baptist?

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

I don't really need an organization to not believe in something.  I can do that in my pajamas while I watch TV.

msceede24
msceede24

mmmm? i don't think this group says that u could not join.  however, if you want to tread there you should. bear in mind tho that you ar "xtian" and this is a no xtian organization.  now this does not mean that u should do what "whites" have done througout their existence here on this continent and think u can go in and change.  you should join if you feel u want to be a "nonbeliever."  furthermore, isn't it kind of absurd for you to want to join something not of your belief?  what's the purpose?   To exercise a sense of what u believe is "white right" or "supremacy."  alas, u have all kinds of groups you can join:  KKK, white citizens council, house of representatives, vatican, mafia.  i believe that these groups have always been yours.  correct me if i'm wrong an let's not forget all the xtian upper echelons.

garthblair
garthblair

@Americano I'm pretty sure if you came to a meeting you would be welcomed and nobody would care. Oh you prefer making pointless hyperbolic arguments? My bad, carry on. 

moorezw
moorezw

@Americano Come on over! The event is inclusive (unlike the Boy Scouts).

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Americano 

I think that you should try, these people are blatantly trampling upon your civil rights!


It's kinda' like when some goofy dude gets all bent out of shape and hires a lawyer because a health-club that caters to shlubby middle aged women doesn't want to allow him to join.


I love that shit.

moorezw
moorezw

@iwearblack We don't need a group like that. The existing atheist community is overwhelmingly white already.

James080
James080 topcommenter

@iwearblack  

Are you referring to the First Baptists Church of Dallas?

However, I am considering forming a private club for people who don't believe in joining private clubs.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@wcvemail The segregation isn't just along racial lines, economic segregation is just as much a reality on Sunday.  Free speech in this country bears many consequences.  You might well have more freedom of speech in more Authoritarian countries.  Here, the authoritarians are the people. 

moorezw
moorezw

@everlastingphelps Very true. Atheism is a good fit for lazy people. But for those of us who want to make the most of this one life that we have, and especially to make the world better for our children, it kinda helps to organize.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@everlastingphelps One doesn't *need* AA to get and stay sober, but it sure as hell helps.

garthblair
garthblair

@everlastingphelps Groups of this nature provide social support for people that would otherwise feel isolated. At times when someone comes out as an atheist, ESPECIALLY within the black community, it can often lead to more or less exile and a loss of your entire support system. Its not about needing "an organization to not believe in something". Its about having like minded people from whom you can draw support and have a sense belonging. I'm willing to wager there are a plethora of black atheists going along with the flow as to not rock the boat and thinking they are the only one. Now this group will let them know, you aren't the only one, and there are others here for you interact with. 

Ricky_Hollywood
Ricky_Hollywood

@Anna_Merlan @cantkeepthetruthdown Situational irony is difficult to define and there's a lot of room for interpretation.  It's subjective and depends on the reader and the situation.  Therefore, I disagree with you.  Given the statement that she was interested in sending her son to a freethinking summer camp, you would expect that she chose to do so.  The resulting outcome where she didn't send him because she thought he would be isolated is not expected hence, irony.  But sally forth, as you inevitably will.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

@moorezw One could say that spending a couple seconds praying to a supreme being for assistance is a rather lazy and parasitic approach to life too, you know.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@SuperfuzzBigmuff No AA says you're powerless to quit, Unless you adopt their program.  So, perhaps not at all powerless.  Please ignore self contradictory claims. 

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@SuperfuzzBigmuff As an atheist in Dallas (a honkey one, tho) I must ask, why the hell would you want to give up drinkin' in this hellhole?

charlesmonroe
charlesmonroe

This summed it up pretty well. Also, you don't have to be AA to join.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@charlesmonroe don't have to be AA to join?   Do these people believe in NOTHING?  IS nothing sacred?

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