As I am sure many Atheists know, becoming a free-thinker is a challenging yet rewarding enterprise. Far from being frightening or even devoid of wonder as many theists would have one believe, skepticism is a liberating perspective, creating intriguing new mysteries that have yet to be explored.
Such knowledge stirs a true fire in the belly and a quest for knowledge that I had only before glimpsed through a very narrow peep-hole. For this newbie, the world was no longer myopic, but rather, wide open. Man, I couldn’t find enough YouTube videos, shows, books, or podcasts on the subject.
That is how I stumbled across Seth Andrews, THE THINKING ATHEIST. Admittedly, he is a direct juxtaposition to T. J. kirk, who has a more, shall we say, brusque style, but that is what drew me in. Seth was calming, jovial and warm. I also liked the fact that he was able to calm knee jerkers like me down. Seriously, after years of navigating a repressive religious society that NOW wants to play victim cause they can’t bully folks around, it is difficult for me to keep in mind that MOST christians are fallible, well-meaning human beings. That said, there is that little caveat about where the road to good intentions lead.
Over the past few weeks, I throughly soaked in Seth’s podcasts, listening as I created animations or worked out during the day. Welp, one day to my happy surprise, I received an email notification that a live show was about to air. I told myself that I would try my best to call in and speak to the man I had come to greatly admire.
I did manage to get on and despite being a bit nervous, think I did pretty okay. The show was entitled THE BROKEN RECORD and can be found below (think I was third or fourth caller in).
I talked to Seth about a number of things, one of them being that deplorable youtube trailer for THE THAW, which hides behind young kids to put out the false message of religious persecution. In the video, fresh-faced teenagers ask misleading questions like, “Why can’t I pray in schools.” or “Why must I check god in at the door”? As one would expect, the comments are disabled on the video, which doesn’t invite rebuttals like “Uhm, you can pray in schools, privately, you just can’t force other people to pray with you. Religion is supposed to be about choice, remember–duh!”
I also remarked on Seth’s wonderful video about a recent trip to the Creationist Museum (in an amusing aside, I learned a few days ago that said museum is going under!) Say what? A scientific museum devoid of science is failing? Who would have thunk it? All I can say is that nugget has renewed my faith in man.
Towards the end of the convo, I mentioned that I was a black skeptic in GA and what that meant. I told him that I lived near the city of Dr. Martin Luther King and that folks often react as if I am spitting on that legacy when I declare my absence of faith.
After I hung up the phone, I couldn’t help musing on that latter fact.
I think even as a Christian, I’d always been a bit a of a skeptic. I didn’t readily believe paranormal claims although I found such stories entertaining. I certainly was never inclined to buy every bridge some dude was willing to sell either. Still, for some odd reason, I’d given myself over to the temptation of biblical indoctrination–willingly.
Perhaps it was just a part of southern culture, and when I found myself floundering, I reached out towards religion. In Georgia especially, you can almost assume that an African-American is devoutly religious, and in most cases, you’d be right. The community wears their religiosity like some kind of badge of honor, and by gum, grand ma’am would slap the taste out of your mouth for even questioning the validity of Christ’s teachings. A round of hallelujahs would be the result from family members privy to the assault.
As I look with an ever increasingly critical eye towards this phenomenon, I can’t help but wonder how black American allowed itself to be thus shackled again. The bible was a tool to keep men in their place, and in particular, American slaves. “Boy, don’ you go gettin’ no uppity ideas, it says right here in dis bibul that yous no bettah than monkeys. You t’was meant to be slaves!”
Sure, current apologists are falling all over themselves in an effort to white wash this inconvenient truth, but the fact remains that the bible endorses owning folks as property and even gave instruction on slave/master relationships and maintenance.
To put it bluntly, today when I think of the black church, I see slaves sitting at the feet of the massahs asking to be fleeced and flagellated in an effort to not rock the boat. All in the exalted name of the Lawd.
It saddens me. It sickens me. And I used to be part and parcel.
As for Dr. King, I have learned that while yes, he was a man of god, he was also very supportive of the separation of Church and State doctrine.
“King supported the Supreme Court’s decisions striking down government-sponsored prayer in public schools. In a January 1965 interview with Playboy magazine, King was asked about one of those rulings. He not only backed what the court did, he noted that his frequent nemesis, Gov. George Wallace of Alabama, stood on the other side.
“I endorse it. I think it was correct,” King said. “Contrary to what many have said, it sought to outlaw neither prayer nor belief in God. In a pluralistic society such as ours, who is to determine what prayer shall be spoken, and by whom? Legally, constitutionally or otherwise, the state certainly has no such right. I am strongly opposed to the efforts that have been made to nullify the decision. They have been motivated, I think, by little more than the wish to embarrass the Supreme Court. When I saw Brother Wallace going up to Washington to testify against the decision at the congressional hearings, it only strengthened my conviction that the decision was right.”
Were he alive today, it’s unlikely King would endorse the Religious Right’s current crusades for teaching creationism and “intelligent design” in public schools. King saw no need for religion and science to fight. “Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism,” he once wrote.” Source: Speaking Truth To Power: Martin Luther King on Church and State
My hope is that black America will wake up, wise up and truly recognize that King’s legacy wasn’t one of blind obedience to dogma, it was curiously, about freedom from such. I have a dream indeed.
MORE ABOUT DR MARTIN KING VIEWS ON CHURCH AND STATE HERE: