Hello Everyone! Please check out this article that was featured on the Rationalist Association. BN President Mandisa Thomas discusses some challenges faced with being a nonbeliever in the Black community, as well as future plans for the organization. Be sure to check back often for updates on our events and projects!
Press Release – For Immediate Distribution
Event: Atlanta Coalition of Reason’s Summer Solstice Launch Weekend!!!
Dates: June 21-22, 2014
Times: 8:00 PM 7:00 PM
Locations: Doo Gallery Atlanta Freethought Hall
205 Holtzclaw St SE 4775 N. Church Lane
Atlanta, GA 30316 Atlanta, GA 30080
Description: In the city sometimes known as “Hotlanta”, get ready for the weekend that is sure to live up to the description! Taking a different approach from the standard method of introductions, the official launch of the Atlanta Coalition of Reason (ATL CoR) will be a Summer Solstice celebration, complete with a launch party on June 21st, followed by a concert on June 22nd. Speakers and performers will include Greydon Square, Jeremiah Camara, Sam Singleton and Steve Hill.
ATL CoR coordinator Mandisa Thomas says, “This is an initiative that is well overdue. Atlanta has one of the largest populations of nonbelievers, and there are so many strides to be made by the area groups working together. I am proud to be part of facilitating this important and festive occasion, as well as all future projects.”
“There are a number of fine organizations in the Atlanta area to serve the diverse needs and styles we have and to further the cause of those of us without religion” says veteran activist and ATL CoR advisor Ed Buckner. “But we have very much long needed better ways of pulling together for the sake of the things we have in common. With Mandisa at the helm, the Atlanta Coalition of Reason is destined to serve our movement, our local groups, and our members extraordinarily well. This is great to see and I’m eager to be a part of it.”
Tickets are $25 for party and concert ($15 for party and $20 for concert separately). You can purchase tickets in advance via this link: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/atl-cors-summer-solstice-launch-weekend-tickets-11326745601
If you are traveling from out of town, please contact the coordinator for assistance with finding reasonably priced accommodations.
Contact Info: Mark W. Gura – Media Representative –email@example.com
Mandisa Thomas – Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
On April 23, 2014, Candace Gorham, author of “The Ebony Exodus Project” appeared on News One Now with Roland Martin to discuss the systematic problem of the Black Church, and why Black women in particular should consider leaving altogether in order to improve their lives. While Gorham does not entirely blame the Church or the problems in the Black community, she does emphasize and outline it’s influence and how the institution as well as religion overall has a detrimental effect. Click on the link above to view the segment, and please leave feedback for News One.
Black Nonbelievers, Inc. is proud to host an encore presentation of the acclaimed film by Jeremiah Camara!
What has been the collective impact of church loyalty and deep faith?
In Contradiction, Jeremiah Camara, author of the book Holy Lockdown travels around the country examining the saturation of churches in the midst of dependency and powerlessness. Camara seeks to find if there is a connection between high praise and low productivity.
*Rolling Out is the official media sponsor for Contradiction (Rollingout.com)
****The following piece is an adaptation from one of my 16 year old daughter’s class assignments. I was unaware of her choice to write about this subject until she told me. She received a grade of 95, and of course, being so please with the outcome, I asked her permission to share. The content has been slightly edited, but her ideas and thoughts come through loud and clear. Please share this with others who may be feeling the same way, but may have trouble with open expression.**** ~ Mandisa
Its half past 10 and my mom and I are headed towards her meeting she has every 3rd weekend of the month, I gazed at the stagnant gray clouds and counted the number of black cars that passed. 24….25….suddenly, I see a license plate with peculiar text on it. “God loves me”.
I paused. Bewildered, I turned to my mother.
“Hey, did you see that?”
“See what?” she asked.
I point towards the blue colored sedan.
My mom sighed, and I could only think that this is just another person looking for attention.
That was the starting point of what it meant to be a nonbeliever -or at least that was when I noticed. I remember a time when I felt like a rainbow colored fish in a dull black ocean. When I was five, I attended a private school named Romar Academy. It had a wide variety of activities, such as karate, piano, and dance. It had a friendly vibe in an overachieving learning environment. However, one thing stood out the most. At lunchtime, we couldn’t eat until prayer was done – which I never understood. So I waited until they finished, then hungrily ate my food.
One thing I love most about my family is that we are skeptical. We love to question things that seem to interfere with the daily activities of others. We’ve also traveled many places – from the blue-green beaches of the Bahamas to the lively, spectacular city of New York. When we eat, we never pray over our food, nor is there any mention of any god at any given time (as a real being).
2011 was the start of my mom’s group “Black Nonbelievers”. Taking from her childhood experiences of growing up Black Nationalist, being exposed to religion in various aspects, and questioning life in general, she developed an atheist group of her own. I support her by going to some of the meetings, and I have learned new things about her and what it means to be considered atheist.
Recently, I saw a documentary called “Contradiction”. It is a movie about how religion affects African American culture. I taught me many new things. For example, during slavery, religion was used as a tactic to mentally restrain slaves. Like a box filled with colors, a dull world – religion – kept that box from being opened. But as I continued to watch, I realized that many other races have that same problem. After learning this, I was able to picture the transition that many cultures took when they were exposed to Christianity.
Transitioning to a new environment is never easy. You have to get used to new routines and people. When I transferred from public school from private, I noticed the students weren’t all Black or African American. And I felt happier as a result. Seeing people from different races and cultures made me feel completely comfortable with myself. Even now, I feel extremely apprehensive if I find myself surrounded by one race/culture in particular at any given time. Also, I find it hard to cope with not being able to get along with many of my fellow African Americans. It started as a joke, but I sat down one day and brain vomited all of my thoughts. Everywhere I looked, I saw some Blacks either committing themselves to a higher deity, or making a fool of themselves and being disrespectful in some way. I always wanted to know why these bad apples are shown in the media. But moreover, when I did make friends with other Blacks, something would eventually distance us – religious belief. When I told them I was atheist, they stopped talking to me. When I told them I was bisexual, they stopped talking to me. I find it much easier to talk with my peers from other races. In fact, more of them are atheist – just like me.
In a world filled with extravagant things and adventures, I never thought too hard about religion. I accept people for who they are as long as they accept me for who I am. My mom is my role model. She is able to overcome obstacles head on, and still keeps a smile on her face – even when someone tells her to “go to hell”. Being an atheist to me isn’t worshipping the devil, or even saying things like “God doesn’t exist”. It means that I‘m an adventurer who is a skeptic and feels free. As I travel and meet new people, I question and explore whatever I want. And I expect a straightforward answer, and will never stop looking for my own.
Good Morning Everyone!
On behalf of the BN Team, I would like to wish you all a happy day today. This has been another exciting year for us; for those of you who aren’t aware, we are more than an online entity. BN is a very active offline, and we encourage in person interaction as much as possible. Here in the Atlanta area, we host a variety of events – from our monthly General Meetings, to movie and bowling outings, as well as special lectures and presentations. We also table at the American Atheists National Convention, WRFG’s annual Block Party celebration, and this was our first year at the Atlanta Pride festivities. There are also established BN groups in Orlando, Dallas and Detroit, which host similar gatherings, and we look forward to keeping you informed about those activities as well. Also, there are many freethought groups throughout the U.S. and internationally, and we encourage you to participate with those groups as well.
We understand very well how isolating and frustrating being a nonbeliever can be. However, that doesn’t need to be a permanent state of being. And in helping to establish connections, we challenge each other to overcome past obstacles in order to evolve and progress towards a better existence. Religion is often not the only form of indoctrination we must overcome, and this is something that takes help from others, and strength from within. There must be a willingness on each of our parts to reflect and be honest about what we can do better for ourselves – whether it be physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s often a hard task, but an important one – especially for our own growth and development.
In the almost 3 years of our existence, I have received a substantial amount of feedback stating the BN has been a monumental influence in the lives of many individuals. There have been meaningful professional and personal relationships established as a result of the connections we foster, and this is something I am not only proud of, but also grateful for. And it has been because of your support, encouragement and participation that this is possible. We look forward to taking this to higher levels in the years to come.
In closing, I would like to thank each and everyone one of you for being part of the BN family. Please visit our website at http://www.blacknonbelievers.org for more information. The annual New Year’s Eve Bash is almost here, and we sincerely hope you will consider bringing in 2014 with us. Continue to enjoy the rest of this holiday season, and always remember that you are never alone.
Mandisa L. Thomas
Black Nonbelievers, Inc.
“Walking by Sight, NOT Faith!”