This was an open letter that I wrote to myself for relief after a rather tiresome day I had...Given the subject, it is full of anger but I will say that I felt a great sense of relief after writing it. I apologize if there is anything out of place or even confusing in here but as I stated, I was very angry.
Gilbert & George, BLACK CHURCH FACE 1980, Private collection, courtesy Sonnabend Gallery, New YorkI know that this has already been said by probably hundreds of black atheists on the interwebz, but I think that it’s my time to state the obvious, for old times sake:
There is no Christian like a Black Christian.
Truly there is not, and it’s a sight to be seen. Of course I will bring up the fact that the Church was one of the major points in the Civil Rights movements. It has already been stated that the black church was a place for gathering and meetings when no where else would accept us. This was our place to discuss the world, our place to dream... but in that sense, what has happened and what has lead me to hate Christianity with a passion that rivals that of our golden sun?
Its all has to do with the fact that we can’t seem to get the fuck out of church and into our own lives.
I couldn’t tell you when I started disbelieving in God but I can tell you when I discovered just how fucked up the dependency of God and the church has gotten within the black community. This dependency is like an addiction to crack; some people just can’t live without Jesus somewhere in their lives whether that means carrying a bible with them at all times or decorating their houses to resemble that of mini pulpits. For those that are not familiar with this, it can be a bit strange and seem even obsessive but there will always be a denial that this relationship with God is a good thing, even if it means sacrificing the one and only life they have simply thinking that by wasting hours on end in a church means there will be a spot reserved for them in heaven.
This is where it all beings; the pie in the sky mentality that has stunted so many people and have stopped them from doing something of total worth here on Earth. They like to argue that if life is bad down here, then there is nothing we can do but wait until the inevitable for a more glorified afterlife. In short, this message tells black to just give up and wallow until you’re sent to rot in a pine box. THIS is one of the big aspects of Christianity that I wish people, especially those in the black community, would wake the fuck up to. How in the fuck is this healthy? How in the fuck can you believe in something like this and how the fuck can you believe in a God that isn’t doing a fuckin’ thing to stop the negative notions in our lives, especially if you can apparently talk to him as well as pray to him every waking second of your life?
This is why I hate Christianity. It is a poison for the mind and to me it has the black community in its grips. We are seriously the only people that will take a hold of someone else’s flawed religion and then trick our ancestors into believing it. We have tricked ourselves into a cop-out by thinking that we can not do anything for ourselves and we are truly going to have a better life somewhere in the clouds. We may be free from the chains but until we truly start thinking for ourselves, we are not truly free. If we can not manage to live a single day without worrying that God has something to say, we are not free. If we have to spend more time in a Church than actually living the freedom so many have fought for, then we are not free. If we continue to teach our CHILDREN that we are so low and so insignificant without the help of God despite others being able to accomplish WONDERFUL things without the help of God, then we are not free. No. We are still slaves to a religion that continues to hold us down and bring out the worst of some of its flawed concepts.
Too many people think that love, faith and even strength started with the Bible, but you don’t need God to be faithful, you don’t need God to be loving or kind, and most of all you don’t need God to be strong. In that past three years, I have seen the effects of manic religion within my own family. I have always been considered the odd one out but that’s only because my likes were not that of a ‘traditional nice black girl’; I was really into arts and animation, I liked more obscure and punkish things but most of all, I was having doubts about Christianity, considering that I had many friends that were either not Christians or full blown Atheist who seemed to be just fine without having to pray to god. All of this had been harbored within me for years but it wasn’t until 2007 when all my doubt and anger were finally justified. In just two days, I learned how much shit Christianity was but I also learned just how enveloped the black community was within it. It was like a never ending pit of delusion and despair with the simple God band-aid slapped upon it. I was surrounded by people who had not the common sense of doing things and using their own strength to fix their own problems. I was surrounded by people who truly believed that God was constantly putting up road blocks in their lives and despite this, they still loved him. I was surrounded by people who willing put on blinder for the simple enjoyment that someone was saving them a seat in heaven. This was maddening and personally, I almost cried in Church because I could not believe people could not only be this obsessed with something that had done nothing for them but also force other into the mess with threats of rejection if they spoke otherwise.
It was an awakening for me yet I am still trapped in it. We have instilled the Christian trap into our minds so deeply that we have convinced ourselves that if one is not like us, they are against us, hence why so many black atheist are ‘in the closest’ per say. I find it rather heartbreaking that a white person, an Asian person, hell ANYONE that is not black could give a flying fuck if I believed in God and wouldn’t even ask me within meeting me if I believed in God. Of course, when in contact with a black person, the notion that I don’t believe in God will bring up a type of anger unseen by anything else. Is this necessary? No, it’s not. Is asking me if Jesus ‘is my lord and savoir’ necessary? No, of course not and I find it rather rude if a person would ask me this front out for no reason. That’s like me asking if a person wipes their ass after they take a dump; no one needs to know that and it’s none of their damn business to ask something so personal, even if they are attempting to be friendly. But no, we have hypnotized ourselves into thinking that Christianity is a gene in which all black people posses. We have tricked ourselves into thinking that any black person who is not a Christian is either in possession of the devil or in denial with themselves. Either one means sour looks or crass comments out loud, as if they expect their buddy Jesus to appear before them and give them a pat on the ass.
Why have we let this happen and why have we continued to let this envelope our minds? Instead of telling our children to pursue to their fullest, we are telling them that they couldn’t do shit if Jesus weren’t holding them like a string marionette and even worse, if bad things continue to happen to them it means that Jesus doesn’t want them to succeed and it’s a sign of love from above. Why would anyone find this uplifting or positive? Why would anyone even consider this to be advice or help? One could do much more ‘help’ by assisting physically than getting on their knees and praying spiritually. Even the word NO is less grating than someone who says ‘I’ll pray for Jesus to help you.’
But even with all my anger over what has happened to me over the past few years, its not that I want to abolish Christianity all together. No, even with my frustrations, I do not because even though I don’t believe in God nor have I felt the powers of Jesus, there are SOME quotes and quips from the Bible that speak the truth, mostly about love, respect, and kindness, something that common sense should tell us to do. However, people have brushed these passages under the rug, favoring those that spread hate and pipe-dreams and keeping a growing mind from reaching its full potential.
I am sorry that my bravery is limited to what I type as even now I fear to let those around me know that I am an atheist, but part of me wishes that I could get the courage to do so all the while telling them just because I don’t believe in god doesn’t mean I don’t have faith. Seriously, too many people think that love, faith and even strength started with the Bible, but you don’t need God to be faithful, you don’t need God to be loving or kind, and most of all you don’t need God to be strong. To see a person accomplish so much without worrying if God is going to get in their way and still be happy is one of the most heart raising things I could see. I have more faith in a person who actually helps someone and has a successful life without God than one who prays to God every day while battering down others. Sorry, but that’s how I feel because for all of those that continue to spout the tired tirade that ‘Jesus is going to rescue us!’ and ‘God will come through in the end!’ you are NOT helping. You are only encouraging a stagnant lifestyle of false hope and empty promises. If there is one thing I wish would happen, it’s that God would get the fuck out of the black community. His ideals have been holding us down for too long.
I know I will get a lot of back talk from this, but at this point, I don’t care. Religion has given me a headache; it has taken my spirit away and most of all it makes me hate the sight of our elders clutching bibles everywhere they go. It seems like a tired stereotype but its not. Of course within this, my atheism has made me want to encourage others who are having problems like this who know it’s wrong to sit and wait for nothing. We are given only one life to live by who the fuck knows (But its not God, that’s for sure) and the fact that we think that its OKAY to waste it by praying for nothing, is more than a sin. It's unacceptable and seems more like a sign of OCD than anything else, as this is a routine that we have engraved into our minds -- one that we fear will causes chaos if we disrupt it.
The only thing I can do as an atheist now is work my way out of here. Yes, it will be hard but in the end, it will be more satisfying to know that by doing this I have made my life better and that this is something that I have done myself, for my own benefit. To a certain group, this may seem selfish but I see it as a way of helping me gain my own independence which is more constructive than telling our children their day will come all the while shackling them within a place that is only stunting their minds but also whittling away what little time of their precious youth they have. I have come to my choice from experience and at this time, I do not care if others snub me down just because I refuse to follow a religion that justified our enslavement. No matter how much we try to inject any aspect of home into it, it’s the same rotten religion and no addition of morals or values are going to make up for that. The only thing I can really hope for is that those that come after me will have realized just how dangerous this has become and will inspire others to think for themselves instead of fearing and allowing some imaginary cloud god to think for them.