Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sikivu Hutchinson interviewed by The Secular Buddhist

Episode 66 :: Sikivu Hutchinson :: Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars, The Secular Buddhist. 34 minutes.

"Author and educator Sikivu Hutchinson speaks with us about her book, Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars." Hutchinson reviews her work and her background, including her secular upbringing. Her family was nonreligious and politically radical, but in a community saturated in religion, compounded by a Catholic school education.

Hutchinson strives for balance in the evaluation of black religious institutions from slavery to the present. The adoption of Christianity was a means of claiming personhood in Western civilization under extreme conditions. But the various hierarchies inhering in the Bible are deemed "corrosive and insidious", not to mention the rise of the prosperity gospel. There is also a link between the black religious right and the white religious right, for example, in opposition to abortion. Black Americans are the most religious and most disenfranchised group in the USA.

Hutchinson is concerned with the revisioning of public morality, especially in public education, with a view to the elimination of the various orders of hierarchy, which have their origins in and are reinforced by religion.

The question of racial imbalance in atheist groups is addressed. How can this be remedied? In addition to greater representation of black intellectuals and leaders in prominent positions, Hutchinson sees a need to revise priorities, away from the fixation on evolution and science literacy, to a broader range of concerns that can be found among black atheists. Why is organized religion such a compelling force? If one cannot answer this question in connection with the various forms of social discrimination, then atheism and humanism will have limited appeal to people of color. Hutchinson focuses specifically on the situation of black American women. White atheists have to become educated about these issues. Secular humanism has to be made more palatable to people of color. Consider the social welfare dimension of religious institutions.

Near-term objectives include becoming more organized. Small organizations exist. The first African Americans for Humanism Conference was held last year. Hutchinson has received considerable feedback on her book. Hutchinson was especially compelled by the anti-gay agitation of black churches in California. Black nonbelievers need a safe place to show their faces. Hutchinson's group is Black Skeptics.

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