Blacks say atheists were unseen civil rights heroes

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RNS photo by Bob Mahoney.

RNS photo by Bob Mahoney.

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Why is Martin Luther King, a Christian, remembered by so many for his contributions to the civil rights movement while A. Philip Randolph, an atheist, is honored by so few? That is a question many black nonbelievers are asking this Black History Month. By Kimberly Winston.

  • Bart

    Excellent article, glad to see it.

    Freethinkers are less trusted by the African-AQmerican community than they are by any other group in the nation. That Martin Luther King helped free his people from 2nd class citizenship, but not the enslavement of the white man’s religious-think- due to his own religious affliction -. is a missed opportunity, and great sadness.

    Intense religiosity is indeed the Black man’s burden.

    Butterfly McQueen said it best: “As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion.”

  • sbowman52

    “These people had a moral core and that’s something that is sorely needed, whether you are a theist or a nontheist.”

    I agree, a moral core is sorely needed.

    Their moral core did not come from thin air; it was transmitted to them from religious people and from religion, from a higher source. So, while they may have been non-theists, their moral code upon which they acted was rooted in absolute truths: men and women should be free. Otherwise, no one has any more right to impose one view over another.

    So, let’s celebrate their positive contributions and their memory, but not their atheism, because atheism devolves into tyranny in the end. Let’s recognize that the “love your neighbor as yourself” from Christianity is the bedrock upon which justice can be founded and flourish.

  • Str8truth

    Joh 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. (32) And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

    Ultimate Truth only comes from God the Father who gave His Son as perfect sacrifice for our sin, and by Holy Spirit we come to know this Truth.

  • rezon1

    Such arrogance from sbo and str! Can you say “Holier-than-thou,” “Sanctimonious,” “Prideful?”

    Do you actually think no one can be moral without your God? It’s time you separate your theology from morality. I grant than anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus as their personal savior is doomed according to your theology – but immoral? No.

    A challenge: Name one good thing that a believer can do that a non-believer can’t and hasn’t done. Then name one bad thing that hasn’t been commanded and/or sanctioned by God in His Word.

    Don’t forget that those who opposed Dr. King’s Civil Rights Crusade were Bible-quoting conservative Christians, including Jerry Falwell and other prominent religious leaders. Obviously, being a Christian and living in America under the influence of Christianity don’t guarantee moral behavior, even among believers.

    From my examples it is obvious that it is the responsibility of each believer to discover morality for themselves. Simply reading the Bible, praying, attending church services and listening to preachers is not enough. Otherwise so many would not be led astray.

    Your claim that Atheism devolves into tyranny in the end neglects the fact that so does religion including Christianity. Christians can’t get off that easily. There can be no doubt that happened in the case of slavery and the struggle for equal rights for African-Americans.

    You also display your ignorance of history when you claim Christianity as the only possible source of “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Even Christianity’s “Golden Rule” existed earlier in Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. Since you would consider those cultures to be pagan, it’s obvious Buddha and Zoroaster didn’t need help from Jesus to be moral.

  • Bart



  • Bart

    Where are the atheists who riot, burn and kill over insult / a burned book?
    Where are the atheists who picket funerals of soldiers, curse their families and spew hate all over homosexuality?
    Where are the atheist organizations that hide member child rape, and protect the rapists?
    Where are the atheists who seek to rule over women’s reproductive systems; withhold life saving condoms from 3rd world peoples devestated by AIDS and insufficient resources; or condemn science and fight break throughs in medical research that will cure disease, improve the quality of life, and save lives?

    The religionists say atheists are the immoral ones, the ones bereft of ethics.
    If that were true, we’d be like them.

  • Camel Breath

    I really do not think any degradation or insult is imparted by the few inferences concerning people whom did not refer to themselves as Christians. No person that was actually in the movement would say they were excluded or given back of the bus status. The people whom participated were not required to show I.D. , fill out an application or jump through hoops to join. All were welcomed to march, sing, get pelted with objects and have the other experiences that were a part of the struggle. I must take issue with the articles assertion that many atheists were in the movement however.// I think that had there been so many atheists involved as stated , we would’ve never been meeting so often in churches and church member homes. If there was ever a meeting held in an atheists home , would the author please state when and where ? The acknowledged leaders of the movement were mostly preachers and well known lay people of the churches, all of them welcomed support from everyone. I thank everyone, now, even the few who were atheists and I pray they came to Jesus , before it was too late for them to do so .