Religious skepticism isn't new to black America. But in recent years, more blacks are identifying as secularist.
On HuffPost Live Wednesday, a group of black atheists came together to discuss how their decision is received by family, friends and the larger community. Sikivu Hutchinson, the author of "Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels," said black women have increasingly become involved in the secular movement because of the "extremely reactionary, draconian era" we live in that commodifies the sexuality of women.
"We've seen constant attacks, a constant barrage of ads, of messaging, of iconography, that dehumanizes women of color, particularly around issues of reproductive justice, abortion, and contraception," Hutchinson said. "There is such a demonizing dynamic within mainstream media that connects the sexuality of black women in particular with these moral traditions. That in order to be fully feminine, to be fully human, you have to be Christian identified, and black women have always been the signifier of a debased moral savage sexuality to begin with. So if we are not prayed up and churched up and faith-based, then we are all the more the fallen women with scarlet letters."
Atheist Jamila Bey shared similar sentiments. Bey, who writes about sex, politics, religion and race on her website "Spar With Jamilla Bey," said she feels that oftentimes those who are evangelizing are attempting to control you, including the way you behave sexually.
"It's a problem that amongst African Americans there's this narrative that says in order to be authentically black, one must be God-fearing, or one must be a good godly woman or a good godly man," Bey said. "It's not true, it's never been true and thanks to the Internet, which we atheists own, more of us are coming out."