Beyond Atheism: An Intersectional Approach to Exploring Secular Identity and Religion among Black Women




Taylor, Keila Denise

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Despite the vast amount of research conducted by scholars on African Americans and religion, little is known the secular African American. Using qualitative methods, twenty secular Black women were recruited to participate in one on one, in-depth interviews to discuss how they navigate their social lives and shape their social identity without the direct influence of traditional Black theology. I conclude Black women reject Christianity because of their inability to reconcile the inhumane way Africans acquired it and Christianity's inaccurate representation of Jesus, which implicitly endorse ideas of white supremacy. The further my participants educate themselves on Black history, the further they distance themselves from institutionalized religion. In addition to college presenting an ideal opportunity to question and critique their religion safely, these Black women construct belief systems that cater more to their character, a belief system that they insist empowers and grants them a freedom they could not attain within the confines of Black Christianity. Due to the lack of social support that caters to all of their marginalized identities simultaneously, nonreligious Black women must find creative strategies to receive the benefits typically associated with the Black church. This includes generating more private individual practices that encourage fulfillment within oneself. Overall, this study offers a counter narrative to white atheist narratives stereotypically linked with secularism and men. Furthermore, it encourages investigation into the social existence of a non-religious community often disregarded and ignored by current scholars.


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Black women, identity, intersectionality, qualitative methods, religion, secular