Monday, June 27, 2011

Black Atheists and Reactionary Black Nationalism

By Norm R. Allen Jr.

Members of the Black Atheists of Atlanta are causing quite a stir on the Web with their provocative conception of Black atheism. They embrace a reactionary, African-centered worldview, from which they inevitably denounce homosexuality, Western civilization, and White people in general. In particular, they are all too willing to sacrifice the rights of LGBT people on the altar of African culture.

With so much conceptual confusion running through their minds, they are bound to experience much cognitive dissonance. For example, though they denounce Greek civilization and culture, they embrace the Greek term “atheist,” which means without a belief in God or gods. What is even more problematic is that many Afrocentrists, such as the late John Henrik Clarke, believe that atheism will never take root among people of African descent. Some Afrocentrists claim that atheism is so foreign to Africans that there is no word for atheism in any African language. The late Afrocentric scholar Asa G. Hilliard said that church/state separation is a concept that is totally foreign to Africans. How do reactionary, African-centered atheists deal with these problems?

To their credit, these reactionary Black atheists of Atlanta have learned well from the handbook of reactionary Black militancy. They poison the well by claiming that their critics are wrong because they are Whites, or Blacks that have been brainwashed by Whites. These dogmatic atheists are not above questioning the Blackness of their Black critics.

Ironically, the Blackness of reactionary nationalists is never questioned. Marcus Garvey formed an alliance with the KKK. Elijah Muhammad used Malcolm X to forge an alliance with George Lincoln Rockwell and the American Nazi Party. Louis Farrakhan formed an alliance with Tom Metzger and the White Aryan Resistance. Moreover, the Nation of Islam (NOI) leader has served as an apologist for bigoted slave owners in Sudan. If ever there is a time to question one’s Blackness, it surely ought to be when that person joins forces with the sworn enemies and murderers of Black people. Yet in these cases, reactionary Black leaders were given a free pass, while their Black critics were viewed warily.

The reactionary members of the Black Atheists of Atlanta view antipathy toward homosexuality as an African virtue. Due to exposure to good scholarship, however, they have quietly retreated away from the absurd claim that homosexuality did not exist in Africa before it was introduced by White Westerners. Still, they claim that Africans did not approve of it.

In truth, laws against homosexuality were introduced into Africa by White Christians. Today opposition to same-sex relations is fueled by White missionaries and Eurocentric Christianity. The proposed “kill the gays bill” in Uganda was deeply influenced by White missionaries. White missionaries have also influenced widespread homophobia in Malawi and other nations.

The reactionary nationalists of the Black Atheists of Atlanta insist that homosexuality is unnatural; hence they are opposed to it. However, this rationalization is weak. After all, for millennia, oral sex was considered unnatural, but today there are no major efforts to oppose it. Furthermore, men and women engage in anal sex, which for them could also be considered “unnatural.” Again, where is the outrage against heterosexuals engaged in this alleged abomination?

Regardless of what one thinks about homosexuality, consenting adults should have the right to do what they please as long as they are not hurting anyone else. Such an idea might be considered un-African by some, but it is a cornerstone of liberty.

These Reactionary Black Nationalists have much in common with religious fanatics. Religious fanatics insist that they have the one, true God. Similarly, these Reactionary Black Nationalists insist that genuine African culture and values are perfect. Conversely, all ideas that are believed to emanate from White people are to be immediately deemed suspect.

It is obvious to Reactionary Black Nationalists that Whites can learn much from Blacks. But should true knowledge and wisdom be color-coded? Can Blacks not learn a great deal about humanity from Shakespeare, about freethought and liberty from Robert Ingersoll, about philosophy from Bertrand Russell, etc.? Surely it only makes sense to embrace important truths wherever they are to be found, regardless of their source. This is what critical thinking is all about.

As quietly as it’s kept, one can be African-centered and progressive. The great freethinker Hubert Henry Harrison was consistently progressive in his pursuit for justice for people of African descent. W.E.B. Du Bois, considered by many to be the father of Pan-Africanism, was progressive. Today Black freethinkers such as Gary C, Booker of Atlanta and Kwadwo Obeng of California via Ghana are progressive African-centered thinkers.

Black freethinkers must not succumb to the seductive rhetoric of Reactionary Black Nationalists. With enough humanity, originality, and creative intelligence, Black non-theists can come up with a progressive vision for society that can positively transform the world.

For 21 years, Norm R. Allen Jr. was the only full-time African American secular humanist activist traveling the world promoting secular humanism. He is the editor of two books, The Black Humanist Experience and African American Humanism.


  1. Well said Mr. Norm R. Allen. These comments made and stance taken by these Black Atheists are right out of the book of Afrocentrism, and although, I think one can be "Afrocentric" and Atheist,in that I mean one can accepting his/her African culture/Cultures heritage, but, at the same time must acknowledge that these African cultures are, like Euro-centric cultures, full with irrationalities and fullish beliefs that needs to be eradicated.
    As a black Atheist and a believer in equal rights for all, I am disappointed by the comments made by these characters.

  2. Well said Norm, these clueless people need to be called out and their bigoted pronouncements denounced and condemned by all who believe in human rights for all.

  3. "They (i.e. Reactionary Black Nationalist) denounce Greek civilization and culture; yet, embrace the Greek term “Atheist,” which means without a belief in God or gods.

    That's not completely true, Norm R. Allen! Black Nationalist understand that the ancient Greeks according to the Father of Greek History (i.e. Herodotus) owe a lot to the education they received from black people. Remember! A lot of the ancient knowledge of blacks was destroyed; so, in that effect we can't necessarily claim that the "conceptual framework" of Atheism is a purely Greek phenomenon! I think Norm R. Allen is being too critical and willing to denounce Black Nationalism in favor of his multi-cultural progressive ideals. Nevertheless, I'm sure Black Nationalist wouldn't go so far as to reject everything of Greek culture. I surely don't; yet, I identify myself with Black Nationalism.

    Historically speaking Atheism has it's roots firmly planted in ancient Africa (i.e. Egypt) although the term Atheism wasn't invented then. Egyptologist, James P. Allen, investigates that in Ancient Egypt during the Middle Kingdom (i.e. 2040-1640 B.C.E.) there was a poem (i.e. The Song of The Harper) found in the tomb of King Intef.

    This poem suggested that: ‘a person should enjoy the good things in life, avoid contemplation of death, and expresses doubt about the reality of an afterlife’ [End Quote]. Nevertheless, I applaud Europeans for preserving Atheism and even acknowledging that Atheism has historical roots in ancient africa (i.e. Egypt).

    The Greeks cataloged the word Atheist, while the later French Enlightenment of the 17th century made it intellectually respectable to identify oneself as an Atheist. Now upheld and translated through wider forums with a larger audience in the 21st century.

  4. "The late John Henrik Clarke believes that Atheism will never take root among people of African descent". [End Quote]

    Really? I would like for Norm R. Allen to provide source citations for that claim because I'm pretty sure Dr. Clarke said no such thing! In any case, the late professor Dr. John Henrik Clarke always held the belief that whatever it is that black people do we need to place a Black Stamp of approval on it! Dr. Clarke was against the White Atheist Materialist of Europe and embraced the Black Atheist Spiritualist beliefs of ancient Africa (i.e. Egypt) which is verified by Afrocentrist John G. Jackson (i.e. whom personally knew Dr. Clarke and his literary works) in his study of ancient Egyptian spiritual beliefs:

    1). “The Africans (i.e. Egyptians, Kemetians, e.t.c.)had an Atheistic type of religion, and they were a deeply religious people! They believed that Man not only has a body; but, he also has a mind, soul, or spirit! For instance, if you went to a temple in ancient Egypt and told the priest that You wanted Horus (i.e. the Egyptian Christ) to save Your Soul- He would tell You not to waste His time! That Horus, Osiris, Isis or nobody else is going to save Your Soul except You! If you want a better life the next time you comeback You’ll have to have to earn it Yourself! The Gods are not going to give it to you! The Egyptians told these people if You want a better life the next time You come back to Earth, you live a good life now…then when you comeback You’ll have a better life, but if You lead an evil life then the next time You comeback it’ll be worse. So it’s up to You! They told people not to pray to God(s) or angels or anything to save them, it was their job to save themselves!” [Dr John. G. Jackson, Pan-African Historian; April 1st 1907-October 13th 1993]

  5. "Some Afrocentrists (i.e. Asa G. Hilliard) claim that Atheism is so foreign to Africans that there is no word for Atheism in any African language". [End Quote]

    No it isn't! The "conceptual framework" of Atheism certainly existed in ancient Africa (i.e. Egypt) before the arrival of any foreigner. Dr. Asa G. Hilliard is simply mistaken or hasn't really delved deep into this subject to give any kind of absolute certainty that noone in Africa didn't believe in the deities or at least used these archetypal motifs AS IF there was a God, while at the same time holding a deeper understanding that God is the Self, e.t.c. This is why in Africa you will find socities that are atheistic in content and at the same time hold a spiritual belief. Atheism is compatible with spirituality and quite a few modern Atheist have testified to this!

    In Conclusion:

    As a black African centered so-called reactionary black Nationalist I think that Norm R. Allen is simply writing to appease his audience of progressives; yet, in so doing he manages to throw black nationalist under the bus at the same time. He often misquotes or re-interpret what he reads from the writings of afrocentist like Dr. John Henrik Clarke to support his belief in racial mixing, multi-culturalism, pluralism, e.t.c.

    Dr. Terrence Ward a.k.a. Saint Max
    Doctorate of Arts in MMO Conspiracy Studies
    Company: Atheos Records

  6. So as an out Atheist in an Afro-Centric Intentional community in Northern California, I feel I should jump in on this.

    @Terrence I agree with his analysis, Atheism definitely existed in Africa. and @Norm I agree, homosexuality definitely existed in Africa.

    I have gotten beaten up for years by "reactionary black nationalist" on the question of homosexuality.

    However I see the tides turning and if the Afrocentric movement is to stay relevant to our youth, we as Afrocentrist are going to have to join in with our youth and embrace, and treat folk equally regardless of their sexual orientation, and even race.

  7. Dr. Terrence Ward has much to say. First, I spoke with Dr. Clarke, and interviewed him for a segment of a radio news program called Voice of Inquiry back in the 1990s. Prior to that, Dr. Clarke expressed his doubts about the possibilities for atheism in Africa on the late Listervelt Middleton's South Carolina Educational Television program "For the People,"which aired on Howard University's television station in D.C. and elsewhere in the 1980s. In any case, I did not denounce Black nationalism per se. I denounced REACTIONARY BLACK NATIONALISM. As far as the term "atheism," it is a Greek term. I never said that atheism is a purely Greek phenomenon. Still, why are Reactionary Black Nationalists using a Greek term to identify themselves? Anyway, Dr. Ward claims that the Egyptians embraced atheism as a type of religion in which they believed in a soul or spirit. If this is not conceptual confusion, what is it? Did they also believe in square circles and circular squares? And if you die, what true atheist believes that you are going to come back? Dr. Ward is simply mistaken if he believes that atheism is compatible with spirituality. They are complete and utter opposites. Finally, I don't write to appease anyone. I write to express myself and to hopefully leave the world better than I found it. Still, I would like to know who Dr. Ward is trying to appease.

    1. "Dr. Ward is simply mistaken if he believes that Atheism is compatible with spirituality. They are complete and utter opposites!" [End Quote]

      Well, Dr. Norm, it's not about what I believe or don't believe. It's the fact that Atheism is compatible with spirituality and quite a few spiritual Atheist have either A). written books on this, or B). formed social networking groups for Spiritual Atheist to discuss Spiritual Atheism, e.t.c. Let's hear a testimonial from a Spiritual Atheist himself:

      "I am an Atheist! This may not seem to particularly qualify me to talk about spiritual matters. I believe it does, and uniquely I see atheism as a sort of minimalist spiritual perspective, one that has stripped away so much of what we usually think of as spiritual — the supernatural — that the essence of spirituality can be seen more clearly. Our lives are such small things. It's the little happinesses of life that give it meaning. Some laughter, some conversation, good food and a little sex, satisfaction at a job well done, a walk on the beach, making a difference, even if its a small difference, seeing your children become happy, healthy, productive adults, washing your car, a game of cards, a good movie, a beer.... God is in the details! Life is hard. Very hard for many people. Nature is what it is, does what it does, whether we enjoy it or not. Love or don't love? It doesn't matter to nature. But with open eyes and hearts we do find meaning, even if it isn't glorified with the title of "ultimate." [Boeree, G.C. "Thoughts on The Spirituality of Atheism". 2001]

      The problem with Dr. Norm is that he refuses to see the world other than his Eurocentrick framework allows him to see. In the late 20th century many White Atheist(s) took toward an Afrocentric approach to Atheism arguing in favor of spirituality rather than a materialistic philosophical framework. Some Atheist(s) argue that 'Atheist Spirituality is not just a possibility; but, an inevitability and one that is core to human experience' [End Quote].

      Internet References:

      1). Packham, Richard. "Atheist Spirituality". Atheism;, 1998
      2). Center for Spiritual Atheism. "About Spiritual
      Atheism".; 2008

      Literary References:

      1). Sponville, C. Andre. "The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality". Viking Adult, December 27 1 2007.
      2). Van Ness, H. Peter. "Spirituality and the Secular Quest". The Crossroad Publishing Company; September 1st 1996.
      3). Antinoff, Steve: "Spiritual Atheism" . Counterpoint; January 19 th 2010.
      4). Solomon, C. Robert. "Spirituality for the Skeptic: The Thoughtful Love of Life". Oxford University Press 1 st Edition; May 16 lh 2002

    2. "If you die; then, what true Atheist believes that you are going to come back?" [End Quote]

      Lol! So, now there are true and false Atheist? Come on, Dr. Norm, you know better than this. Again! You refuse to see the world only from what your European controllers want you to see. There are some Atheist who genuinely believe in reincarnation (i.e. take me for example) and/or a more loose Secular afterlife that doesn't subscribe to reincarnation; but, to life after death through fulfillment of the ego (i.e. as espoused by the Church of Satan). Clearly! Dr. Norm hasn't done his research.

  8. Who are these reactionary black nationalists atheists in Atlanta anyway? I live near Atlanta and am wondering if I know any of these folks.

  9. This article hits on why arbitrary atheist grouping is a fools errand. A group that is associated on a mere negation is directionless and subject to irrational manipulations.

    Humanism and skepticism seem to be a more appropriate focus where atheism is just one pragmatic attribute on a frequently debated list.

  10. Norm R. Allen Jr., this is a personal invitation to the Black Atheist of Atlanta show. I produce the show and they are always looking for guess to have a discussion with. You can contact me on


  11. blackafricanpower,always looking for a good debate.

  12. @Norm This is a great piece! As for Black Atheists of Atlanta, as a black atheist from Atlanta, that show embarasses all three groups: blacks, atheists and Atlantans. It's ironic that that show is on a religious network and not Channel 14, the cable public access network.

    Also "Dr. Ward" is a fake. Look at his signature:

    Dr. Terrence Ward a.k.a. Saint Max
    Doctorate of Arts in MMO Conspiracy Studies
    Company: Atheos Records

    If you had a doctorate and spent all that time studying for it, why would you have an "a.k.a." and also, when you get a Ph.D., it's a Doctorate of *Philosophy*, not *Arts*. Arts stops after the Masters degree, that's why a Masters is an MA (or MS).

  13. "If you had a doctorate and spent all that time studying for it; then, why would you have an a.k.a. and/or alias?" [End Quote]

    Easy! Why wouldn't I have an a.k.a. and/or alias considering that I'm involved in the entertainment industry? It's imperative that I have multiple names. You ask the most asinine questions! I don't think even my baby sister could be that desperate. You're not that good as a social commentator, Mr. Alex!

    "When you get a Ph.D it's a Doctorate of Philosophy not Arts". [End Quote]

    You're an idiot, Mr. Alex! In your hasty generalization to criticize me without doing your background investigation has demonstrated the level of your insincerity. I never claimed to have a PH.D. because I'm not a graduate of any philosophy program and/or liberal arts major (i.e. theology, law, medicine, e.t.c.). My usage of the abbreviated letters D.A. is correctly applied for the specific discipline of studies I achieved!


    Before you open your mouth, Mr. Alex, next time at least get your facts together!

  14. African-American Sovereign Nation-State in Africa - under international law - the right of return. Sign the petition to the United Nation and more at

  15. So good topic really i like any post talking about Ancient Greece but i want to say thing to u Ancient Greece not that only ... you can see in Ancient Greece AncientGreece.Me and more , you shall search in Google and Wikipedia about that .... thanks a gain ,,,

  16. The Doctorate of Arts in MMO Conspiracy Studies is derived from Madalyn Murray O'Hair. She was considered by most to be the "Most hated woman in America" for in 1960 sued the Superior Court of Baltimore, Maryland claiming that the city's public schools violated her son's first amendment rights for his refusal to take practice in the school's religious morning exercise (Bryan F. Le Beau - Becoming The Most Hated Woman in America: Madalyn Murray O'Hair).

    Actually found the "Doctorate of Arts" on Ebay,

    Interesting indeed...

  17. "Ben Klassen's books are hard hitting and to the point! This puts people off sometimes; but, his research and solutions are right on the money....and he doesn't refer to Creators as Atheists since they have a religious belief based on race". [End Quote]

    Well, the problem with Ben Klassen is that he rants-n-raves throughout much of his literature about religion and/or spirituality; but, fails to highlight for his readers that the very Atheist position he adopts for his Creativity Movement of there being no God is antithetical to European white culture. Ben Klassen apparently hasn't done his historical research to understand that Atheism as taught by the Eurocentric Greeks (i.e. white people) wasn't accepted by the overall Greek government. To be an Atheist in ancient Greece meant social suicide (i.e. imprisonment, exiled, and/or put to death):

    "The common materialistic Atheistic outlook is antithetical to the ancient White European morals. Nowhere in the history of the White European race has there been a religion like Creativity (i.e. White Atheism), in which there is no afterlife of any sort and the material is all that is real. The profound belief in the higher immaterial order has always been dominant. Even Adolf Hitler opposed Atheism in a speech in Berlin of October 24th, 1933! The Third Reich government, in their quest to regenerate the German people, actively suppressed and removed Atheism". [Anonymous. "A Critique of Ben Klassen's Creativity Ideology and its Relation to Other Religions". JR's Rare Books and Commentary, N/D]

    Now! The question is raised where did the Greeks obtain their Atheistic stance? Well, we know from the Father of Greek History (i.e. Herodotus) that the Greeks traveled up-n-down Africa learning all sorts of ideas in order to take back to their homeland and repackaged them into a workable Eurocentric framework.

    Ben Klassen made it publicly known in his book "Expanding Creativity" that Creators aren't Atheist. However, this is simply begging the question and demonstrates that Ben Klassen has chosen to refrain from identifying himself and his adherents as Atheist per-se in public...choosing instead to identify his Atheism with race without having to officially identify as Atheist. For Ben Klassen and his particular variety of Atheism race is his first priority! Ben Klassen in his book "Expanding Creativity" didn't necessarily have a problem with Atheism per-se; but, he did have a problem with White Atheist who adopted so-called liberal social progressive ideals (i.e. abortion, homosexuality, race mixing, e.t.c.) such as American Atheist, Freedom From Religion Foundation, e.t.c.

    This caused Ben Klassen to be upset with predominantly White Atheist organizations such as those headed by North America's most famous white female Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair because she didn't want to be associated with the views of Ben Klassen and his Creativity Movement. I am not trying to say that Ben Klassen and his version of Atheism is wrong and/or in error because as far I'm concerned he developed a more purer form of White Atheism than his predecessors ever could dream of. In my professional opinion, Ben Klassen was correct to identify his Atheism with his race. He was a White Atheist who associated his Atheism with a European perspective (i.e. White Nationalism). Ben Klassen reasoned that it didn't make any sense to be a Generic Atheist of the mainstream Atheist community identifying with so-called liberal progressive social values (i.e. homosexuality, abortion, race mixing, e.t.c.). This explains why he talked so much about the laws of reproduction, nature's eternal religion, and/or rejected suicide cults like Christianity. Unfortunately, Ben Klassen became a victim of his own rhetoric because he himself committed suicide just like his ancient White Atheist brother Socrates who drank hemlock (i.e. poison)!

  18. "Even if white European culture had pagan beliefs in the past or a belief in a fictional afterlife, they were still wrong because those beliefs fail the bar of reason". [End Quote]

    Nevertheless, the fact remains that white European culture always had a belief in an afterlife until the ancient Greek philosophers (i.e. Socrates, Theodorus The Atheist, e.t.c.) traveled to Africa to learn the truth about the afterlife and comeback home to their country only to be ridiculed. Now! Ben Klassen throughout his literature rants-n-raves about how the black man is a plague; yet, he adopts a philosophical position (i.e. no God, e.t.c.) that is anti-theoretical to the very same white culture he valiantly fights so hard to defend by introducing foreign ideology which is uniquely African! Can you say hypocrite? How come Ben Klassen doesn't highlight these historical facts throughout his literary publications? I can only suspect that he wants to hide the atheological African aspects of his movement. The Africans (i.e. black people) were the first to deny the aspects of God and an afterlife; so, why is Ben Klassen following in the same footsteps as these Africans whom racist whites consider as savages?

    So, what I find amusing about White Atheist (i.e. Creativity Theorist) is that they acknowledge the Stage 1 and/or Stage 2 Civilizations among the Greeks and Romans; but, eventually often succumb to the very same culture they themselves valiantly fight so hard to reject as in the case of White Atheist Ben Klassen committing suicide by taking sleeping pills:

    "On August 6, 1993 Ben Klassen committed suicide at the age of 75 by swallowing four bottles of sleeping pills". [ADL. "Creativity Movement". Anti-Defamation League, 2005-2011]

    Ahahahahaha!!!! I couldn't have written a better headline story than that; yet, this is a prime example of White Atheism and the suicide undercurrent that flows throughout its ideology. I warn our Black Atheist brothers to stay away from White Atheism because you might end up getting involved in a suicide movement!

  19. "Laws against homosexuality were introduced into Africa by White Christians". [Dr. Norm R. Allen]

    False! Apparently, Dr. Norm doesn't like to study black history in its proper context because before any white person entered Africa black people certainly had laws, ordinances, e.t.c. against homosexuality. Has Dr. Norm ever read the 42 Negative Confessions of Maati (i.e. 42 Laws of The Goddess) or how about Egyptian proclamations of individuals affirming that they have not defiled the body by committing acts of homosexuality? Why is Dr. Norm spreading false information about Africa and it's people when he's African himself? I can tell the audience why it's because Dr. Norm has a white European education!

  20. As a materialist of African descent and identity, there IS a position on the question of homosexuality that I DON'T see represented in forums such as this one. Specifically, one that genuinely acknowledges the real right of persons designating themselves as LBGT to be treated as fully human, while at the same time, not viewing as a contradiction-- being a non-advocate of that orientation. It seems to me that Africans who are materialist of some sort are only left with 2 positions on this issue: 1, either acknowledge yourself as a freethinker, totally in support of ALL issues relevant to LBGT political interest, or 2, be viewed as some kind of homophobic anti-human only pretending to be a humanist. There ARE materialist of African descent who find the stance that many of those represented by such groups as Black Atheist of Atlanta to be really anti-human (I, personally, have a hard time imagining any active defense by such of LBGT humanity--but who knows? I could be wrong), who at the same time understand supporting their humanity does not necessitate advocacy of their orientation. The "either fo' it of agin' it" position imho is a false dichotomy.

  21. To me, whether or not the Africans as a whole are not atheist, let us face it, religion has played a major role in African people destruction. Religion has never moved African people forward, what has it done. That is the real problem of the Kemetians, they were so into religion, they could not be critical thinkers on the line that they had created all these wonders of the world, but did not ever think there would be somthing out there lurking to come in to take it. They came in with religion, and did them in. Religion did not allow them to buildprotection for all the greatness they had created, and not today Arabs and Europeans said they build the pyramids, which is a lie, we were building before they ever presented on the planet, this can be proven.

  22. To me, whether or not the Africans as a whole are not atheist, let us face it, religion has played a major role in African people destruction. Religion has never moved African people forward, what has it done. That is the real problem of the Kemetians, they were so into religion, they could not be critical thinkers on the line that they had created all these wonders of the world, but did not ever think there would be somthing out there lurking to come in to take it. They came in with religion, and did them in. Religion did not allow them to buildprotection for all the greatness they had created, and not today Arabs and Europeans said they build the pyramids, which is a lie, we were building before they ever presented on the planet, this can be proven.