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Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars

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The word atheism elicits shock, dread, anger, and revulsion among most African Americans. They view atheism as "amoral," heresy, and race betrayal. Historically, the Black Church was a leading force in the fight for racial justice. Today, many black religious leaders have aligned themselves with the Religious Right. While black communities suffer economically, the Black Ch The word atheism elicits shock, dread, anger, and revulsion among most African Americans. They view atheism as "amoral," heresy, and race betrayal. Historically, the Black Church was a leading force in the fight for racial justice. Today, many black religious leaders have aligned themselves with the Religious Right. While black communities suffer economically, the Black Church is socially conservative on women's rights, abortion, same sex marriage, and church/state separation. These religious "values wars" have further solidified institutional sexism and homophobia in black communities. Yet, drawing on a rich tradition of African American free thought, a growing number of progressive African American non-believers are openly questioning black religious and social orthodoxies. Moral Combat provides a provocative analysis of the political and religious battle for America's soul. It examines the hijacking of civil rights by Christian fascism; the humanist imperative of feminism and social justice; the connection between K-12 education and humanism; and the insidious backlash of Tea Party-style religious fundamentalism against progressive social welfare public policy. Moral Combat also reveals how atheists of color are challenging the whiteness of "New Atheism" and its singular emphasis on science at the expense of social and economic justice. In Moral Combat, Sikivu Hutchinson highlights the cultural influence of African American humanist and atheist social thought in America. She places this tradition within the broader context of public morality and offers a far-reaching vision for critically conscious humanism


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The word atheism elicits shock, dread, anger, and revulsion among most African Americans. They view atheism as "amoral," heresy, and race betrayal. Historically, the Black Church was a leading force in the fight for racial justice. Today, many black religious leaders have aligned themselves with the Religious Right. While black communities suffer economically, the Black Ch The word atheism elicits shock, dread, anger, and revulsion among most African Americans. They view atheism as "amoral," heresy, and race betrayal. Historically, the Black Church was a leading force in the fight for racial justice. Today, many black religious leaders have aligned themselves with the Religious Right. While black communities suffer economically, the Black Church is socially conservative on women's rights, abortion, same sex marriage, and church/state separation. These religious "values wars" have further solidified institutional sexism and homophobia in black communities. Yet, drawing on a rich tradition of African American free thought, a growing number of progressive African American non-believers are openly questioning black religious and social orthodoxies. Moral Combat provides a provocative analysis of the political and religious battle for America's soul. It examines the hijacking of civil rights by Christian fascism; the humanist imperative of feminism and social justice; the connection between K-12 education and humanism; and the insidious backlash of Tea Party-style religious fundamentalism against progressive social welfare public policy. Moral Combat also reveals how atheists of color are challenging the whiteness of "New Atheism" and its singular emphasis on science at the expense of social and economic justice. In Moral Combat, Sikivu Hutchinson highlights the cultural influence of African American humanist and atheist social thought in America. She places this tradition within the broader context of public morality and offers a far-reaching vision for critically conscious humanism

30 review for Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nikhil P. Freeman

    Dr. Hutchinson did it on ‘em, she ran the streets and broke up houses on that ass. Yes she did, totally eviscerated the animosity of religiosity found within the African American community and snatched the wig completely off of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy in its many forms. YES, YES, YES! I loved how she shows the benefits of humanism as a framework to combat the ills of racism, heterosexism, and class inequalities. Heathens, people of color, women, LGBTs, and the underclass (the Oth Dr. Hutchinson did it on ‘em, she ran the streets and broke up houses on that ass. Yes she did, totally eviscerated the animosity of religiosity found within the African American community and snatched the wig completely off of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy in its many forms. YES, YES, YES! I loved how she shows the benefits of humanism as a framework to combat the ills of racism, heterosexism, and class inequalities. Heathens, people of color, women, LGBTs, and the underclass (the Others) all intersect and are always asked, demanded, to be glorified geographer-psychologists within the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy—we must know our place at all times—where we’ve been, where we’re going, and who exactly do we think we are. Also, Dr. Hutchinson deserves 5 stars alone for exposing the mayhem and shenanigans of the scientific cult known as scientism. Being a nonbeliever does not automatically include being free of racism, heterosexism, or any other colorful ways sheer ignorance manifests itself nor should science be responsible for answering the moral questions of a society. Scientism has brought about such madness as drapetomania, racial hygiene/negative eugenics, and my favorite, the floating uterus theory of hysteria. This is a good book to read and realize that you are not alone and not crazy for thinking, feeling, seeing, and believing these very same things and having no one safe enough to share them with in a constructive and intelligent way.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nebuchadnezzar

    In Moral Combat, Sikivu Hutchinson provides a searing indictment of... well, the list would get extremely long fairly quick. Hutchinson provides an informed critique of the role of the black church in American society, noting its role in the civil rights movement as well as its more recent footsie-playing with the religious right. By exploring the intersection between religion, class, race, gender, and sexual orientation, Hutchinson manages to simultaneously keep her focus on a narrow and unders In Moral Combat, Sikivu Hutchinson provides a searing indictment of... well, the list would get extremely long fairly quick. Hutchinson provides an informed critique of the role of the black church in American society, noting its role in the civil rights movement as well as its more recent footsie-playing with the religious right. By exploring the intersection between religion, class, race, gender, and sexual orientation, Hutchinson manages to simultaneously keep her focus on a narrow and understudied topic while also touching on broad themes that will be relevant to a wide variety of readers. While she traces the recent rise of black secularists and atheists, she also excoriates the "new atheism" and current secularism for its scientism and failure to challenge class, racial, and gender hierarchies both internally and within society at large. She uses the history of eugenics and "scientific racism" to demonstrate how supporting science and church-state separation, while a laudable goal, is incomplete without an additional focus on social justice issues. The tone manages to be fiery and polemic without becoming hyperbolic. Hutchinson is a much-needed gadfly in secularism and the book provides something far more fresh in this arena than the zillionth debunking of creationism.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Book

    Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Value Wars by Sikivu Hutchinson "Moral Combat" is an enlightening book about the current struggle of black humanist atheist beliefs from a feminist point of view. This informative 280-page book is composed of the following eight chapters: 1. "Out of the Closet": Black Atheists in Moral Combat, 2. This Far by Faith? Race traitors and Gender Apostates, 3. The Politics of Urban Religiosity, 4. Black Infidels: Secular Humanism and African Americ Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Value Wars by Sikivu Hutchinson "Moral Combat" is an enlightening book about the current struggle of black humanist atheist beliefs from a feminist point of view. This informative 280-page book is composed of the following eight chapters: 1. "Out of the Closet": Black Atheists in Moral Combat, 2. This Far by Faith? Race traitors and Gender Apostates, 3. The Politics of Urban Religiosity, 4. Black Infidels: Secular Humanism and African American Social Thought, 5. Not Knocking on Heaven's Door, 6. In God We Trust: Whiteness and Public Morality, 7. The White Stuff: New Atheism and Its Discontents, and 8. The Road Ahead. Positives: 1. Well researched, elegant and passionate prose. 2. I love books that provides me with a unique and new perspective on topics that I care about and this book does exactly that. 3. A book with conviction. Ms. Hutchinson provides compelling arguments for all her positions. 4. Great use of studies and well grounded references to back up her points. 5. This is the first book that makes it perfectly clear to me why African Americans embraced Christianity. With a number of well conceived explanations that hammers the point home. Bravo! 6. The key differences between black and white atheists. 7. An understanding of African American politics. 8. The courage to come out as an atheist in the black community. 9. The role of patriarchy and its impact. 10. The stranglehold of religion in the African American community. 11. Great wisdom throughout, "When the language of a given creed opposes human rights, no moral high ground can be claimed." 12. Religion and economics. 13. The dangers of faith based initiatives. Including the prison variety... 14. Prayers as the primary means of emotional therapy and why that is so. 15. Great quotes from African American atheists. "If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him." - James Baldwin. 16. Frederick Douglass the intellectual pioneer of African American free thought. 17. A historical look at African American atheism. 18. How the business of organized religion is detrimental to poor blacks. Fascinating topic. 19. How the Bible's view of violence against women justify treating them like property. 20. The truth about morality. 21. Thought-provoking book that challenges old cultural views. Example, scientific studies that indicate that there is "little solid evidence of sex differences in children's brains." My skeptic nature will force me to follow up on this since it goes against my preconceived notion but I will accept the facts according to the best evidence. 22. So much enlightening history in this book including recent history such as the Texas Board of Education making a mockery of the very institution they are suppose to uphold. 23. The issue of abortion. 24. God as the last refuge of scoundrels. 25. Pigliucci versus Harris on "scientism." 26. The importance of atheist movements incorporating more women and people of color. 27. Moral values in proper context. 28. Park space and its impact to children, interesting. 29. Incarceration rates and race. 30. Secular Humanism and the power to do good. In the African American community this will only be viable if it is culturally relevant. 31. The links worked great! Great references too. 32. One of the best Kindle values! Negatives: 1. The focus was on the African American atheist experience in Los Angeles so I wonder if that correlates to the rest of the country. I would assume so. 2. Graphs and illustrations never hurt to better illustrate points. 3. So many great books mentioned, a separate bibliography would have been welcomed. 4. Having to wait for Ms. Hutchinson's next book. In summary, this is an enlightening book. One of the main reasons I love to read it's because great authors like Ms. Hutchinson take me to a world that I admittedly know very little about and expose me to new and interesting perspectives. The author summarizes in one sentence many of the topics covered in this excellent book, "For many black atheist women, atheism's appeal lies in its deconstruction of the bankrupt more, values and ideologies that prop up patriarchy, sexism, heterosexism, racism, white supremacy, imperialism, and economic injustice." An important book, I highly recommend it! Recommendations: "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, "Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know About Our Biological Diversity by Guy P. Harrison, "Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism" by Susan Jacoby, "Doubt" by Jennifer Hecht, "American Fascists" by Chris Hedges, and "Man Made God: A Collection of Essays" by Barbara G. Walker.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jean Marie

    Sikivu, i always love your writings, loved reading this book. Powerful, well written, and thought provoking, as usual, Sikivu explores an extremely complex issue that does indeed, have a large impact on our communities and so few attempt exploring black religiousity, especially not with Hutchinson's brave unflinching, well researched style of enlightening us. there is indeed, a much a higher mountain for black, feminist atheists, yet, dispite the strong opposition they have to rise above/overcome Sikivu, i always love your writings, loved reading this book. Powerful, well written, and thought provoking, as usual, Sikivu explores an extremely complex issue that does indeed, have a large impact on our communities and so few attempt exploring black religiousity, especially not with Hutchinson's brave unflinching, well researched style of enlightening us. there is indeed, a much a higher mountain for black, feminist atheists, yet, dispite the strong opposition they have to rise above/overcome, their numbers *are* slowly slowly rising,--- there is reason to hope. And when their numbers are noticeably stronger, when they are even more a force, this will be yet another undeniable key to success for those communities. thank you for giving voice to those who are climbing this mountain, and for illuminating a fascinating, and complex topic.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Strode

    "A radical progressive humanism recognizes that hand-wringing about diversity—be it in education, corporate America or cultural movements—without challenging the power dynamics of access and visibility, makes white supremacy a self-fulfilling prophecy." ~ Sikivu Hutchinson After 10 years as the most prominent tool in my moral and intellectual arsenal, Ancient Future has been supplanted by the fierce effluence of ideas Sikivu Hutchinson has assembled in this manuscript. Moral Combat is easily the "A radical progressive humanism recognizes that hand-wringing about diversity—be it in education, corporate America or cultural movements—without challenging the power dynamics of access and visibility, makes white supremacy a self-fulfilling prophecy." ~ Sikivu Hutchinson After 10 years as the most prominent tool in my moral and intellectual arsenal, Ancient Future has been supplanted by the fierce effluence of ideas Sikivu Hutchinson has assembled in this manuscript. Moral Combat is easily the most extensive modern black humanist examination I have encountered as I discovered myself on this sojourn to disconnect from the spiritual yoke which held me bound in years past. A yoke that I thought essential to exist as an ethical being whose grip I pursued through Pentecostal, Rastafari, Islamic and the Black Liberation Theological construct finding no satisfaction. The sojourn eventually found me accepting solitude as the most perfect personal practice when group formations were given to paternalism and authoritarian instruction. In that solitude, I discovered that I was gradually more open to question all manner of ritual and tradition which gave rise to a rich skepticism. The skepticism began to pervade all areas of life until I had renewed my understanding of feminist tradition, black humanist social critique, and the history of power, race and privilege. All of these topics are investigated exceptionally by Hutchinson throughout Moral Combat. Sikivu Hutchinson, true to occupation, writes with a densely packed professorial tenor striving to make every word explode upon impact. Upon first read this can be off putting because in conjunction with the multitude of ideas covered, one occasionally struggles to keep up. But once you reach a reader's stride which occurred for me after the second chapter, you move into the space where you desire to mark a notation upon every page where language strikes a chord or spurs you toward action. As I found myself rounding the corner of chapter three, my head was dizzy from all of the various cross references that made themselves apparent in my recent reading schedule. As Hutchinson was remarking upon the government sponsored "white flight" and reinforcement of class divisions, I was meditating on Beryl Satter's "Family Properties" and pondering how those policies took root on the local level in Chicago creating the racially stratified city that now exists in the present day. When she invokes the notions of artificially earned white social mobility, I am reminded of Ira Katznelson's "When Affirmative Action Was White". Even her critique of the white atheist obsession with lambasting "religious identity" in the privileged pursuit of scientific aims caused me to recall that a generation of Black freethinkers were lost to a certain betrayal at the hands of Communism during the period of the New Negro Renaissance. In Moral Combat, Hutchinson provides not only a present day lesson on the most pertinent aspects of the American culture and values wars, but she also reaches deep into the historical context in order to extract an understanding of how the tree was grown from unmistakably deep roots. No person of interest is held sacred from her examination from the white atheist or feminist unaware of their own sense of privilege to the black woman complicit in her own religious subjugation to the black man whose interpretation of masculinity reinforces all of the worst patriarchal forms of an enslaved past. Hutchinson reminds in this text that a rich and enlightening skepticism requires not simply that we question religion or government, but that we question gender roles and privilege and power dynamics and leadership. She reminds us that a deep and moving humanism must overwhelm all of our previous notions about the world which were each and every one formed in a poisoned vacuum and now need to be rebuilt from the ground floor. So grab a hammer and smash that sacred cow to your left.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rational Thought

    I’m a member of a black atheist group based in central Florida (Black Nonbelievers of Metro Orlando). Our group was very fortunate to have Dr. Sikivu Hutchison participate in an illuminating, real-time discussion about her book Moral Combat. She answered many of our questions during the discussion, and she engaged us with thoughtful questions of her own. It doesn’t get much better than when you can have a book discussion with the author who wrote the book. As for the book itself, Moral Combat dee I’m a member of a black atheist group based in central Florida (Black Nonbelievers of Metro Orlando). Our group was very fortunate to have Dr. Sikivu Hutchison participate in an illuminating, real-time discussion about her book Moral Combat. She answered many of our questions during the discussion, and she engaged us with thoughtful questions of her own. It doesn’t get much better than when you can have a book discussion with the author who wrote the book. As for the book itself, Moral Combat deeply explores areas largely untouched by authors who make up the so-called New Atheist crowd. In her book, Hutchinson writes about the acute impact of religion on people of color in general and black Americans in particular, as well as what sets black atheists apart from their white counterparts. Working with an analysis that simultaneously employs multiple ways of looking at the social and cultural social forces that impact religion —race, socioeconomics , gender, heteronormativity, just to name a few of these forces—Hutchinson’s writing in Moral Combat tackles very fascinating topics. Some of these fascinating topics include the following: the plausible link between storefront churches and the lack of commercial investment black urban communities; how race and religion come together in the national political arena; how race and religion converge to the extent that they create or otherwise perpetuate ideas we have about black femininity; and the various unique challenges that black atheists and black secular humanists face in both the secular and religious worlds. Various other topics that connect with the themes spelled out by the book’s subtitles are examined as well. With titles that range from “In God We Trust: Whiteness and Public Morality” to “This Far by Faith? Race Traitors and Gender Apostates,” Moral Combat is a book of eight chapters, each the result of meticulous research. The book is very contemporary, largely focusing on developments of the twenty-first century. However, Hutchinson does make some occasional turns to moments in history in order to provide important historical insights. Although the book’s language made this reviewer think that Hutchinson’s target group of readers is an intellectual audience, several personal anecdotes are effectively incorporated within the book’s chapters; they are a very nice touch. Indeed, the book’s revelations about the author’s life as a mother, her life as a young girl, her life as a black feminist atheist, and Hutchinson’s experiences as a founder of a black skeptics organization provide a humanizing quality for material that can otherwise be abstract and esoteric. There are not many books comparable to Moral Combat. This is because Moral Combat is a breakthrough in the publishing industry: there are no other contemporary books on atheism like it available on a wide scale. With Moral Combat, Hutchinson has definitely made a much needed contribution.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Insightful and thought-provoking. This book was my introduction to reading non-fiction work on black communities and the topic of morality, religion, and gender issues. I would recommend this book for others who are just starting to learn about these topics; the subject material was enough to break the surface and point someone in the right direction on topics to learn more about.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Meen

    Brilliant, just brilliant. And oh so, necessary. Thank you for your vital work, Sikivu Hutchinson! Brilliant, just brilliant. And oh so, necessary. Thank you for your vital work, Sikivu Hutchinson!

  9. 5 out of 5

    April Pitts

    In her book, Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars (2011), I thought that Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson did a great job of examining the ways that black Christian churches have both shattered and reinforced existing racial, gender, and sexual stereotypes within African-American communities. I also appreciated her discussion of the current humanist/ New Atheist movement. For me, Dr. Hutchinson's argument that New Atheism's emphasis on scientism failed to take into account the In her book, Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars (2011), I thought that Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson did a great job of examining the ways that black Christian churches have both shattered and reinforced existing racial, gender, and sexual stereotypes within African-American communities. I also appreciated her discussion of the current humanist/ New Atheist movement. For me, Dr. Hutchinson's argument that New Atheism's emphasis on scientism failed to take into account the role that secular institutions have played in racist, sexist, and homophobic structures was one of the strongest sections of the book. To be an effective alternative to religion for black non-believers, I agree that secular institutions must also be culturally relevant. However, I thought that the book's overall argument about religion could have been strengthened in two areas: paragraph organization and the use of relevant secondary sources. In terms of organization, I thought that Hutchinson made many important points about the negative impact that religious fundamentalism has had on contemporary social justice initiatives. As organized, though, it was sometimes unclear what the main idea of a particular chapter was. So, when I finally reached the end of the book, I had to reread the last paragraph in the chapter to be sure. As worded, the conclusion seemed unfinished and abrupt. Finally, on relevant secondary sources, I thought that Dr. Hutchinson's overall argument could have been strengthened by including more recent scholarly sources on black feminist/womanist theory, the history of Christianity in Africa, and the development of Christianity among African-American slaves in the 18th century. For instance, the book's analysis of intersectionality and the development of Christianity in Africa and among African slaves seems written from a distinctly Western and Protestant perspective. It does not acknowledge existing critiques of intersectionality from transnational feminists. It also seems unaware of existing church scholarship on the development of Christianity within Africa before the transatlantic slave trade and the role that African evangelists and teachers have played in its development on the continent. Hutchinson's book also underestimates the degree that African-American believers from non-Protestant and non-Christian religious traditions have also been marked as racial "outsiders." Despite its weaknesses, I think that Sikivu Hutchinson's Moral Combat book offers an insightful examination of the challenges faced by black nonbelievers. I highly recommend it for people who are interested in learning more about the experiences of black nonbelievers and about creating welcoming, egalitarian, and culturally relevant secular institutions.

  10. 4 out of 5

    The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears

    I can attest to Hutchinson's premise about the dominance of churches in black and brown communities. The church featured on the cover of the book is on Western Avenue. Less than a block or two starts the city of Inglewood. This is the neighborhood I was born and raised in, and like Hutchinson understand the historical and cultural significance of the black church. This is a book that should be read by everyone, regardless of belief system. In spite of my emerging Christianity, Hutchinson writes p I can attest to Hutchinson's premise about the dominance of churches in black and brown communities. The church featured on the cover of the book is on Western Avenue. Less than a block or two starts the city of Inglewood. This is the neighborhood I was born and raised in, and like Hutchinson understand the historical and cultural significance of the black church. This is a book that should be read by everyone, regardless of belief system. In spite of my emerging Christianity, Hutchinson writes passionately about the problems the black church still has with reinforcing oppressive systems, especially in how it deals with its primary source of strength (and financial support) black women. She also deals with issues of homophobia and greed that also plague our churches. This book really stands out in light of the new reality series "Real Preachers of L.A." So, am I going to turn into a bible-bashing atheist? Nah. But Sikivu Hutchinson asks the tough questions that we as believers need to be asking. We need to ask why rigid gender roles are still enforced, why a church that supposedly has love at its foundation is so full of hate for our GLBTQ brothers and sisters. We need to ask why the message of love and acceptance and social justice has been hijacked by the racists on the right. Black people should be up in arms at Glenn Beck's stealing of MLK's words and beliefs. As Black Christians, we need to ask if our people are being well-served by the clergy. We need to challenge leadership roles in the churches and stop pastors behaving badly. Seriously, is there any reason for megachurches right smack in the middle of some of the most economically depressed communities, including the Taj Mahoney in Downtown L.A.? There is one fact that Black Christians have never quite reconciled themselves to, and that is, our conversion to Christianity was forced upon us by a system that needed religious sanction for dehumanization. Ironically, we've far surpassed whites when it comes to church attendance and belief and yet black people are still marginalized and erased. I believe we can claim the mantle of faith, but we must change it, and that means questioning those aspects that are unhealthy. Hutchinson's criticisms for the most part are right on point, though she like those in the church, ignore the many examples of women operating under their own agency in the Bible, as well as early church traditions of women leading congregations, but she is not the first to challenge a male-dominated black church on its sexism. Several years ago, the internet lit up after a blog post that insisted the Black Church was invested in keeping black women single and/or "married to Jesus" until a "Good Black Man" came into their lives. The post asserted that Black women were loathe to seek partners outside of the race because of church reinforcement. There is also the problem of domestic violence, something that negatively impacts WoC more. Prophetess Juanita Bynum went public with her abuse and for that, ended up ostracized by the church (many of the congregants were black women) who castigated her for "airing dirty laundry" and "trying to bring a black man down". That his status and material possessions were more important than her safety is maddening in the extreme. One of the important points she brings to the table is this notion of a monolithic blackness, something I consistently rail against: "If mainstream African American notions of black identity are defined by a degree of essentialism, then religious identity is a key element. Alternative belief systems are viewed with suspicion because they are 'inconsistent' with authentic black identity." This notion of essentialism is not just limited to religion, but infects every aspect of black life, as I can attest to. Interestingly enough, while Tina Turner is held up by many black women as an example of the strong black woman who emerged victorious from a cycle of abuse, these same women give her the side-eye for becoming a Buddhist. There are Wiccans, those who practice African spirituality, and of course agnostic and atheist black people, but many feel constrained by cultural expectations or fear rejection. "The age-old association of religiosity with morality is particularly ironclad in African American communities. Because religiosity is evidence of "authentic" blackness, it is difficult for black non-theists to publicly criticize the Black Church's special trifecta of religious dogma, greed and hubris." Sikivu Hutchinson doesn't let her fellow white (and predominantly male) non-theists off the hook either. She goes after their smug, self-congratulatory attitudes towards race and gender: "Yet for some reason many white atheist humanists believe that being atheist magically exempts them from the institutionally racist belief systems and practices of the dominant culture." For those atheists who worship at the altar of science, she reminds them about the scientific racism of the 19th and 20th centuries (some of which has made a resurgence with such "books" as The Bell Curve, and the policy paper written by a former fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation that asserted immigrant Latinos would never achieve intellectual parity with whites for generations. She takes them to task for their marginalizing the voices of women and PoC. Sure these same issues of sexism, homophobia, greed and worshiping pastors doesn't just exist in Black churches, and while Hutchinson makes mention of the Catholic Church and fundamentalists like Chuck Colson, her emphasis is upon a tradition she feels is negatively impacting our community. Granted, there are churches who do social justice work, churches in which there are women pastors, and churches which fully embraces the GLBT community, but they are the exception and not the rule. So no, I will not turn into an atheist, but it's always good for the soul to shed excess baggage. The Black Church has a place in our lives, but it needs to discover what that purpose is. There needs to be radical reform of the institution. Dismissing the justifiable critiques of the church because the author is a humanist is short-sighted.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    She draws together some of the most important ideas of this century: gender politics, racism, the moral imperative of humanistic atheism and complex thought about the function and disfunction of religion, particularly in Black communities. I have become disillusioned with many white, male atheist writers because their fixation on their rightness has made their anti-religion virtually a religion itself. Hutchinson takes on these self-righteous (and often racist and sexist) writers with a clear mi She draws together some of the most important ideas of this century: gender politics, racism, the moral imperative of humanistic atheism and complex thought about the function and disfunction of religion, particularly in Black communities. I have become disillusioned with many white, male atheist writers because their fixation on their rightness has made their anti-religion virtually a religion itself. Hutchinson takes on these self-righteous (and often racist and sexist) writers with a clear mind and sensitive heart. I recommend this book to everyone, particularly feminists who care about a complete analysis of the oppression of women.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Bradt

    Hutchinson has a lot to say about the black atheist community in the USA. Kudos, Sikivu!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ikonoklast

    I don't know where to begin, but this book is PHENONMIAL!!! It doesn’t miss a beat at all! Sikivu, for one, you are damn good writer! Having read The God Delusion, I must say it had the tendency to get very dry, but not Moral Combat. It’s filled with a dialectical analysis of why it is people of color are so religious. I think the thing I really enjoyed about the book is that explored how it is most people of color come to being an atheist in the first place, COLONIAL EXPLOTATION! I mean really, I don't know where to begin, but this book is PHENONMIAL!!! It doesn’t miss a beat at all! Sikivu, for one, you are damn good writer! Having read The God Delusion, I must say it had the tendency to get very dry, but not Moral Combat. It’s filled with a dialectical analysis of why it is people of color are so religious. I think the thing I really enjoyed about the book is that explored how it is most people of color come to being an atheist in the first place, COLONIAL EXPLOTATION! I mean really, honestly, the scientific aspect being a major factor for me becoming an atheist, wasn’t really in my purview as much as the exploitation we suffer around the world being Western colonial subjects (the paradigmatic positioning of the African as being the “The Other”. We are nonbeings; we are the object that civil society points to so that they can know that they are alive. Our suffering being placed outside the confines of humanity is key to the existence of civil society; we are a fungible commodity to be used at will). Another issue I am so glad you brought to light is the fact that we as African people in America (and abroad), aren’t “real Black people” if we are atheist, as if we are some type of alternative Negroes. You blow that myth right out of the water! I find the gender analysis amazing as well, as a male I must admit more blind spot in respect to why it is women of color are so hyper-religious ( I love to learn and you have taught me well. I thank you for clearing up my blind spot on this fundamental fact). Being that I am an atheist and a socialist, this book is an invaluable tool for politically educating people of color. Basically, Sikivu you have done what we as Africans and all people of color need to do with all Western political and social thought (in terms of how white atheist think that merely subscribing to rational thought means it is impossible for them to be racist.); that is acknowledge the contributions that Western thought has brought to the world (Marxism…etcetera), but we also need to expose its objective blind spots of eliminating people of color (colonized people) from its purview, and then take this extended analysis into the world to eradicate suffering of all people. Western thought isn’t universal thought; it was/is developed within a culture (colonial) context. For example, if Western workers want to eliminate worker exploitation, then they need to look at the fulcrum from which their exploitation exists (i.e. raw materials from former colonial nations-the exploitation of The Third World and its people around the world). I will defiantly be doing a write up of this book within the end of this month or beginning of next month on my website www.peopleofcolororaganize.com Everyone look for Sikivu’s writings on www.blackagendareport.com (that’s how I found out about her). Thank you, thank you, Sikivu! It’s hard at out here for a socialist-internationalist-atheist-brother in the Bible Belt South, and your book is a breath of fresh air in the religious cesspool of blind-faith and the fetishism of patriarchy which I must endure on a daily basis. You are a brilliant and brave person! PLEASE KEEP DOING WHAT YOU DO!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alyson Miers

    Coming to the end of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics and the Values Wars by Sikivu Hutchinson, I am forcibly reminded of PZ Myers’s endorsement of The Greatest Show On Earth, by Richard Dawkins. There are no more excuses. None. Perhaps it’s a bad sign that I can’t think of a better comparison than a recent biology-focused tome by Prof. Dawkins, but bear with me a few minutes. While Prof. Dawkins chose an ambitious but uncomplicated project of establishing in layman-friendly term Coming to the end of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics and the Values Wars by Sikivu Hutchinson, I am forcibly reminded of PZ Myers’s endorsement of The Greatest Show On Earth, by Richard Dawkins. There are no more excuses. None. Perhaps it’s a bad sign that I can’t think of a better comparison than a recent biology-focused tome by Prof. Dawkins, but bear with me a few minutes. While Prof. Dawkins chose an ambitious but uncomplicated project of establishing in layman-friendly terms the reality of Darwinian natural selection, Dr. Hutchinson’s book takes place at a very different degree of sociological difficulty. She places herself between the black church, the larger white-supremacist and patriarchal society, and the developing atheist movement, and she schools them all. There are few people left uncriticized by her scholarship, only some largely invisible and unheard slivers of society left uninstructed to unpack some invisible baggage. When it is finished, there are no more excuses. None. There should be no more hand-waving away the need for a wider range of voices in the freethinking movement, no more man-splaining and white-splaining about what issues should “really” be the focus of skepticism and atheism, and no more clueless hand-wringing over why there aren’t more women or more people of color involved in outspoken atheism. There are no more excuses for failure to comprehend these concerns, no more assuming that skepticism begins with the Big Bang and ends with Bigfoot. Outside of the New Atheism, there should be no more telling the godless that for the sake of harmony we should simply stop being so noisy about our non-belief. There should be no more pointing to disadvantaged groups’ reliance on religion as evidence of its veracity. There should be no more attempts to silence atheism with the presupposition that religion maintains a more ethical, just and civil society regardless of its explanatory power. These are the questions that live at the intersection of sexism, racism, economic injustice and religion in America, and if you just sit down for a while and prepare yourself to unlearn some party lines, Dr. Hutchinson will make everything clear. There will be some ideas expressed in her book with which you disagree, and some connections explored with which you were previously unfamiliar, and that is only more reason to become acquainted with these concerns. Fear not the expanse of an overly ambitious tome, for Dr. Hutchinson’s writing covers an astonishing breadth and depth of research and insight in a remarkably modest word count. There is no more need for multi-megabyte Internet explosions of privileged obliviousness over godless demographic issues. Here are the answers to your questions.

  15. 5 out of 5

    J.P.

    My only regret is that I hadn't read this book sooner. This book provides much needed context & clarity on the experience of African American men & women who identify as atheists & humanists. The socioeconomic issues that the African American community face are stressed & how churches in the African American Community fill a void left by a society that deems people of color as other & unworthy. The church's role in the community throughout history from slavery to the Civil Rights Era and beyond My only regret is that I hadn't read this book sooner. This book provides much needed context & clarity on the experience of African American men & women who identify as atheists & humanists. The socioeconomic issues that the African American community face are stressed & how churches in the African American Community fill a void left by a society that deems people of color as other & unworthy. The church's role in the community throughout history from slavery to the Civil Rights Era and beyond is made clear. Sikivu breaks down how churches in African American communities alliance with "traditional values" typically attributed to the Conservative Religious Right stifle efforts for advancement & uplift in the community. The politics of gender norms, gender identity, sexuality, patriarchy are given due criticism as to how they affect the community negatively. She also points to how the lack of visibility of the Humanist Community due to their focus on scientific literacy & separation of church & state without any due recognition to social & systemic racism & class issues leaves many without options even if they do want to escape the tyranny of religious thought. There is a call to the Skeptical Community, if they genuinely want to diversify their ranks, to legitimately challenge the issues that affect all communities negatively. This is a great book if you want to gain a perspective on the what the African American Humanist or atheist may be like. I gained a better perspective from having read this book. The latter half of the book (the last 4 chapters)more so because I'm no longer new to the freethought community & these chapters tend focus on issues that might resonate more with those familiar with the challenge of tackling the issues in communities outside of white middle & upper class people & making sure it gets it's due attention & help. I recommend it to those in the freethought community, whether your arrival to atheism is recent or not as well as anyone who may be questioning their faith & needs some clarity on the issues they are grappling with as an African American questioning religion. Again, my only regret is that I didn't read this sooner. Great read!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gatsbys OK

    Well-researched critique of how a growing number of African American atheists are resisting the social pressures of the community for unquestioned membership to the Black Church and to blindly adhere to Christian doctrine as it is taught by leaders now alligned with the politics of the Christian Right. Hutchinson examines the contadictions of the Church's male leaders ignoring important economic issues facing the Black community -- jobs, education, and the mortgage crisis -- for the social agend Well-researched critique of how a growing number of African American atheists are resisting the social pressures of the community for unquestioned membership to the Black Church and to blindly adhere to Christian doctrine as it is taught by leaders now alligned with the politics of the Christian Right. Hutchinson examines the contadictions of the Church's male leaders ignoring important economic issues facing the Black community -- jobs, education, and the mortgage crisis -- for the social agenda of the Righteous Right. The book contains an excellent historical analysis of how the freethought/humanism of numerous Black intellectuals from the 19th and 20th centuries is overlooked by comtemporary African American leaders and church members. The book is an useful resource for white and Black readers interested in learning about the growing debate about the legitmacy of Christianity and all religions in the 21st Century. Suggest you arm yourself with this book for the Moral Combat ahead as more and more people debate the impact of all religious thought upon the growing conflicts in the world today.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Destiny

    I found this author through my reading of the blog Gradient Lair. After reading the Ebony Exodus project, I wanted to read more about atheism and non-believers in the African American community. I enjoyed my reading of this and a testament to that fact is that I finished it in one day. Normally that's not a cause for celebration but lately I've fallen off track. I liked the early chapters of the books because it focused on black women. That's just my personal preference but the later chapters we I found this author through my reading of the blog Gradient Lair. After reading the Ebony Exodus project, I wanted to read more about atheism and non-believers in the African American community. I enjoyed my reading of this and a testament to that fact is that I finished it in one day. Normally that's not a cause for celebration but lately I've fallen off track. I liked the early chapters of the books because it focused on black women. That's just my personal preference but the later chapters were good as well but it veered from religiousness in the AA community more towards the religious right. But she does connect it to the racism that accompanies it so I understand that choice. I'm looking forward to reading Godless Americana and checking out some of the people, books, and originations mentioned in the text.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Wonderful book that opens with a steep dive into the origins of the intersections of religion and racial identity in America--and yes this is just the opening. A fascinating and careful analysis between the intra-cultural dynamics of various African-American communities and the "never quite right" depictions of them in mainstream media. Aside from being a sharply critical and informative read, Hutchinson's Moral Combat, is also vivid and beautifully written book. I literally felt as if I was co- Wonderful book that opens with a steep dive into the origins of the intersections of religion and racial identity in America--and yes this is just the opening. A fascinating and careful analysis between the intra-cultural dynamics of various African-American communities and the "never quite right" depictions of them in mainstream media. Aside from being a sharply critical and informative read, Hutchinson's Moral Combat, is also vivid and beautifully written book. I literally felt as if I was co-witnessing the places and events Hutchinson describes in her passages. Easily my favorite book of the year.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Some very important points in here, but the presentation of them wasn't all that I'd hoped. Some very important points in here, but the presentation of them wasn't all that I'd hoped.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Brewster

  21. 5 out of 5

    DanTresOmi

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  24. 4 out of 5

    trudy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nic

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sincere Kirabo

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kate Donovan

  28. 4 out of 5

    M

  29. 4 out of 5

    Keana

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rachel72

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