01: Because blacks register a low level of atheism, in February, African Americans for Humanism (AAH) launched an advertising campaign showcasing religious skepticism in the black community. The campaign targets six U.S. cities (New York City; Washington, DC; Los Angeles; Chicago; Atlanta; Durham, North Carolina; and Dallas), using the slogan “Doubts about religion? You’re one of many.”
AAH activists are aware that “African Americans may be the nation’s most religious minority,” where “believing seems as natural as breathing,” acknowledges a young atheist from a Seventh-‐Day Adventist family in the Bronx. Turning away from God is oten understood as “acting white” and leaves African-‐American atheists out of important aspects of social life centering around churches. Still, the non-‐believing minority is reported to be growing, although it represents probably no more than half a percent of all African Americans. What is new is the willingness to express doubts and unbelief openly.
Internet resources have also helped atheists to connect. From three local groups in the entire country two years ago, AAH has now grown to 15. As could be expected, most reactions are not very warm. AAH has set realistic goals at this stage: “We want only to make know that there is an alternative to church and that every doubter is welcome,” explains AAH leader Debbie Goddard.
(Source: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, March 15; AAH, www.aahumanism.net)
02: Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is the ﬁrst Muslim woman to be a cabinet minister in Great Britain as well as among the few Muslim voices arguing for the importance of Christianity in Europe.
She is also co-chair of the Conservative (or Tory) Party, which may help explain her less secularist orientation than many European politicians. Warsi recently led a British ministerial delegation to the Vatican, where she addressed a prestigious Catholic institution and agreed with Pope Benedict XVI about the importance of religion in public discourse and echoed his opposition to the growth of militant secularism in Europe.
In a subsequent interview, she added that “Europe would not try to erase the church spires on our horizons; then why would you try to erase our religious history or the role of Christianity in the development of values in our nations? Europe needs to be more in tune with its Christian identity.” Before the Vatican visit, Warsi, whose parents are from Pakistan, caught media attention by entitling one of her addresses “This Government Does God.”
She was referencing a statement Tony Blair’s press secretary had made in reference to the Labour Party, “We don’t do God here.” She was saying that David Cameron’s Conservative Party had a more aﬃrmative view of religion’s role in public.
(Source: The Tablet, February 18).