Have you ever noticed the inordinate number of African-American males who aspire to be ordained ministers? Perhaps the influence and power which African-American preachers have in the Black community, and the acceptance they seem to gain in "White" society, has something to do with this. Also, although African-Americans have historically voted with liberal Democrats, their churches tend to be very conservative, socially, similar to fundamentalist Christians, (Tea Party) Republicans, and the Christian Right.
A secular friend posed this excellent question. Why so few African-American atheists?
We're hoping that a African-American atheist can provide an insightful reply. But, thoughtful analysis and comments from all are welcome. This is a phenomenon which warrants a lot of thought. Might the African-American church be the last bastion of Christianity in the U.S.?
The trend among black Americans is toward greater levels of nonbelief. The number of blacks reporting no religion in American Religious Identification Survey almost doubled between 1990 and 2008.
In the South, this trend is witnessed by the emergence of groups such as the Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta (BNOA), and the Humanist Congregation of Greater Atlanta.
Unlike other parts of the South where activities by black atheists remain online, Atlanta appears to be spearheading the momentum with the creation of nonbeliever organizations such as the Humanist Congregation of Greater Atlanta, which allow a previously marginalized minority a voice and a community that goes beyond anonymous avatars.
The church is a very prominent focus in black society. As far as they're concerned (or so I've read), being gay or atheist is a "white man's evil". That's why so many gay and/or atheist black people hesitate to come out.