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


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“I was one of the first to buy Hutchinson’s new book, and after reading it, we interviewed her on Freethought Radio. It is a wonderful book! Well, if I can use the word “wonderful” to describe a sometimes disturbing deep-and-wide look at how religion (especially Christianity) has harmed the African-American community, as well as a look at how to rise above such harm.

 

Sikivu is an amazing scholar and writer, with the courage to “betray her culture” (as some would see it) by renouncing the religion that gives so much comfort and identity to so many people. But she does it with grace, inviting readers to escape dogmatic dependency and embrace reason, science, and humanistic morality.

And she challenged me, one of the “leaders” in the freethought community (although every freethinker is a leader), to be more sensitive to the concerns of minorities. (I am a “minority” myself, as a member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, but you can barely tell by looking. And although my tribe suffered tremendous upheaval, discrimination and persecution by the European Christian invaders, my current life is not affected to the same degree that the lives of the descendants of African-American slaves are still being affected.) Reading Hutchinson, I realize we need to be more concerned with the socio-economic issues with which people are struggling, not just the intellectual and state-church issues.

 

When I bought Moral Combat, I was expecting a nice treatise by a nice humanist woman, and I got that — but so much more! Hutchinson is truly a scholar, well-read, portraying the broad historical and social landscape, illustrated with up-close tales of store-front churches and brave activism.”

 

Dan Barker
Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation
Co-host of Freethought Radio
Author of Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists

 

“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.”

 

Rational Thought, Black Nonbelievers of Metro Orlando

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