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The Black Practice of Disbelief

The Black Practice of Disbelief

An Introduction to the Principles, History, and Communities of Black Nonbelievers

Anthony B. Pinn
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A short introduction to Black Humanism: its history, its present, and the rich cultural sensibilities that infuse it.

In the United States, to be a Black American is to be a Black Christian. And there's something to this assumption in that the vast majority of African Americans are Christian. However, in recent years a growing number of African Americans have said they claim no particular religious affiliation--they are Black "nones." And of these Black "nones," the most public and vocal are those who claim to be humanists.

What does it mean to be a Black humanist? What do Black humanist believe, and what do they do? This slim volume answers these questions. Animated by six central principles, and discussed in terms of its history, practices, formations, and community rituals, this book argues that Black humanism can be understood as a religious movement. Pinn makes a distinction between theism and religion--which is simply a tool for examining, naming, and finding the meaning in human experience. Black humanism, based on this definition isn't theistic but it is a religious system used to explore human experience and foster life meaning. It infuses humanism with rich cultural sensibilities drawn from Black experience. As shown in these pages, thinking about Black humanism this way frees readers from making unfounded assumptions and enables them to better appreciate the secular "beliefs," ritual structures, and community formation constituted by Black humanists.


Anthony B. Pinn is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Distinguished Professor of Humanities and professor of religion at Rice University. He is also the founding director of Rice's Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning. Pinn is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Professor Extraordinarius at the University of South Africa. In addition, he is Director of Research for the Institute for Humanist Studies. Pinn is the author/editor of numerous books, including Interplay of Things: Religion, Art, and Presence Together (2021).


  • Publisher: Beacon Press
  • Publish Date: May 21, 2024
  • Pages: 160
  • Dimensions: 7.0 X 5.0 inches | 1.25 pounds
  • Language: English
  • Type: Hardcover
  • EAN/UPC: 9780807045220
  • BISAC Categories: Movements - Humanism, Christian Theology - Liberation, Ethnic Studies - African American Studies


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