Most Black Americans identify as Christian and are highly religious by traditional measures of belief. According to Pew Research, Black Americans remain more religious than other groups and more likely than the average American to stay in the religious tradition they were raised in.
As a result, some predicted that young Black adults would resist the moves away from faith seen among white millennials. But Black “nones” are growing. Over the last decade, the share of Black Americans who say that they have no religious affiliation has risen more dramatically than whites, Hispanics, or Asians.
To reach the growing number of Black nonreligious youth, the SSA staff initiated an extensive outreach campaign directly contacting nearly 80,000 students at public Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the county. Reaching religious and nonreligious students, the campaign intentionally focused on increasing the awareness of the growing number of nonreligious Black students and normalizing nonreligion in the Black community.
The SSA staff is diligently working with students at Alabama A&M, Albany State University, Coppin State University, Fayetteville State University, Howard University, Morgan State University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Texas Southern University to start student chapters.
Starting SSA chapters will not be easy, but trying to build a nonreligious community on campus is crucial. Due to the prominence of religion, Black nonreligious people can feel especially isolated or misunderstood within Black communities. According to the US Secular Survey, Black participants were 42% more likely to always conceal their nonreligious beliefs. Being a member of a secular group has significant protective effects against adverse mental health, including loneliness and risk of depression.
Supporting students in highly religious communities is imperative, but arduous, work. You can help nonreligious Black students by making a donation to the Secular Student Alliance today at secularstudents.org/donate.
Thank you to the Stiefel Freethought Foundation for supporting the outreach initiative to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.