The Ebony Exodus Project

by | Sep 26, 2023

Candace Gorham’s The Ebony Exodus Project is one of BHNBS’s favorite books. It’s a collection of ethnographic stories of Black women who left the church and religion. The stories include drama, introspection, humor, and critical thinking. Ms. Gorham, a licensed professional counselor, allows the women to speak for themselves. Then, she provides valuable and insightful critical analysis of the roles of religion, self-esteem, cognitive dissonance, and much more.

The first interview is a powerful, funny, and sad story of a young woman named Bria, who grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness. She leaves the church at 17 and starts questioning the religious beliefs she was taught. How Bria tells her story is so poignant, frank, and powerful. She says, “Eventually I went from being straight for Jesus to being who I am. I didn’t need to be reborn. I was born right the first time. I’m a lesbian. I always have been.” She said she started “questioning everything”.

“I read the Bible. I started at Genesis and I was sick. I was sick at what I read. First, I stopped praying for people even though they still called me for prayer….I will not serve a god that is this crazy.”

Bria’s story made us laugh several times because she is so upfront and insightful without being bookish or academically intellectual. However, she is indeed intelligent—without all the traditional educational training. Her story is undoubtedly sad because her family abandons her, her mother is an alcoholic, and she has two children to support.

But her and the other women’s stories are good examples of why the Black church and religion end up being more harmful to the Black community than a solution.

It doesn’t seem like Gorham writes a lot about the impact of racism, economic oppression, and police brutality (as Sikivu Hutchinson does in Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels) that impacts the Black community, but the personal stories she shares are so important to be read.

The Ebony Exodus Project is the top of our list of atheist books.

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