Atheist Monument Critique: Madalyn Murray O’Hair

I recently summarized the conflagration caused by an atheist monument on public property in Starke, Florida. It was recently installed in response to a six-ton Ten Commandments monument on the same property. Only after protest did the county on whose land it sat allow monuments with other viewpoints.

The article critical of the new monument, which I analyzed last time, critiques the text written on its four sides. Let’s take a look at the criticism. On the front side of the monument is this:

An atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church.
An atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of prayer said.
An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death.
He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated.

This is by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, founder of American Atheists. It is part of her opening statement before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case that concluded in 1963 that Bible reading in public school was unconstitutional.

It’s pretty powerful stuff, though Benjamin Wiker, the author of the article, isn’t impressed.

The problem with this well-known quote is—to be blunt—that it displays to everyone … the total ignorance of O’Hair. Ignorance embedded in granite for all to see.

Hospitals vs. churches

Take that first line about hospitals. Wiker says, “The truth is that if there had not been churches, there would never have been hospitals.”

Never? Nonsense. But let me emphasize that to the extent that Christianity built churches for altruistic (rather than marketing) reasons, that’s terrific. Good works by the church says nothing about the truth of the supernatural beliefs on which it is built or problems caused by the church, of course, but I’m happy to acknowledge any social good that happened due to those beliefs.

Nevertheless, the history of Christianity and science is, at best, checkered. Modern understanding and treatment of disease is in spite of, not because of, the work of the church. For example, a president of Yale University rejected smallpox vaccination because it interfered with God’s design. The same could be said of any medical treatment—if God didn’t want that person to have a broken leg or yellow fever or an infection, he wouldn’t have caused it to happen. Even today, various Christian denominations stand in the way of in vitro fertilization and some kinds of stem cell research.

Back to Wiker celebrating how Christians want to do good for other people. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick—that’s terrific stuff. I imagine then that he’d be delighted if society at large realized this and took care of its least fortunate.

(Oops—no, it looks like his organization hates federally funded health care.)

Deeds vs. prayers

On to the second line, “An atheist believes that deed must be done instead of prayer said.” Wiker says that the Christian wants the prayer said and the deed done. He points to the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt. 25:31–46), in which Jesus makes clear that only those who do good works will enter the Kingdom of God.

Yes, let’s look at this parable. Nothing is said about faith. You get into heaven by caring for others. That’s it. I like that attitude, though doesn’t this undercut the Protestant position?

This reminds me of an insight from Julia Sweeney. She said that as a serious Christian, she took disasters in distant countries seriously. And she did something about it: she prayed.

Only after she became an atheist did she realize that this notion of “doing something” was, at best, mental masturbation. It only diffused any desire to actually do something to help those people (educate her neighbors about the problem, write a check, and so on). If homes are to be rebuilt or people vaccinated, people must actually get off the couch and do something real, something in this world. By giving yourself a pat on the head for a job well done, prayer is actually harmful.

Life vs. death

The third line says, “An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death.” Wiker went off on a tangent about euthanasia, which I think is a misunderstanding. My interpretation of the line is that we know we have one life, the one here on earth. Let’s participate energetically and enthusiastically in this life rather than yearn without evidence for an eternity in an imaginary paradise.

Social evils

And the final line: “[The atheist] wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated.” Wiker bristles at the idea that a Christian wouldn’t have the same goals.

Where Christianity has been an asset, again I celebrate that, but it hasn’t always been an altruistic force for good.

Before an atheist can point to religious wars, he’s quick to point to 20th-century atheists who were behind the deaths of millions. The problem is, of course, that the atheism wasn’t behind any of the deaths (more here).

Wiker said that this brief quote “displays to everyone … the total ignorance of [Madalyn Murray] O’Hair.” In fact, O’Hair’s words have much of the permanence of the stone in which they were carved. Wiker’s whining is as effective as a rainstorm at erasing them.

Continue: Atheist Monument Critique: Treaty of Tripoi

If this is going to be a Christian nation
that doesn’t help the poor,
either we have to pretend that Jesus
was just as selfish as we are,
or we’ve got to acknowledge
that he commanded us to love the poor
and serve the needy without condition
and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.
— Stephen Colbert

Photo credit: Wikipedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Rick


    A couple of questions come to mind.

    1) You’ve previously disavowed any interest in what historic evolutionists including Darwin might have had doubts about, etc. You also disavowed Dawkins when he said things embarrassing to your side. (Directed pan-spermia comes to mind). So why do you refer to a Yale College president as being opposed to medical protocol when he died in 1817, over 40 years before Darwin’s opus magnus was published? Kind of inconsistent, it seems. (BTW, it was Yale College until 1887, then became Yale University. Kind of confusing, because in 1887, Timothy Dwight V was the college, then university president, but your citation is to Timothy Dwight IV, who was skeptical of vaccinations during his tenure, and he died in 1817. I suspect lots of people were skeptical of vaccinations back then. Any historic evidence to show who else was opposed to vaccines around 1800?)

    2) You say you don’t like the emphasis on Christian motivation behind hospitals. Fine. What are the statistics for hospitals founded by atheists versus hospitals founded by Christians? How about orphanages? International relief and medical missions?

    3) Your deeds versus prayer point is reasonable. I believe in both. I also believe more Christians on average participate in charitable use of time than atheists, who spend more time talking a good game than acting on it. Overall, volunteerism is
    , according to government statistics, but they don’t break down who volunteers. Several sites validate the contention that religiously motivated adults volunteer at a higher rate than other demographic sectors, from what I can tell. Show me otherwise. Do you have statistics challenging my understanding here?

    • smrnda

      I thought that, as a person who volunteers a lot (as well as an atheist) I’d weigh in on volunteering. (I’ve done prison literacy programs and I currently teach kids how to program computers.)

      Right now, I have a hard time finding any good statistics on volunteering since ‘volunteering’ can cover a wide range of activities – if you have any good sources I’d be interested to check them out. (One explanation I’ve heard is that volunteering is up because, owing to a slow economy, cash donations are down and people volunteer instead, so that the shift might just be from money to time. )

      My concern is that if a local church decided to volunteer and cook and distribute food, that would could as volunteering and I’d agree that it’s socially beneficial work, but if the local group of People Who Worship Thor had (hypothetically) a pro-Thor talk and barbeque, they’d probably be able to report all their time preparing, promoting and cooking as volunteering, but that would seem just like a social club counting their club activities as ‘volunteering.’ (No offense intended towards any actual worshipers of Thor, I was just looking for an example.) If I saw stats on who was volunteering, I’d like them to be somehow differentiated in terms of type of volunteering.

      There’s also an issue that I’m not sure all volunteer organizations supply effective aid.

      • Rick

        My guess is that the organization benefiting from the volunteer hours keeps track of the source of the volunteers. So the pro-Thor group and the atheists would be accounted by the prison in the instance of the place you volunteer. I could be wrong on where the statistics come from, of course.

        Thanks for volunteering. Sounds like a worthy cause.

        • smrnda

          I just realized I don’t even have much of an idea of how my own volunteer hours are documented. The school keeps track of when I’m there, and for the prison literacy program we occasionally sign papers for people there who need their time documented – we get a lot of students who are part of organizations like fraternities or sororities who require members to have a certain number of volunteer hours, but I feel bad admitting I have no idea what we do with our own figures on volunteer hours. (I’m usually more worried about our stock of books or funds.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You’ve previously disavowed any interest in what historic evolutionists including Darwin might have had doubts about, etc.

      Right. Who cares?

      You also disavowed Dawkins when he said things embarrassing to your side. (Directed
      pan-spermia comes to mind).

      I might’ve, but this isn’t an example. Maybe life on earth did come from another planet, either intentionally or not. Show me something embarrassing.

      So why do you refer to a Yale College president as being opposed to medical protocol when he died in 1817, over 40 years before Darwin’s opus magnus was published?

      Because the topic is history (the history of the church vs. science). Yes, history did occur in our lifetimes, but there was much more long ago, like before 1817.

      What are the statistics for hospitals founded by atheists versus hospitals founded by Christians? How about orphanages? International relief and medical missions?

      Those are the wrong questions. You should be looking for the number of organizations founded by different populations compared to the relative size of that population. If a population is 80% atheists and 5% Christian, it wouldn’t be surprising if there were more atheist-founded hospitals or orphanages than Christian.

      But a further complicating factor is that atheists often want to see society provide these services for society. Society creates its own schools; why shouldn’t it create the hospitals and relief organizations. Why should we expect the Christians to do all the heavy lifting? We’re all in this together. These organizations by rights should come from society as a whole.

      Do you have statistics challenging my understanding here?

      I looked around and found a few things, but they’re peripheral to your question.

      Bill Donohue said, “They talk a good game—liberals are always screaming about the horrors of poverty—but in the end they find it difficult to open their wallets.” The study he was excited about made clear that he was hilariously wrong. I wrote more here.

      “Atheists and agnostics are more driven by compassion to help others than are highly religious people, a new study finds” here).

      The Applebees incident has brought up many anecdotes about how cheap post-church folks are.

      But as for volunteering, no I don’t have statistics on that either way.

      • wtfwjtd

        “There is little doubt that the “nones” and liberals (there is a lot of overlap) are living off the social capital of the most religious persons in the nation. Perhaps there is some way this can be reflected in the tax code.”–Bill Donohoe

        I’ve got news for you Bill–taxpayers like me ARE propping up your establishments of organized religion with our tax dollars, whether we want to or not. To flatly state that the “nones” and “liberals” are mooching off of the piously religious is at best laughable on its face, and at worst a deliberate, vile lie. Sheesh, what’s next, trying to deny the poor basic medical treatment, so fatcat CEO’s can secure yet another fat bonus check? Oh wait…I forgot, Jesus was really a corporatist….

    • Philmonomer

      I also believe more Christians on average participate in charitable use of time than atheists, who spend more time talking a good game than acting on it. Overall, volunteerism is up,
      according to government statistics, but they don’t break down who
      volunteers. Several sites validate the contention that religiously
      motivated adults volunteer at a higher rate than other demographic
      sectors, from what I can tell. Show me otherwise. Do you have statistics
      challenging my understanding here?

      This podcast does a pretty good take down of the whole idea that “religious people are better than secular people” at volunteering/charitable contributions/socially worthy goals:


  • KarlUdy

    The third line says, “An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death.” Wiker went off on a tangent about euthanasia, which I think is a misunderstanding.

    I think you’re really stretching things to say that euthanasia is tangential to this line. Although I do agree that it was probably not O’Hair’s intention as euthanasia was not really much of an issue when she was alive.

    Although it does raise the issue of how O’Hair’s statement is a complete misrepresentation of at least Christianity, if not religion in general (and the point must be made that O’Hair would have been mainly thinking about Christianity). When one remembers the Christian contribution to hospital building, aid and relief, and the fight against disease, poverty and war then to describe atheists as being involved in those things as opposed to non-atheists is inaccurate to the point of being deceptive.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      When one remembers the Christian contribution to hospital building, aid and relief, and the fight against disease, poverty and war then to describe atheists as being involved in those things as opposed to non-atheists is inaccurate to the point of being deceptive.

      Sure, Christians sometimes focus on good things. I celebrated that in the post. But O’Hair’s point is the contrast. Say that Christians build churches and hospitals if you want; atheists focus on just the hospital. And just the deed—forget the prayers. And so on.

      • KarlUdy

        Say that Christians build churches and hospitals if you want; atheists focus on just the hospital. And just the deed—forget the prayers.

        C’mon Bob, this is not what’s being said.

        If the quote said “atheists don’t build churches, just hospitals” then your interpretation would hold. But it says “atheists build hospitals instead of churches”

        atheists focus on just the hospital. And just the deed—forget the prayers. And so on.

        This would be much more powerful if those who didn’t build churches and pray actually built more hospitals and did more good deeds. Measuring good deeds is a little difficult sometimes, but a simple count of how many hospitals were built by those who did or didn’t contribute to churches should be illustrative.

        • Kodie

          I think you are missing the point. Why do the religious build more churches than atheists?

          You want to take credit for hospitals, then you have to admit you also have a money-making racket with the churches to get the funds to build those hospitals – and then use those hospitals as weapons against patients and employees when they want medical services that are against your religious beliefs. VANITY and CONTROL.

        • BobSeidensticker

          In the US, individuals donate $200 billion to good works organizations. Churches’ books are hidden (presumably because they have something to hide), but perhaps they donate $2-10 billion. And, of course, American citizens (through taxes) contribute hundreds of billions to their fellow citizens through Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
          I don’t think churches’ donation to the cause counts for much.
          - Bob

        • KarlUdy

          Are all individuals atheists?

          And while some churches may prefer their financial statements remain hidden (in the US, I might add – in many other countries all charitable organizations, including churches, must make their financial statements available for audit). I suspect that for the majority, it is simply a case of extra work that they have never had to do, and so don’t.

        • BobSeidensticker

          There are 1.8 million nonprofits in the U.S. Most are tiny, and they have no problem filling out a short 990EZ form.
          Churches collect money and budget it to pay the staff and do maintenance on the buildings, and they can’t??
          Sure, churches might like to avoid the hassle. No, that’s not justified. And they’re shooting themselves in the foot because it makes them look like they’ve got something to hide. For many of them, I bet that’s true.

        • KarlUdy

          No. I said I think many don’t because of habit, not because of ulterior motive. There are some churches whose money practices would no doubt sicken me. For the record I have no objection to churches meeting the same standards of financial accountability as comparable non-profit organizations, as is the case in many other countries.

          Now, to the other question … are all individuals atheists?

        • BobSeidensticker

          I said I think many don’t because of habit, not because of ulterior motive.

          And I said that many don’t because they’re embarrassed by what the public would say.

          are all individuals atheists?

          Uh, no. Some individuals are religious. (I’m surprised that you didn’t know that.)

        • KarlUdy

          So why, when we are talking about the respective contributions of religious and non-religious people to hospitals and other social goods do you weigh up donations by individuals versus donations by churches?

          Surely if religion is such a diversion from doing good in the world it would show up in any study comparing, for example prayer and charitable giving.

    • Scott_In_OH

      I don’t know that it’s a tangent, but it’s still not really parallel.

      O’Hair’s statement refers (I think) to the fact that religions often tell their followers that the afterlife is a place of incomprehensible joy. The logical implication of this argument (that you should kill yourself now to speed the process) was recognized by the Catholic Church when it made suicide a cardinal sin.

      Assisted suicide, by contrast, is not about encouraging everyone to relish the thought of dying, but rather about recognizing that there are more dignified ways to die than by being wracked with pain for months on end.

      If anything, the belief that there is no afterlife should reduce the temptation to commit suicide, assisted or otherwise.

      • KarlUdy

        I think you are right that this is what O’Hair’s statement refers to. Although I think it also betrays a profound misunderstanding of Christianity as suicide is usually (putting mental health issues to one side for a moment) an act of selfishness, whereas Christianity discourages selfishness and instead promotes selflessness.

        I think you might also agree that it is somewhat peculiar that most euthanasia proponents are atheists.

        • Kodie

          I don’t agree that suicide is selfish. It is promoted as such, it definitely has a reputation as such, and mental illness cannot be put aside. It is a major cause of being suicidal.

          What is selfish is wanting a person you love to be alive at the cost of their comfort and peace. If they are going to a better place, why would dying be a bad thing for them? It’s only a bad thing for you. You would rather hang on to grandma in her hospital bed all juiced up, or even a brain-dead person for years and years instead of let them go. What is selfish about wanting to die?

          I mean that’s a bullshit, thoughtless thing to say. That’s putting a person in a much worse spot than you and trying to make them guilty for wanting to leave you down here without them. “Christianity discourages selfishness” by deflecting the accusation and putting it on someone who is in a lot worse pain. Propaganda.

          “I’m just being selfless by insisting my mother stay hooked up to life support and taking morphine and never being able to pick up her grandchildren or even remember their names, and she wants to die with as much dignity as she has left; I’m such a selfless Christian, I’m just not having it. Only god gets to decide.”

          I don’t think it’s peculiar that most euthanasia proponents are atheists. You see, we’re just not that superstitious about “interfering” in god’s domain, and all that.

        • Chuck Farley

          Can you backup your assertion that most proponents of euthanasia are atheists? Even if that is true, it would suggest that religious people are proponents of keeping people alive at all costs through whatever pain and humiliation they may suffer. That is not only selfish, it’s cruel and sadistic. Breathing and eating are also acts of selfishness, not wanting to live in pain is no more so.

        • KarlUdy

          Chuck, the issues of whether someone should be kept alive by artificial means, and whether they should be killed (by themselves or others) are separate. Opposition to euthanasia is not “keeping people alive at all costs”.

          If the pain and humiliation are the issues, then improved palliative care can be a solution.

          Breathing and eating can be selfish if they are done at the expense of someone else. Suicide is often stopping/avoiding the pain/humiliation/guilt, resulting in other people taking it on with interest added. Anyone who has dealt with the aftermath of a suicide knows that it is the most painful of all griefs to suffer.

        • Chuck Farley

          I will give you that keeping people alive by artificial means, and whether they purposely end their own lives are different things. But, is that to say you are OK with people ending their own or other people’s lives by removing the artificial means of life support? If so, where do you draw that line? Do you consider dialysis to fit the criteria of being kept alive by artificial means? If not why not? What about insulin dependence? Again, if not why not?

          I’m curious what better palliative care means to you. It can be severely lacking in many instances. In other words, more morphine doesn’t always work. In fact, administering pain meds can often actually lead to the death of the individual. Is that OK, as long as death isn’t the goal? The three people I’ve watched die in this manner have shown me that 1) the meds don’t always take away the pain – they still suffer 2) the patient is unconscious for the most part, and incoherent when they are conscious – not very dignified. 3) they require complete care, which tends to rob them of their dignity as well. All three mentioned this during their end of life care.

          Also, I think that you are conflating violent suicides and suicides due to depression and other mental illness with suicides and euthanasia that happen due to terminal illness. The result of latter is the same as palliative care, but without all the pain and humiliation.

          I don’t agree that the aftermath of a suicide is the most painful of all griefs, so that’s quite an assertion. Again it seems that you are conflating a suicide that takes people by surprise with a planned end of life due to terminal illness. It is my experience that there is no transfer of pain and humiliation in this instance, and certainly no interest.

          As for selfishness, I can see your point. But I would contend that if you have more than enough food and water and someone else doesn’t, that is selfish. In fact, it can be argued that there is no such thing as a selfless act.

        • KarlUdy

          Thanks for a thoughtful reply Chuck.

          In terms of where to draw the line for life support, I haven’t investigated those issues so I can’t give an informed opinion.

          In terms of what better palliative care means, I’m not thinking of just more painkillers, but also environment and caregivers.

          I think you made a good point about conflating the different circumstances surrounding suicide. If it were possible to untangle the two ideas in this thread then it would probably be helpful. Actually in euthanasia it is plausible that people may choose euthanasia out of a sense of duty and not being a burden to those around them. I hope this possibility concerns you as much as it does me.

        • Chuck Farley


          I’m glad you agree that there are different circumstances surrounding suicide. There is still a huge stigma attached to suicide and discussing it is the only way dispel that.

          In regards to palliative care, environment and caregivers can make a difference, but it can’t relieve all the pain or restore a person’s dignity.

          For me it comes down to this. Each person is the master of their own life, and should be the sole judge of whether or not their life is worth living. We should not require people to live in pain as we currently do. There are ways to allow people to end their lives peacefully and painlessly, and there aren’t any good reasons not to allow people to do that if they want to.

        • KarlUdy

          I think there are good reasons, a major one being the potential for abuse.

        • Chuck Farley

          That’s a pretty ambiguous argument, and I don’t think it’s a good reason at all. Can you elaborate?The potential for abuse, as well as the actual abuse, of firearms is off the chart, yet we still have them. Don’t like that example? How about automobiles?

          What are your other good reasons?

        • BobSeidensticker

          If the pain and humiliation are the issues, then improved palliative care can be a solution.

          I think you have a far higher view of medicine than is warranted. We pretty much all want dying people’s last months to have little pain and for them to be cognitively aware. Medicine has made progress, but there’s still a lot of suffering out there.

          Let’s drop the sin idea and forget about what makes baby Jesus cry. Let’s just focus on what’s best for the people we know and love.

          Anyone who has dealt with the aftermath of a suicide knows that it is the most painful of all griefs to suffer.

          You’re talking about an 80-year-old who says her good-byes and chooses death with dignity over 2 more months of painful decline? I gotta disagree with you there.

        • tyler

          actually, many early christians had a tendency to romanticize suicide, with some cults such as the circumcellions actively asking strangers to kill them. up until suicide became a cardinal sin in the sixth century a great many christians would pursue martyrdom by vandalizing pagan temples or attacking roman soldiers in order to provoke them. others just went the direct route and killed themselves.

          this doesn’t actually have any bearing on the current discussion, i just think trivia is neat.

        • smrnda

          I think it’s in rather poor taste to refer to suicide as ‘selfish.’ Many depressed people are already getting a guilt trip on not being happy, and I don’t want to contribute to someone’s misery by arguing that it’s selfish of them to *feel bad* and not be a happy smiling robot. The belief that negative emotions are ‘selfish’ is really just callousness on the part of people who just don’t want to see the suffering of others. They don’t really care to solve, treat, or acknowledge the suffering, they just want to avoid seeing it.

          The whole culture of the US is contaminated with this belief that suffering people aren’t really suffering but just need a ‘better attitude’ (meaning that nobody cares about the cause of suffering, or changing society, or doing anything, they just want to stop having to look at it.)

          I think that most people have no problem distinguishing between terminally ill people who simply want to die without going through more pain, depressed people, and people being *forced* to die by others. The only people who I ever find confuse these things are religious people who want to pretend that forcing someone to die and letting someone *choose* to die are somehow the same to muddy the waters.

        • KarlUdy

          smrnda, please don’t misconstrue what I am saying. I do not think depression is selfish. I do think suicide often is. I think depression often distorts people’s perspective so that they do not realize that their suicide will hurt, instead of relieving people.

          And I think the boundaries between your categories are not as clear as what you think. An elderly or sick person may feel that they are a burden on society, or those around them, and if euthanasia is an option they may feel pressure to die so that they are no longer a burden. And this article shows that these concerns are widely held. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/euthanasia-right-die-can-easily-2182129

        • smrnda

          I think depression can impair a person’s cognitive functioning enough that I don’t feel the person is really totally responsible for their choices; tragic, yes, but selfish, no. Delusional people aren’t making *morally bad choices* either.

          The article you linked speculates that people will choose euthanasia fearing they are a burden on others. The problem is the red flag cases it raises are of people with diminished cognitive capacity being euthanized (people with dementia, etc.) To me, these are totally separate concerns – the latter because it’s involuntary.

          For the first social pressures exist and influence every choice people make -if we took a choice away just since someone might be *pressured* to choose it we’d have no choices left. If someone is mentally capable of stating that they no longer wish to live when they are very old or very sick, I’m not going to second-guess that they’ve thought it through. If their quality of life is decent enough, I’d imagine they’d go on living.

          This may sound callous, but our sentimental attachment to cheating death at all costs is a pretty recent thing. Thanks to marriage I now have a lot of Chinese relatives, many of whom remember living through some pretty bad times. Elderly people often found out they were seriously ill and just decided not to get treatment since they knew resources were limited, and often never told their families until death was imminent. They were making an informed, conscious choice based on what options were available and what they cost. Thanks to a higher standard of living, this isn’t an issue in some other countries, but people will still often reach a point where they can make an informed choice that they don’t want to go on living. Better palliative care will help, but I think its presumptuous to assume nobody can actually just make a call and choose euthanasia.

          If the issue is the perception of being a burden when it’s false, better communication and accurate information is the answer. At the same time, I’m not going to say that every time a person decides they are more of a burden and no longer getting much out of life that it can’t just be the conclusion they’ve reached. If I started to become too mentally impaired to function, I would hope someone would honor my request not to go on at that point.

        • Chuck Farley

          You’re conflating again. Terminal illness is currently a requirement of any assisted suicide law that has been passed. Feeling that you are a burden isn’t terminal.

        • Kodie

          The article shows that these concerns are fear-mongering propaganda. You just can’t trust old people!

  • Justin

    Problem is, when Christians build hospitals and do other ‘good works’ they aren’t doing it primarily to help people physically. Rather, they are doing it as a means of opening the door to proselytizing. Want proof? Look at Christian charities the world over. Most of them say something like ‘Give so we can give Jesus to poor children in Africa! *It’ll also pay for meals and some clothes, but mostly Jesus!*

    • BobSeidensticker

      And it works on both sides of the equation. The charity uses good works to squeeze Westerners to give money, and the “good works” come with religious strings attached.
      When I give to CARE, 91% goes to good works. If I were to give to a country club, maybe a few percent would go to good works. Giving to a church is much more like the latter than the former.

      • Ron

        America’s Biggest Megachurches

        A Saturday evening at the Second Baptist Church of Houston is like Christian worship in most American towns: a sermon, some music, nice people walking from the parking lot with Bibles in hand.

        The difference is scale. Second Baptist is the second-largest “megachurch” in the U.S., a modern cathedral complex the size of an airport terminal. Inside “E Gym,” where the congregation’s “small” Saturday evening service is being held, two basketball courts full of believers in jeans and flip-flops rock out, sing along or just watch as a huge contemporary band jams to the song “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?”

        White and yellow stage lights hit the rising smoke before the performance cools down for the opening prayer. The sermon stops for applause as the audience watches an video projected overhead of a Christian-gone-wild beach retreat, where the church baptized nearly 700 teenagers.

        Spread across five campuses, Second Baptist has about 24,000 people attending one or another of its programs each week. The church has fitness centers, bookstores, information desks, a café, a K-12 school and free automotive repair service for single mothers. The annual budget: $53 million.

        Membership has its privileges. ;)

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