Editor’s Note: Last month, I wrote an essay encouraging atheists to join the Foundation Beyond Belief, a new charitable group doing good for human beings and the world in the name of freethought. I also offered to write a front-page post interviewing anyone who agreed to join the Foundation as a result of hearing about it on my site. This is the next in that series of interviews, which will be posted each weekend. Please welcome Thom Wynn!
Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you, where do you live, what do you do?
My name is Thom and I live in Byron, GA, though I’m happy to say I was not born here. I will forever claim my birth state of California (despite only living there a short time and only making it back out once to visit so far) because of the joy it brings me to not have what is commonly referred to as “southern pride”. I feel the ideas one supports and the ethics one employs is a much better indicator of character than uncontrollable factors such as where someone was born or what religion they were born into. I have been married to my wonderful wife, Kristi, for 10 plus years and we have 5 beautiful daughters. We both have jobs and work mainly to pay the bills as this is what life is apparently supposed to be about. So, we do what we have to do to survive and continue to pursue our true passion of making the world a better place for others and for our children in the future.
If you’re an atheist, when did you first become an atheist, and how long have you been one? If you’re not an atheist, how would you define your beliefs?
Well, let’s see. We believe in equal rights for all – woman or man, gay or straight, black or white (and every shade in between). We believe that everyone has the right to pursue their own paths to happiness while striving to make others happy in the present as this life is the only one we get and we should appreciate it and do everything we can to make it a better place. We believe that religion belongs in the privacy of someone’s home or in their church and never, ever in government or schools. We believe that we evolved through natural selection like every other living thing. We believe that the only way to gain any knowledge about the world we live in is through science and reason. We believe that the bible is a book of fairytales and find it so very odd that the religious can so easily dismiss every other religion while not noticing how ridiculous their particular flavor of religion is to everyone else. Hello Christians, what about the 4 billion people on planet Earth that disagree with you? So, the answer to the question would be most definitely yes.
No blog as of yet unless you count the ongoing social commentary in my head. You can check it out if you like at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you given to other charities before joining the Foundation Beyond Belief? If so, which ones are your favorites?
We have given to other charities in the past, mainly in the form of donating to and helping with animal rescues. My wife has a habit of picking up lost or abandoned animals. We usually end up nursing them back to health then either finding their owners or finding a rescue that specializes in their particular breed (it also seems she has a habit of finding rare breeds). We would probably keep more if our family didn’t already consist of the aforementioned 5 children, along with 3 dogs and a cat, not to mention the limited house and yard space. Also, recently we gave through the American Humanist Association to help in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti and were very pleased with their efforts and feel like they were really able to make a difference.
What membership level did you join the Foundation at? How do you plan to divide your initial donation?
We joined at the $30/month level and are eager to begin helping as many different worthy causes as possible. When I first started reading about the different charities, I was especially pleased with the “Big Bang” section as I’ve always been a fan of the smaller organizations that really have something to offer. What was really great about this quarter’s “Big Bang” charity is that it is Smart Recovery, a science based addiction recovery program. Now, that’s truly an effort worth getting behind and supporting. Addiction recovery is hard enough without having the added pressure of joining a cult.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to atheists who are considering supporting the Foundation or other charitable groups?
It feels great to be a part of an organization that’s going to make a difference; to be a part of something that will benefit many deserving causes and to be able to do it for all the right reasons. We should all do what we can because we can make a difference and we can do it without proselytizing. Let’s show the world what it means to support worthy causes with no ulterior motives.