Giving Blood

I mentioned earlier that on May 3rd, the National Day of Prayer, many individual atheists and secular organizations will actually be doing something useful: Donating blood and signing up to be an organ donor.

If enough of us can do it, it might even get some positive press.

Watch this promotional video from the Rational Response Squad‘s effort to make a difference:

That is one frightening voice… But the sentiment is a good one.

If you’re interested in signing up and logging your donation after you give it (on May 3rd or any other day), you can do so here.

By the way, the link that takes you to that registration page is a pretty funny one… (Click on image to see the original)

Blood Drive Entry

[tags]atheist, atheism, National Day of Prayer, donate blood, organ donor, Rational Response Squad[/tags]

  • Siamang


    I thought it was a great idea until I saw that video.

    “Let’s infect the blood supply with atheist blood! Mwuhahahahaaa!!!!”

    I wanna say RRS guys, really, God damn it dudes, grow up.

    They are practically saying “You’re all a bunch of stupid delusional idiots. While you’re all praying, we’ll be kicking your ass. We’ll be giving blood, SUCK IT, Godheads!!!! WOOOT!!!! MORALLY SUPERIOR!!!!! WE WIN!!!!1!!!!”

  • Josh

    This is a good cause but Christians have an easy counter to it. Expect there to be calls for Christians to give blood in addition to praying on the National Day of Prayer. That’s all they have to do. This isn’t some huge, atheist crusade for humanity. I understand the point of it but it’s not really that big of a movement, the way I see it.

  • Susan

    Yeah, the whole “let’s benefit humanity” thing and the “let’s show the believers how dumb they are, ha ha ha” don’t really match up. I may even make myself face my fear of needles to go donate blood, but I have no objection if someone wants to pray, on this or any other day. (‘Course, if they want to pray AND give blood, even better!)

  • Siamang

    Yeah, I guess my point is, you don’t give blood while sticking your middle finger up at someone else.

    Atheists claim to have an authentic moral experience by doing good without fear of hell or without trying to curry favor in Heaven.

    I think it’s a salient philosophical point to say “we’re good for goodness’ sake.”

    This is TOTALLY counter to that. This is doing good, not for the reason of doing good, but so that we can be smug insufferable bastards while doing it.

  • Siamang

    And folks, PLEASE PLEASE DO give blood, or do other good works if you can. As Stevie Wonder said “Love’s in need of love today.”

    There are plenty of very, very good reasons for atheists to do good. There’s a better way to be in the world than this, I really do believe it.

  • Karen

    I think it’s a salient philosophical point to say “we’re good for goodness’ sake.”

    Daniel Dennett has a wonderful essay on this – and on the “power” of prayer – that I just discovered this week.

    I really appreciated reading it. One of my best friends was recently diagnosed with an agressive form of cancer, and I have to admit I’ve felt sort of weird because I can’t say, “I’m praying for you!” (as I would have in the past) even though I’m encouraging her and doing tangible things to support her. The essay helped cement my decision to tell her, “I don’t pray anymore, but I care about you and I’m thinking about you and I’ll do anything I can to help you heal.”

  • Rob


    My heart truly goes out to you and your friend. No matter your beliefs, cancer is a horrible thing to face. Hang in there.

  • Anthony Rasmussen

    FYI… Gay people are not permitted to donate blood in the US.,1082,0_557_,00.html#hiv

    Volunteering is such a pain for gay people. Volunteering to be a parent, soldier, or give blood all come with codified resistance.

  • null

    I like that “pray for entry” thing. That’s just too cute.

  • Mriana

    I like the idea, but Hemant, what if you are too little to donate blood or plasma? I don’t mean little as a child, but as in an fully grown adult who is 4′ 11 ” and 100 lbs. One has to be at least 110 pounds to donate. Not likeing needles is beside the point and a hardly an excuse, even though I am. My size makes a good excuse to ask how else can I help, though. When one is a little person, they can’t do some things that bigger people can.

    Granted, I’m not as little as some full grown adults, but I can empathize with them on so many things and I’m sure this is one of them. So, for all the little people out here who can not donate blood or plasma, how else can we join in on this wonderful idea?

    Organ donating will take several years, hopefully since it involves the person dying, before it benefits anyone. Something that is as helpful now as donating blood would be nice. Then maybe we just can’t join in on this right now some how due to our size. :(

  • FriendlyAtheist

    Mriana– For anyone too small or unable to donate, I think it’d be worthwhile to set up a service project of some sort :) You could definitely spread word about it and get people of all faiths (and no faith) to join you.

    And to be clear, no one is donating organs on May 3 :) But it’d be great if everyone registered to be an organ donor if they’re not one already. And get others to do the same.

    – Hemant

  • Karen

    My heart truly goes out to you and your friend. No matter your beliefs, cancer is a horrible thing to face. Hang in there.

    Thank you so much, Rob, that’s very kind of you.

    It is scary, because the type of lymphoma she’s got is both rare (so not a lot of studies done on it) and aggressive. This woman is a former fundamentalist Christian (like me) who went to Bob Jones University and later left the church but still considers herself a theist. We went to see “Letting Go of God” together a few years ago, and both sat there sobbing at the end.

    She’s such a terrific woman – totally devoted to helping other people at the expense of her own money and free time – that everyone just loves her.

    The good news: She’s otherwise healthy, relatively young (early 50s), assertive about investigating her treatment options, and well-insured. And she’s perfectly okay with my comments about no longer praying, as it turns out. She’s very happy for my support and friendship without my calling down supernatural interference (which plenty of other people are doing anyway)!

  • Mike

    Hi folks!

    I am a regular platelet donor here in Memphis and I also just organized our first blood drive at the high school where I teach. Because I donate platelets, not whole blood, I was not able to participate as a donor at our school drive. Whole blood donors have to wait 56 days between donations and I usually donate every other week. I couldn’t be put out of the pool for 8 weeks- I really like those cookies!!

    It sounds like you already have good background knowledge about the requirements to donate. Perhaps you could chair a blood drive at your place of employment or school.

    Essentially, you will need to contact the group responsible for collecting blood (Red Cross?) and talk to them about how to get started. Usually, they will have information on their website, and can send you a packet with posters, sign up sheets, etc. Your job will be promoting the event, enlisting donors, and ensuring that there is a physical location to meet the needs of the drive. If they can bring a mobile unit (one of my students called it the “blood truck” ) that will make it easier to find a spot.

    My thoughts will be with you and your friend. We lost a student at our school a few years ago to cancer. She was one of my inspirations to begin donating platelets. Many cancer patients require platelets because of the treatments they receive to fight the cancer. I know it won’t ease her suffering, but donating platelets can help you do “something” to help her and others.

    To everyone else, I apologize for the long post, but I am passionate about this issue. As for your reasons for donating, just remember that the patients who receive your blood probably won’t care who you are or why you donated. They will just be happy that you did.

  • Mriana

    Thanks Hemant and Mike for the ideas. :D Most of the time I don’t mind being a little person, but there are times it does put me at a disadvantage. I told my 18 y.o. son, who’s old enough and big enough to donate, about this. He’s donated twice since he turned 17. I grow my sons tall- both are almost 6′ tall and roughly 160-170 lbs. Actually, they can thank their father for the height.

  • Richard Wade

    I thought a long time about your concerns you expressed above, about doing a good thing for a shoddy motive, like wanting to be smug and morally superior to the participants in prayer day, etc.

    I’m still thinking about it, but I was reminded of an ancient story about an Buddhist hermit who learned that he was going to be visited by a famous Buddhist monk. The hermit lived in a cave, and he thought he would honor the monk by cleaning up the cave as best he could. Later, when he saw the monk coming up the steep mountain trail he began to have second thoughts, that cleaning up his cave was a disingenuous act putting on a false front that didn’t represent himself accurately, and also emphasized material appearance over spiritual substance. So in a panic he raced around the cave, throwing dirt and trash everywhere, trying to mess it up again. He turned to see the astonished monk staring at him in the midst of this apparent lunacy. As the hermit sheepishly explained his first and second actions, a smile simultaneously crept over both their faces and they both collapsed into helpless laughter on the floor of the cave. After they recovered they had a most pleasant and enlightening visit.

    I’m not quite sure how this story fits, but I think that wanting to look superior and wanting to make sure you’re not looking superior are both the same thing, a preoccupation with appearance or moral connotation. I can see your point, and I agree that RRS can be kind of adolescent at times, but the blood giving on that day doesn’t have to be about a superior comparison to the prayer giving. It can be simply about giving what we atheists have to give. Prayer means nothing to me, so instead of feeling left out I give what is meaningful to me, a truly person-to-person gift. As Mike points out, the recipients don’t’ care about our motives, they’re just grateful to be alive.

    I have given blood often for many years. I’ve lost count, but it totals many gallons. It is a joy to give so intimate a gift: a part of my body for a stranger I will never meet. I’ll give on May 3rd and register my donation not to say, “Hey we atheists are superior,” but to say, “Hey, atheists care too.”

  • Siamang

    Very thoughtful, Richard.

    I really like your comments.

    For me, I’d love it if the message was “Atheists care too.” If that was the motto of this RSS action, (as I hoped it was when Hemant linked to it) I’d be very happy with it.

    I recognize that giving is something that we seem to do better in groups, and so private, anonymous giving is something that is good, but you can multiply the good by getting others to give too.

    The RSS is just being so hostile with this action that it leaves a bad taste, for me.

  • stogoe

    Oh, noes, someone isn’t living up to your super-awesome serious important standards of serious important adultiness adult behavior serious adult actions. Serious.

    Go read some XKCD for slog’s sake. And chill out.

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