Do Atheist Help Centers Exist?

I don’t know why I read letters-to-the-editor written by people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

But I came across this one and it just pissed me off:

I just want to say how tired I am of atheists complaining about their rights.

Now, if it weren’t for Christian-based food kitchens, homes for the abused, shelters for the homeless, etc., where would tens of thousands be? I have never seen an atheist help center.

If they choose not to believe in God, that’s their right, but should they force their nonbelief on a nation founded on godly principles?

So, the next time we have a tragedy and need consolation or help, should we call an atheist? Or would a Christian be better?

If they have no belief in God, why are they so upset?

CHARLES D. BOWER

That was published in The Ledger, which is based out of Lakeland, Florida, where the local city council is pushing to pray before meetings.

How *dare* atheists try to keep Christianity from taking over the council. The Atheist of Florida are fighting for separation for church and state. That benefits everybody, not just atheists.

Bower’s never seen an atheist help center?

Let me help him.

Foundation Beyond Belief has donated over $50,000 to a variety of charities in 2010 alone.

The Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Effort (SHARE) raised over $100,000 for Haitian Earthquake relief and continues to raise money for large-scale disaster relief.

Members of SECULAR Center USA volunteer their time constantly, as do many members of many local atheist groups. The group in Austin, TX has done several food giveaways to the homeless with no strings attached.

Atheists donate blood, give to non-profits, and do what we can to make the world a better place because we know there’s no afterlife that will make things better.

You should try contacting some of the atheists running these charity groups. They’re people who know you don’t need a god to be good.

The rest of Bower’s letter makes no sense either. When have atheists ever “forced our non-belief” onto the nation? And, of course, our nation was never founded on “godly” principles. He asks: why are we so upset? For a lot of reasons. And because people like you don’t do their homework before writing letters disparaging an entire community of good people.

  • Frink

    Typical.

  • Desirai

    It is sick that people think like that.

  • JD

    There already are plenty of refutations of those arguments. Groupthink happens with most circles of thought, though religious and political groups seem to be especially prone to it.

  • JD

    Addendum: Aren’t there secular help centers? Maybe it’s that there aren’t places around that push Atheism the way Christian help centers push Christianity. I don’t see the connection between this and government endorsement of religion.

    These are two very separate issues, I call this a red herring, though I think it does show the hypocrisy in complaining about pushing non-belief when he’s pushing his own belief.

  • exe

    I hope you posted your response in the same newspaper?

  • http://whoreofalltheearth.blogspot.com Whore of All the Earth

    I think it’s funny that he says “if they choose not to believe in God.” I got to a certain point where the evidence just didn’t add up anymore and couldn’t believe in God.

    This is yet another case of someone construing “loss of preferential treatment” as “loss of rights.”

  • Ron in Houston

    Ignorance is rampant. Also, you can’t argue with stupidity.

  • Jeff

    Hemant, I’ve recently begun commenting here again after a hiatus of about a year, year and a half (after being hounded off by a few of your regulars for not being “friendly” enough).

    It seems to me you’ve become edgier regarding Christianity – and, I must say, I think it’s entirely a change for the better.

  • Claudia

    Whenever I see letters or comments like that, I feel like sending it into the paper again, but with “Jew” replacing “atheist” and other cosmetic changes where appropriate, adding a post-it note saying “Would you print this?”

  • Bill

    His argument is a common one and one that gets a lot of attention. It’s a pity that it does as it is complete fucking bullshit. A combination of dishonesty and complete fucking stupidity keeps the argument alive. It’s difficult to counter this argument as the dishonest proponents of it ignore evidence to the contrary and the completely fucking stupid ones are completely fucking stupid. I rest my case m’lud.

  • Puzzled

    Here’s something funny – when atheists help others (I know, what comes next is hard to imagine, but please try) they do it to help others, not to spread their image! When an atheist helps build a school, he doesn’t feel a need to plaster all over it with his beliefs. We are able to go into places where people need help and help them; the Christian insists he wants to help, when what he really wants to do is spread his ‘good news’ with helping as a positive side effect.

  • Luther

    They don’t feed the homeless, but they get them care: The National Association of Free Clinics. Thank you Keith Olberman!

    I see no religious claims in their mission etc. http://www.freeclinics.us/

    They certainly accepted me as a volunteer, no religious test!!!

    They have shown a lot more success in a couple of years than prayer in a couple of millenniums.

  • Tiffany E.

    Puzzled, I agree. I don’t feel the need to spread any particular image.. I do what I do because I enjoy doing it and feel a moral responsibility to help others-not because I want recognition.
    But let me go ahead and reverse the stereotype right quick.
    I’m part of a secular service committee at my local CFI branch (MI) who has this year-so far, participated in an MS walk, helped to construct a butterfly garden, hosted a biodiversity lecture and worked a ‘service day’ for the place that CFI MI hosts it’s secular summer retreat. We plan on doing other events throughout the year.

    I also run my community college CFI student group. Our first event is called Food For Freethought,which I learned about through Joel whose already received a mention on here-the whole premise is spreading knowledge, and giving back to our community.

    Plus, I’ve done over 400 hours of community service on my own since October of last year. All while being a secular mom whose trying to raise her kid with a sense of purpose by my actions, not my dogma. He will be more likely to volunteer and give of himself not because some unnamed power told him so, but because he’ll feel it’s the right thing to do.

    So. Bam. I’m a walking Atheist Help Center. :-)

    Shameless plug: GRCC’s Food For Freethought Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/CFI-GRCC-Food-For-Freethought/138981879448103

  • http://www.obimomkenobi.com Obi-Mom Kenobi

    My first thought was, ‘Has he never heard of Goodwill?’ Despite having no religious ties, Goodwill has helped millions of people with social, economic, physical, emotional and mental disadvantages learn viable employment skills and become independent members of society, while also recycling billions of pounds of durable goods that would otherwise go into our nation’s landfills. That’s not bad for a completely secular non-profit. (I have no ties to Goodwill, by the way, outside of finding some remarkable deals.)

  • Jay

    It cracks me up how people can say things like a nation “founded on godly principles” and “Christian nation” and take themselves seriously. Completely ignoring the fact that a good number of our founding fathers were not Christians, and explicitly stated that they weren’t founding a nation run by a god. This is a human nation, like it or not.

    As far as help centers, or rather, atheists helping society, if one was to really look, they’d be surprised. We’re just a lot quieter about it. Some fear being ostracized, others just don’t want to push their beliefs (or lack of), so they keep quiet, and keep helping regardless out of their own personal kindness. Christians on the other hand, loudly exclaim their beliefs, somewhat in a “look at me, and look at all the good things I’m doing in the name of Jesus” sort of way.

  • http://www.atheistsofflorida.org EllenBeth Wachs

    This letter is typical and just one of many that represent the majority view in my bigoted town.

    Lakeland City Commission actually codified their prayer. The Commission enacted a law requiring prayer in response to our lawsuit against their wholly sectarian prayers. As for the prayer occurring prior to the meeting, that is a misconception and form over substance. Prior to the enactment of the aforementioned law, the prayer was on the agenda and started after the Mayor brought the gavel down. It is now not on the agenda. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 am. Instead of hammering the gavel at that time, the Mayor now simply calls for the Pastor to give the prayer and the hammers the gavel immediately thereafter. The time for the prayer hasn’t changed. The manner of opening the meeting hasn’t changed. It is a farce.

    Here is one of the better responses to the lawsuit-

    A voicemail exorcism!

  • gwen

    The Red Cross is a secular organization. Probably the most well known in the world. Their ‘cross’ is not a religious symbol.

  • http://www.noforbiddenquestions.com NFQ

    Well. It’s a good thing that the Foundation Beyond Belief has officially clarified that demonstrating the good works of atheists is the “least important” of their goals and downplayed as “(don’t say ignorance, don’t say ignorance) misinformedness” any attempts to point out that they’re not doing a good job fulfilling that apparently less important goal. Otherwise, this and all the many other instances I’ve seen of people citing FBB to prove that atheists are charitable might have made me think that FBB should consider the actual points being made.

  • Erp

    Strictly speaking we should distinguish between ‘atheistic’ which is explicitly non-theistic and ‘secular’ which is ‘don’t care’. There are plenty of secular help groups (Planned Parenthood for instance provides on a sliding scale contraceptions, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases for men and women, general health screening and education as well as abortions, advice on adoption services and pregnancy care).

  • Christine

    I agree – there aren’t many atheist organizations doing charity, when compared with Christian ones. But there are plenty of secular aid organizations that stay out of the religious issue entirely, and surely a lot of atheists support them.

    When I volunteer, I make it a point not to broadcast my beliefs. As said above, I think most atheists help to help, and it is beyond this bonehead that anyone could just help without trying to indoctrinate people at the same time. Major case of projection!

  • Leigh

    The largest group on http://www.kiva.org , a microlending website, is the Atheist/agnostic/humanist/freethinkers group. We have over $2M in loans to those looking to lift themselves above poverty through business endeavors around the world. People don’t attribute secular good-deeds to atheists, although we are a main contributors. We just don’t make a big deal about it.

    Not to mention that a lot of marginalized groups are religious, which is a lot why religious charities are so successful. It’s often welcome to bring hope (albeit false hope) that a Supreme Being caused and will change your situation along with whatever physical help you bring.

  • Citizen Z

    I just want to say how tired I am of atheists complaining about their rights.

    Wow, right off the bat, huh?

  • http://www.cloverwise.com/ocd Tim

    People like that infuriate me. Christians force their religion into every aspect of public and private life, then dare to complain about atheists “forcing their non-belief on others?” First of all, you can’t “force” a lack of something on anyone. We merely try to enforce the separation of church and state as outlined in the constitution, and Christians throw a hissy fit. Hypocrisy, thy name is religion.

  • http://www.loreleiarmstrong.com Lorelei

    I donate blood, volunteer at the library, and am a Red Cross emergency responder. So yeah, if you have an emergency in my part of the world, an atheist will show up to help. And I’ll alphabetize your books while I’m at it.

  • http://girlandocean.wordpress.com Amy-Jean

    The Red Cross! The Red Cross is a 100% secular organization, which is why I love it so. It is a common misconception that they are Christian since they have a cross as their logo, but it’s actually a reverse Swiss flag. They use the Red Crescent symbol in Muslim countries where the cross could be construed as anti-Islam, but they are still completely unaffiliated with any religion.

    You can’t do too much better than the Red Cross as far as huge-scale disaster relief goes. And they won’t try to shove any religious nonsense onto anyone they save.

  • TXatheist

    Thanks for thinking of our good works here in Austin. It will be our one year anniversary in September.

  • muggle

    I’m with NFQ. Since the Foundation Beyond Belief turned out to not be beyond belief apparently we are without a charitable voice. I wish to hell they’d get that most of their appeal was in showing that Atheists are good, giving people and including religious charities even as benign as the Quakers undermines that totally. If they aren’t going to keep true to the image that you don’t need religion to be charitable, there’s utterly no reason to give to them rather than the charities of your choice directly. None.

    Leigh, thanks for the link. I’ve bookmarked that to read thoroughly. I’ve just cut my income to less than half it was by retiring but my daughter’s finally holding her own and if possible (which it definitely will be if I also get Social Security) I’d like to get back into the habit of monthly giving.

    However, there’s plenty of secular and no specifically Atheist. I don’t like Humanism which is really just another freaking religion as far as I’m concerned with its rules of behavior and dictates how everyone should be so I’m also not going to give to anything labelled Humanist.

    But, sigh, I guess I’ll just go on giving to secular causes when I have a few extra dollars to give away. And wishing for something that’s purely Atheist and truly excludes religious organizations as recipients. You know instead of acting like, yes, we do need to include a church or two to be really effective.

    And, of course, continue to keep up my memberships in political organizations I believe in. At least I don’t have to worry about FFRF endorsing some church.

  • muggle

    Oh, and I’ll also echo the Red Cross. It doesn’t get better than that and maybe, just maybe, they’re so damned good at what they do because they’re secular. They concentrate on what needs doing instead of sending a message of religion or irreligion. I really don’t perceive a time when they won’t get some of my charitable dollars.

  • Claudia

    Medicines Sans Frontiers is another explicitly secular organization that does fantastic work all over the world. Last year, a youtube atheist community driven fundraiser raised $30.000 for the organization, and they’re going in for another round this year.

  • Aristarchus

    Secular is not the same as atheist. Yes, the Red Cross and others are secular organizations, but there are in fact (as far as I know) no atheist help centers or anything else. Just because they’re most of the population, most of the money donated to secular organizations comes from Christians. This guy probably knows secular charities exist, but he thinks *atheist* charities don’t exist. Atheist aggregators like FBB are nice and get a little publicility, but most people see the charity actually delivering the services. Sometimes they’re religious and sometimes they’re secular, but they’re never atheist. He’s still a moron, and atheists get constitutional rights whether or not they donate to charity at all… but if you want to try to change the image, you have to understand why it’s there.

  • beckster

    I am an atheist and I run a non-profit charity organization which I founded. So there.

  • Dan W

    Why are atheists so upset?
    Because of idiots like you, Charles D. Bower. Idiots who don’t even bother to learn about atheists or how this country was founded before spewing complete bullshit about both. And then these same religious morons try to force their religion into the government where it doesn’t belong.

  • keystothekid

    When I help someone, I don’t try to deconvert them, I help them because they are a fellow human being, not a soul point to win with God.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Sometimes they’re religious and sometimes they’re secular, but they’re never atheist. He’s still a moron, and atheists get constitutional rights whether or not they donate to charity at all… but if you want to try to change the image, you have to understand why it’s there.

    Well, of course, but atheists are not a cohesive group. I’d wager that upwards of 90% of atheists in the world have never visited an atheist blog or joined an atheist organization. They don’t consider themselves part of an atheist movement. They just consider themselves part of regular society and don’t segregate themselves based on not believing in gods.

    I’m fine with efforts like FBB, but how can our image be tarnished when the vast majority of us simply donate to secular charities? You don’t see non-stamp collectors setting up charities in the name of not collecting stamps. We don’t actually need special atheist charities because secular ones serve the purpose perfectly well. Christian charities are set up to spread Christianity, but secular charities do good work without promoting religion. Since the majority of atheists have no desire to identify their atheism with their charity work, or to spread atheism in the larger society, there’s simply very little demand or need for atheist charities. I’ve never donated to an atheist charity, but I do donate to several secular charities and have done so regularly for years.

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    So, the next time we have a tragedy and need consolation or help, should we call an atheist? Or would a Christian be better?

    Definitely an atheist. They give help without demanding one attend sermons, profess faith, or adhere to religious tenets. They give help because the person needs help, not to get brownie points from a sky faerie. And they never deny help to a person because that individual is of the “wrong” faith, because they are gay, or for any other arbitrary reason.

  • cathy

    Things like this also ignore the massive benefits that christianized groups get from the state. I’d really like to see these groups try to float without sucking up atheist tax dollars. Also, christians in the US purposefully undermine secular aid to the poor (check out who are right wing and anti-welfare at disproportionate rates-those who are highly attached to christianity), so that the poor have no other option, which means that poor atheists have to shut up or starve (unless they are queer, in which case they are just stuck with the starve side). It’s not a coincidence that the same people who tout ‘faith based initiatives’ try to cut food stamps, HUD, childcare, healthcare, etc. Because if we had a decent secular social support system, they would not be able to use poverty as a form of religious coercion. “I have never seen an atheist help center” I know tons of atheist who work or volunteer in public interest, we just don’t use that as a backstabbing vicious form of social coercion, we use it as a means to try and fix the actual problem. “So, the next time we have a tragedy and need consolation or help, should we call an atheist?” You might very well be doing exactly that by calling a worker for a secular group. Call as a young parent for someone to look after your kids free of charge while you study for your ged in my home town means calling an atheist. And that lady who gives out free food during hard times? Also an atheist.

  • Sarah

    Are you sending a response to the editor? Additionally, are you going to mention charities that bear no relation to religion, for or against it? And are you going to mention how so many Christian charities refuse to provide their service without forcing sermons on the people who need their help before their preaching?

    I don’t think such ignorant, harsh speech should go unanswered.

  • http://www.foundationbeyondbelief.org Dale McGowan

    @muggle:

    I wish to hell they’d get that most of their appeal was in showing that Atheists are good, giving people

    And a foundation of good, giving atheist members does exactly that, don’t you think?

    The recipients are a separate question, one our atheist members answer in different ways. That’s why FBB members can distribute their donations as they wish. Those who agree with you zeroed out their Peace donation this quarter. Others, every bit as atheistic, actually increased their Peace donation for the point it made. Can we allow that flexibility of expression? I’d sure like to.

    @NFQ: My comment about ignorance (on my personal blog, not FBB’s, btw) was directed NOT at “any attempts” to argue against the policy, but at those that showed literal, shocking ignorance of the wide spectrum of religious expression. Sorry that was unclear.

  • http://godobscuresperception.blogspot.com GodObscuresPerception

    It’s not just atheists that should be complaining about infringed rights. The separation of church and state is a right that all Americans can enjoy! Why on earth would anyone think that prayer before a city council meeting is a good idea? Save it for your family’s dinner table.

  • JM_Shep

    I get together with the Minnesota Atheists in the Twin Cities area to give blood at Memorial Blood Center. Not only do they provide blood, they also focus on the science of blood and offer more services and technologies (regarding blood) than the Red Cross does. I don’t really have anything against the Red Cross, but I don’t really like the ‘Cross’ part of their (its?) name.

    But I agree that we don’t really need atheist charities. People think we’re pushing our ‘beliefs’ (come on, you can’t call non-belief belief) just by saying we’re atheists, do we really need to ‘push’ atheism in a time of need? I suppose this is why atheists don’t mention atheism when they’re doing charity work.
    Bickering over belief and non-belief is not the thing that needs to be done when people need help. Fix the problem. End of story, no proselytizing needed.

  • http://www.savingthrowtodisbelieve.com Mandi

    This is something that I’ve often wondered about. I am a former Rescue Mission employee, and I *love* what these organizations do as far as committing to getting people off of the streets and bringing them back to be productive members of society. I do NOT love the Christian and religious obligations they impose on those they help.

    I would LOVE to see an “Atheist Rescue Mission” type of organization pop up. For some reason, these organizations don’t seem to exist.

    When this is brought up, the responses tend to be the same (just like this one): we are pointed in the direction of atheist charities who *donate money* to organizations. Donating money is well and good; it is most definitely a worthy cause.

    But donating money or doing food giveaways to the homeless is not the same as physically providing services to the people who need help getting off of the streets.

    One is not any less noble than the other, but don’t compare apples to oranges when trying to make a point.

  • Pingback: Secular Help Centers? – Saving Throw to Disbelieve

  • Angel

    So, the next time we have a tragedy and need consolation or help, should we call an atheist? Or would a Christian be better?

    I’ve spent the better part of an hour staring at this particular quote. It enrages me.

    I’m one of those people who VOLUNTEERED to be trained to respond, with the police, to the scenes of horrific crimes in order to help the victims. I VOLUNTEER to help people prepare for court sessions where they will be forced to recount, in great detail, things that no individual should ever be witness to. Or have done to them. I VOLUNTEER to be on-call 24 hours a day should the need arise.

    I VOLUNTEER knowing that I can never talk to my loved ones about my job, so I can provide victims with complete anonymity and privacy. I VOLUNTEER knowing that I will read police reports that will give me nightmares for months. I VOLUNTEER to take phone calls from people who are ready to take their own lives and just want to tell someone how much they hurt. I VOLUNTARILY chose this life. Not because I want to earn a magical “Get Out Of Hell Free” card, but because I fucking care about my fellow humans.

    And for all that, I am to be told that I’m not fucking good enough because I don’t hold any religious beliefs?

    Fuck you, Charles D. Bower.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    one of the potentially nastiest moments i had in Divinity school came when a believer claimed, in a rather glib fashion, that without belief a person could not be completely moral. i remember almost having a meltdown, before reigning it in and using logic and reason to prove the many ways in which her statement was false. still, it really irks me that there are otherwise intelligent people like her out there, and a lot of them. people who don’t hate us, or even think about us very much, but blithely accept the construction that atheism and immorality or lechery go together. it’s the frakking believers who keep diddling all the little kids, stealing from church coffers, supporting illegal invasions… but i know a lot of moderate christians who really just can’t imagine that atheists are (usually, even) charitable compassionate people, who do what we do because logic and reason normally go hand in hand with “what’s right.”

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    Since the majority of atheists have no desire to identify their atheism with their charity work, or to spread atheism in the larger society, there’s simply very little demand or need for atheist charities.

    you’re right to point to the fact that simply by answering the question, we’re accepting their framework. we don’t need to prove anything; that’s inherent in not having a belief system like theirs. however, if you look at it in terms of political strategy, the idea of a vocally atheist charity is a useful one. some of us do want to spread atheism in larger society. i get annoyed when people compare that project to evangelism (not saying you are) because it’s the same illogic that posits nonbelief as “a belief system.” i have reasons based on rational argument and logic to be vocal about atheism and my opinions of belief, even as i don’t expect all nonbelievers to choose to act like me.

  • muggle

    Angel, let me give you cudos for what you do.

    I’ve once talked someone out of suicide as an occurance of the job I had at the time. I worked for Unemployment and she was a victim of sexual harrassment fired because she didn’t give in to it. I stayed on the phone with her for over half an just letting her talk and calm down and encouraging her. (She had a good case and I knew she’d win the appeal but wasn’t allowed to say that so had to kind of tell her to read between the lines.) By the time she thanked me and hung up, she was in better spirits and convinced she could handle it even if they appealed all the way up to the Court of Appeals because I had been able to tell her they didn’t have to show cause to file the appeal and all the evidence would be reviewed at any appeal and there was plenty of evidence in her file.

    I cannot even imagine doing this on a regular basis. I’ve toyed with the idea but have never had the fortitude or the means (being on call 24/7) to do it. What you’re doing to help victims is immeasurable and, as infuriating as this is, you and those you have helped know what you are made of.

  • Angel

    I came to re-read the letter to see if I was any less infuriated than I was. I normally try to avoid the f-bomb (although I swear like the drunken love child of a sailor and a trucker), but even now I am unable to read it without clenching my jaw in anger.

    Drawing lines between charity and prayer at a government meeting is simply nonsensical. It’s apples to water buffalo. It’s almost as baffling as being called a bleeding heart liberal by a religious person, as though it is an insult. I want to grab them, shake them, and shout “AREN’T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE ONE TOO?”

  • Larry

    Hey I think you forgot the biggest one:

    Non-Believers Giving Aid:
    http://givingaid.richarddawkins.net/

  • Generalization?

    I hope I do not seem rude by this, but generalizing by saying “Christians” and then saying “….”… Doesn’t that kind of bring you down to their level by lobbing everyone into one negative group?
    I myself am a non-denominational christian, and I clicked the link to this page on google out of random boredom (Not to discredit this page, or atheist in general by that statement)… But I agree mostly with all of the comments here, and I hate the idiocy and prejudice nature of the religion I am often at times ashamed with a lot of the other people I share the religion with…
    I support any religion or belief fully, and think that people shouldn’t be forced or imposed to believe this or that… Anyway, back to my original point… Kinda insulting when atheist and other religions/groups/people generalize and say “Christians” when we all aren’t over zealous morons seemingly hell bent on imposing our religion on the world…
    Well I apologize if it seemed like I was ranting… Hope you all have a good day/evening.

  • http://www.noforbiddenquestions.com NFQ

    @Dale McGowan: Sorry I only just came across your comment.

    And a foundation of good, giving atheist members does exactly that [showing that Atheists are good, giving people], don’t you think?

    No. Because many, many more people will hear about and see the actual charity work being done, than will hear about the Foundation Beyond Belief. A religiously-motivated charity organization doing their charity under the explicit banner of their religious beliefs gets publicity for that religion, and this increases their appeal and wins converts. This is really a very simple concept, and I’m getting tired of explaining it over and over.

    The recipients are a separate question, one our atheist members answer in different ways. That’s why FBB members can distribute their donations as they wish. Those who agree with you zeroed out their Peace donation this quarter. Others, every bit as atheistic, actually increased their Peace donation for the point it made. Can we allow that flexibility of expression? I’d sure like to.

    It is not a separate question, as I just explained. Also, the fact that some FBB members are indifferent to or even like this is not a sufficient reason, nor is the fact that people can switch their money out, as I explained in points #6 and #7 of my last post on the subject. If it’s a bad idea, if it detracts from FBB’s purpose, it doesn’t matter how many people don’t realize it. It’s still a bad idea. I’m also really unconvinced that people are significantly in support of this sort of thing, especially when you account for the many people who had been considering joining FBB who now won’t.

    This isn’t about whether it’s ever a reasonable idea for an individual atheist to make a charitable contribution to a religious organization. This is about whether an explicitly atheist organization should attempt to funnel atheist money to a religious group, given the public nature of all its actions and the fact that they may be seen as statements on behalf of atheists as a whole. If your argument is that FBB isn’t trying to funnel any money anywhere, what is it for? What does it offer atheists, if not a slate of worthy charities that it endorses as places to send money to in the name of atheism?

    @NFQ: My comment about ignorance (on my personal blog, not FBB’s, btw) was directed NOT at “any attempts” to argue against the policy, but at those that showed literal, shocking ignorance of the wide spectrum of religious expression. Sorry that was unclear.

    You’re still the executive director of FBB, and statements made under your name at your public website are still clearly the opinions of the guy running FBB. It doesn’t really matter what website you posted on. (I understand that your blog is maybe less “official,” which is why I wrote “officially clarified” and “downplayed”, instead of “officially clarified and “officially downplayed.” Apologies for the grammatical ambiguities.) My point was not that you were upset with ignorance. I certainly sympathize with that feeling! My point was that you only focused on the ignorance, defeated it as a strawman, and ignored all the legitimate, reasonable arguments being made.

  • Lindsay

    Also, just because an organization was born out of a community of faith doesn’t mean that all of the people working or volunteering there belong to that faith. For example, I am an agnostic who just spent two years working for a rebuild organization in New Orleans that was affiliated with a Christian denomination, and many of the people I worked with were agnostic, atheist, Jewish, or members of other denominations. In our case, creating a program under a religious organization was easier because the church was already established as a non-profit and had pools of money and resources we could draw on.

  • Amanda

    More secular community groups (I know secular =/= atheist): Rotary Club International, Lions Club International, and 4-H Clubs. While secular, not atheist, they are a great example of long-running organizations which provide service and education for the common good, not because it scores cosmic brownie points.

    (insert cosmic brownie joke here–> _____ )

  • Truelgbt

    “Secular” merely means not affiliated with a particular organization.  It is a mixture of people of various beliefs and philosophies including atheism and religion.  So it seems rather dishonest to mention secular organizations in respone to this article.