- Animal Protection: Animal Welfare Institute
- “Big Bang”: The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation
- Child Welfare: Camfed USA (the Campaign for Female Education)
- Education: Vidnyanvahini
- Environment: Center for Biological Diversity
- Health: Foundation for African Medicine and Education (FAME)
- Human Rights: Soulforce
- Peace: Federation of American Scientists
- Poverty: Trenton Area Soup Kitchen
While all the groups do really excellent work, the charity that stood out to me the most this quarter was Soulforce.
This is a group whose mission is to “end the religious and political oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning people.”
Sounds great, right? And yet, some of you will undoubtedly be upset that we’re giving money to them for one key reason:
Though Soulforce is not itself a religious organization, it includes many progressive religious leaders on its staff and board.
The last time FBB gave to a group like this — Quaker Peace and Social Witness — it didn’t go over very well with some of our members.
People wanted to know why FBB, a group that encourages atheists to donate money, was giving to a group that wasn’t secular or non-theistic in nature.
The response was (and still is) very simple: We don’t give to groups that waste money proselytizing. Neither the Quaker group nor Soulforce does that and we strongly support the excellent work they do. Supporting their cause does not mean we’re supporting their religion. That’s why we made them our beneficiaries.
One of the best features of FBB is that members get to choose where their donations dollars go. Every quarter, they’re always allowed to give more money to some charities while giving less to others. But I hope the fact that religious people work with Soulforce doesn’t give atheists a reason not to support them.
FBB members have given over $57,000 to charities this year alone. It’d be a sad statement if atheists stopped giving — or gave less to Soulforce — because they work with churches to change their perceptions about the LGBT community.
Just because many of us wish for a world where religion’s influence is diminished or non-existent, that doesn’t mean we can’t work with religious people toward common goals — especially when spreading religion isn’t part of their agenda.
On another note, this is one of the main reasons I’m so proud to work with Foundation Beyond Belief. We’re not afraid to give money to religious people if they’re doing the right things with it. It would be a huge mistake for any atheist-run charity to deny giving money to a particular group that does excellent (secular) work because they’re loosely “tainted” by religion.