Foundation Beyond Belief: Challenge the Gap

The organization I chair, Foundation Beyond Belief, has faced an important dilemma during our first year of existence.

We obviously want to encourage atheist donors to give to secular charities.

At the same time, we want to be able to support groups run by religious organizations, if they’re also doing secular work (as long as they’re not proselytizing while they do it).

However, we quickly learned that a lot of you have no desire to support any religious groups whatsoever, no matter what they do. At first, we thought this was a simple fix — don’t like a particular charity? Just shift your donation to a different category for the quarter.

That turned out to be more complicated than we had hoped.

So we asked our membership what they wanted to do regarding religious beneficiaries:

Over half of the respondents (51.7%) said, “I think it’s a good idea and might even support such groups with my donation.” A further 15 percent support the idea even though they are not likely to allocate their own funds for it, and 5.5 percent said they were indifferent.

On the other side, 18 percent do not think FBB should support any religious charities but are willing to shift their funds to avoid them, while 9.5 percent said they opposed the policy strongly enough to consider canceling their membership.

Ultimately, we felt we should continue offering our members the choice of giving to religious groups doing secular work if they wanted to… but we needed to make a change.

It’s clear from those results that the option [to give to religious groups] should remain. But those members who wish to avoid religious charities shouldn’t have to monitor their account closely to do so. They need an easy way of assuring that their funds always and only go to secular causes.

To satisfy both needs, we are creating a new, separate donation category for organizations based in other worldviews. Members who want to support that program can include a percentage in that box, while others can simply distribute their donations in the other nine categories, which will now feature secular organizations only.

In other words, nine of our categories will now always support non-theistic charities. One category will now support religious groups doing valuable work.

This should make it much easier for members to decide where their money should go.

We’re calling this reorganization: “Challenge the Gap: different beliefs, common goals.” It will go live in the beginning of January.

CHALLENGE THE GAP is an innovative humanist program that challenges this idea by finding and working the common ground between theists and nontheists.

Participating in this kind of effort does not mean that differences don’t matter, only that the common ground is worth exploring despite the differences. Not all nontheists agree with that approach, and that’s fine. This project is designed for those who do.

The first beneficiary will be the Interfaith Youth Core.

Whether or not you support IFYC — I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan — I think it’s important to include groups like this in our slate. They aim to bring people from various faiths together in an effort to help others. That’s not a bad thing.

But if you, like me, don’t want to support any group that seeks to strengthen a person’s religious identity (PDF), you don’t have to.

Become a member of FBB. If you want to give to only secular charities, it’s now incredibly easy to do so, and you don’t have to check back every few months to make sure that’s happening.

If you want to consider giving to theistic organizations that just do some good things, that’s an option, too.

Remember: the purpose of FBB is to encourage atheists to give more money to charity. Anyone can do it and you don’t have to give much to feel incredible about your donation.

Better yet, give a subscription to a loved one. Let them enjoy the gift of donating to causes they support.

  • Ibis

    My question is why FBB would have such a goal in the first place? Isn’t this supposed to be about helping people without having any religious agenda? How can you do that if you’re partnering or giving donations to religious organisations? Then you’re just perpetuating the problem.

    I don’t know if you did, but from what you report above you failed to ask your respondents “Would you stop giving or withdraw your membership from FBB if we never support a religious charity?”. I doubt the number for that would be very high.

    I just find the whole thing disappointing. Religious charities scam enough money off of their followers, they don’t need atheists’ money as well.

  • ewan

    I also simply don’t get FBB’s desire to support religious charities; the whole ‘as long as they don’t proselytize’ thing is a total cop-out. Any charity with an explicitly religious identity is working for the religious agenda simply by existing and being visible, in the same way that FBB furthers the atheist cause (or could do) by just getting on with being ‘good without god’.

    It seems to me that charities can be divided into three groups based on religiosity; explicitly religious, explicitly atheist, and secular (in the sense of taking no position on the question of religion at all). FBB could reasonably support the latter two, but not the first.

    There are two big problems with supporting any explicitly religious charity; firstly, it supports religion, and secondly it undermines the entire message if it turns out that atheists can’t be ‘good without god’ because they need believers to actually do the work.

    Finally, FBB is not the only charitable foundation around, and if it’s prepared to support both religious and non-religious charities then what does it stand for? Foundation for Being Nice hardly has the same ring to it.

  • http://Q Kevin S.

    I thought it was pretty clear that they only support religious groups that give their aid in a secular fashion – i.e. no proselytizing. I’m pretty sure they aren’t giving any money to Catholic Charities, for example. It seems to me that people aren’t objecting to the cause the money is going towards, but the people behind the cause, and that strikes me as petty and, dare I say it, a little bigoted. There are plenty of theists and nontheists who work towards fighting poverty, hunger and disease solely because they think these things are worth fighting. There’s no reason they can’t work together on that.

  • http://twoangryvoices.blogspot.com Aegis

    I like how it’s been handled, to be honest. Making a blanket decision on whether or not to go ahead with helping faith-based charities would mean a significant fraction of the members were having choice taken from them, which is a habit we’re much better off leaving on the other side of the faith fence.

    A fine criticism of churches’ behaviour we’d be making, to turn around and handle charity the same way they do. This way, there’s room for thought and choice, and that’s much closer to what we’re all about as a movement.

  • Ibis

    @Kevin
    There’s no such thing as a religious group that gives their aid in a secular fashion. Even if it isn’t overt, the implicit message is that GOD is behind the help and he’s the one you should feel grateful to (in effect, the religion as a proxy). The cause is therefore ultimately religious. Yes, theists can help to fight poverty etc. and can work together with non-theists…in secular charities (MSF, Red Cross, Amnesty Intl., WaterCan, Right to Play etc.).

  • Claudia

    @Ibis and ewan, the point is that a plurality of FBB’s membership do not have strong issues either with donating to a religious organization in pursuit of worthy secular goals or giving the option for OTHER nonbelievers to do so.

    Refusing to be a member of an organization that gives its members even the option of allocating a certain amount of money to a carefully selected religious organization that does worthy work and does not prosletyze strikes me as impossibly hard-headed and intolerant.

    I personally am in the (bare) majority that have no problem donating to a religious charity as long as I have reasonable assurances that they are using the money for a worthy secular end and there is no equally capable fully secular charity filling that gap. I wouldn’t enjoy hearing about religious people not giving to my favorite charity, MSF, because it is fully secular, and I would be positively horrified if I heard that someone refused to participate in an organization because the mere option of donating to MSF existed.

    I hope to get FBB membership, along with MSF membership, as soon as I can be reasonably certain of a job (so hopefully soon).

  • Steve

    Not all of them are that bad. There are charitable or public service organizations that are funded by religious groups or were founded by them once upon a time that are truly harmless. Where you wouldn’t even know that they have a religious a background if it weren’t from their name or logo.

  • ewan

    It seems to me that people aren’t objecting to the cause the money is going towards, but the people behind the cause

    No, that’s not it. I have no objection to money going towards a secular charity (as exemplified by the ones that ibis mentions) that very likely has religious people working within it. The problem is with supporting charities with an explicitly religious identity for exactly the reasons that I tried to explain, and I think ibis clarified.

    And as for “they only support religious groups that give their aid in a secular fashion” the fine blog post points out that FBB is planning to support an organisation that seeks to “strengthen a person’s religious identity“. That’s not even slightly secular.

  • Flail

    This post combined with the post about religious people giving to charities regularly got me over the hump. I’m now giving monthly donations to FBB and a few other charities that I have admired for a while. Thanks!

  • http://call-me-rick.blogspot.com/ Rick

    It is sounding like Foundation Beyond Belief is compromising their goals by going for a 90% solution. This sounds a little like saying I’ll support an abstinence program 90% of the time and let the other 10% slide. If you can’t find enough non-theistic charities to support, then what is the point of FBB?

    There is no end to the numbers of people out there who can use a little help. If you can’t limit the redistribution to secular charities, then maybe you aren’t trying hard enough.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    I really don’t get how this is so misunderstood.

    This sounds a little like saying I’ll support an abstinence program 90% of the time and let the other 10% slide.

    Not a chance. If there’s a group of Christians whose sole (<— key word) purpose is to explain to churches that being gay is not a choice, I think we ought to HAVE THE OPTION to support that group. They are not the enemy. And even FBB members don't have to support them if they feel icky about it.

    I also simply don’t get FBB’s desire to support religious charities; the whole ‘as long as they don’t proselytize’ thing is a total cop-out. Any charity with an explicitly religious identity is working for the religious agenda simply by existing and being visible, in the same way that FBB furthers the atheist cause (or could do) by just getting on with being ‘good without god’.

    While you’re at it, why not just get rid of every religious friend you have? Wanna quit your job if there are religious people there? If there’s a group of Catholics who want to make sure the child-raping priests are put behind bars, should we not support them because it’s a group of Catholics?

    Guess what? In some cases, religious groups do a better job of handling a particular problem than we do. FBB members HAVE THE OPTION of supporting them.

    If you can’t find enough non-theistic charities to support, then what is the point of FBB?

    There are thousands of worthwhile charities. We can’t choose all of them. So we highlight a handful every quarter for our members. Along the way, we think it’s a good thing to show we are big enough to extend an olive branch to groups that may have a religious identity but whose good work is entirely secular. It’s one group out of ten. And if you don’t like it, you don’t have to give to that group. You HAVE THE OPTION.

    At no point is FBB supporting religion. Anyone who thinks so isn’t doing enough research. They’re just reacting without thinking.

  • http://www.youtube.com/aajoeyjo Joe Zamecki

    Hemant,

    Thank you for considering the feelings of folks on all sides of this issue. I like how you and the FBB is responsive to these concerns.

  • ethinethin

    “In some cases, religious groups do a better job of handling a particular problem than we do. FBB members HAVE THE OPTION of supporting them.”

    Indeed, they do, by donating directly to those charities.

    “And if you don’t like it, you don’t have to give to that group. You HAVE THE OPTION.”

    As well, if we feel the FBB is supporting values that go against our own, we have the option of simply not supporting the FBB at all.

  • ewan

    Not a chance. If there’s a group of Christians whose sole (<— key word) purpose is to explain to churches that being gay is not a choice, I think we ought to HAVE THE OPTION to support that group.

    Like SoulForce? Because that wasn’t even slightly a train wreck.

    we think it’s a good thing to show we are big enough to extend an olive branch to groups that may have a religious identity but whose good work is entirely secular.

    As I said, I’m really not sure that I accept that such a thing exists; it simply doesn’t help a secular agenda for ‘good works’ to continue to be seen as the domain of religious organisations. It does help the social standing of religion to the point that ‘good works’ are often brought up in arguments over the relative merits or evils of religion as a point in their favour. Is that really something that FBB should be strengthening?

    Even if you accept that it’s possible in principle to do what you suggest, recent experience shows that it’s a hard and risky thing to do, and there are plenty of less risky charities that don’t have an ethos fundamentally opposed to ours that could use the support.

    If nothing else, part of the purpose of FBB is surely to generate good PR for secularism; essentially ‘look at us, we can do charity too’. If there were no other downsides (and I think there are), supporting religious charities significantly muddies that message.

  • Ibis

    At no point is FBB supporting religion. Anyone who thinks so isn’t doing enough research. They’re just reacting without thinking.

    Sorry, Hemant. I >have thought about this and I’m not sure what research would convince me to change my mind. Perhaps a reasoned argument that would demonstrate why the benefit of supporting religion in this way outweighs the downside instead of being dismissed as a bigot* would be a start.

    This reminds me a bit of a situation we once had here. One of the big tobacco companies were the owners of the largest drugstore chain in Canada. This pharmacy had community health programmes and did outreach for seniors and stuff like that. Obviously, they also sold lots of medicine that benefited millions of people. They were nice. But all the profit went to the tobacco company whose aim was, in the end, to make money off of making people sicker (not to mention to get money off of the sick people who eventually had to buy medicine at the drugstore). That’s how I feel about charity doled out by religious organisations: no matter how benign it looks on the surface, it’s cancer underneath.

    * I’m not say you did that exactly but others did and you did imply something of the sort when you spoke about getting rid of religious friends or quitting one’s job because some religious people might be co-workers.

  • Rieux

    As someone who was involved (to an extent that surprised me) in the SoulForce “trainwreck,” I have to agree with Ibis, ethinethin, and others here: by providing donor money to religious organizations such as Interfaith Youth Core and Quaker Peace and Social Witness, the Foundation Beyond Belief is supporting religion. As such, I cannot support FBB.

    As some of us have been saying for a long time, no one needs FBB to give us an “option” to support, or not to support, religious organizations. That option has always existed, and it would remain absolutely regardless of any policy FBB could possibly adopt. As a result, the entire “option” bit seems to me a red herring that serves to obscure what is actually at issue here.

    I’m also not sure how relevant it is that 51.7% of the Foundation’s current donors think it’s a good thing for FBB to bankroll religion. Surely the more relevant group to poll is people who either do or might donate, depending upon various possible FBB policies. Those of us who are not FBB donors—for the very reasons being tested here—were not counted.

    Perhaps FBB giving money to religious groups would still receive majority or plurality support within the more relevant population, but the study being cited doesn’t show that.

    I appreciate the Foundation’s attempts to figure out a format under which a donor can donate to the Foundation without directly financially subsidizing religion. Hemant, Dale and company are trying hard at this, and that should not go unnoticed.

    But to many of us, the fact that FBB gives money to religious organizations unavoidably taints it as an organization. I think most of us here recognize the importance of the separation of church and state; surely it shouldn’t be so hard to understand why some of us are mystified by FBB’s difficulty in adopting (or seeing a need for… or even conceptualizing?) a separation of church and atheist organizations.

  • http://scientificallyminded.com Anthony

    I support this effort because it seems to shift the focus from “Us vs Them” to “Let’s help those who need it.” I don’t think it would do much good for atheists to only support secular charities and theists to support only theistic charities. If the goal here is not to support atheism, but to do good then I don’t think making a point not to support theistic groups is going to show that. The argument for secularism is solid, it doesn’t need to be injected into everything secularists do as a group.

  • Norea

    For those concerned that Quaker Peace & Social Witness is a religious group, AFAIK, they are under the care of the American Friends Service Committee, a fully secular organization (albeit started by Friends), who has just appointed themselves a new president.
    Shan Cretin speaks about the AFSC here.

    As you can tell from the video, Friends are very much about doing, rather than saying. The Religious Society of Friends has room for Friends of all religions, as well as Friends of no religion.

    Not to sound too much like an advertisement for the Quakers (I’m not a registered member, as there is no Meeting close to me), if you’re basing your decision on not giving to the Foundation because of the Quakers, you’re looking at the wrong group, IMO.

    Not wanting to give because of the SoulForce thing, I can understand. But QP&SW can hardly be called “religion” in the sense that word is applied to any other body of believers/followers of tradition. Just FYI.

  • Rieux

    But QP&SW can hardly be called “religion” in the sense that word is applied to any other body of believers/followers of tradition.

    No? “Any other body”? How about Unitarian Universalism? Humanist Judaism? Religious Humanism? Ethical Culture? The Society of Friends is not actually the only group that is arguably religious and arguably irreligious. Plus, the ambiguity (sometimes intentional, and sometimes dishonestly exploited) regarding what the word “religion” means is not exactly an argument in favor of atheists bankrolling religious organizations.

    Quakerism is religious for the same reason that Barack Obama is black: that is how both are widely understood and identified in our society.

    There is the historical angle, of course: the Society of Friends was founded on the central belief “that ordinary people could have a direct experience of the eternal Christ“—and it has never abandoned that idea, though it’s no longer foundational.

    Generations later, a small proportion of Quakers have taken the religion in nontheistic directions its founders would never have been comfortable with—but more importantly, almost no one in the English-speaking world is aware of that. Plenty of people in our society may be aware that Quakers are an atypical kind of Christians, but effectively no one knows that Quakers can be atheists.

    The Society calls itself “Religious“; it is perceived as religious; the only basis for concluding otherwise is based on a hairsplitting semantic argument that takes into account institutional data that almost no one knows.

    In that context, the notion that FBB bankrolling an explicitly Quaker charity is somehow not FBB supporting religion just doesn’t make sense.

  • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

    While you’re at it, why not just get rid of every religious friend you have?

    Umm.. Many of us do, Hemant. I certainly could not be friends with somebody who was religious in any of my own dealings with them. Similarly, I won’t give to an organization that knowingly gives money to any religious organizations.

    For this reason, I won’t be joining FBB. If you support religious organizations, then I want nothing to do with it.

  • ethinethin

    @Hemant
    “While you’re at it, why not just get rid of every religious friend you have?”

    To me, that comes across as a non-sequitur. I would never suggest that atheists should not support secular charities that have religious people as members. There are many great secular charities that have many religious people as members. However, I am certainly opposed to supporting any explicitly religious charity and the FBB doesn’t seem to share that opposition.

    It was the same situation a few months ago when Hemant’s Christian friend was organizing a trip to bring aid to Haiti. He made a post about it and got atheists to donate to her in droves with the call that “let’s show theists we can donate more than them!” And then it turned out that a big part of her previous trip involved praying and proselytizing and spreading the good news. In other words, glorifying God with atheist money.

    @Rieux
    ” Surely the more relevant group to poll is people who either do or might donate, depending upon various possible FBB policies. Those of us who are not FBB donors—for the very reasons being tested here—were not counted.”

    Good point. Following the SoulForce oversight, I am unlikely to become a member of FBB. I will continue to make donations directly to secular charities.

  • Kelly

    I don’t understand this brouhaha. I don’t have a problem with FBB supporting carefully selected religious charities. I might or might not contribute to those charities; I’ll decide that on a case-by-case basis. But I do think all this argument against FBB supporting religious charities makes atheists look awfully petty and narrow-minded.

  • ewan

    To me, that comes across as a non-sequitur.

    Indeed. There’s a difference between:

    - Wanna quit your job if there are religious people there?

    and

    - Wanna quit your job at a church.

    An organisation with religious people in it, and a religious organisation, are not equivalent things.

  • Kamaka

    Hemant, I am understanding your position here. I might even call it laudable. The “challenge gap”, on it’s surface, seems a fine compromise.

    But, dammit, you are one of the people calling for atheists to come out of the closet. OK, I came out of the closet! (After 40+ years of keeping my mouth shut.)

    I’m sorely disappointed that an organization called “Foundation Beyond Belief” is not so beyond belief after all. Let the religious charities get their money from the religious hordes. No matter how wonderful their work, the “you need god to be good” presupposition is a vile insult to atheists, and indeed, all of humanity.

    But to many of us, the fact that FBB gives money to religious organizations unavoidably taints it as an organization.

    Rieux calls it. The religionists will not get a dime of my hard-earned cash if I can possibly help it. And it costs more than a dime for a committee to meet and discuss which religious groups are secular enough to merit consideration for receiving funds.

    There are thousands of worthwhile charities.

    Damn straight, Hemant. And I want to give my cash to an organisation that is *out*, by and for atheists and secularists.

    The religionists? Let them tear down their temples and sell the bricks and the gold to finance their “good works”.

  • Meanie

    I am not a “member” of FBB, but recently made a donation. Why did I make a donation to FBB? Because I wanted to donate to something secular, non-religious, and didn’t want to do my own footwork to find a suitable charity. FBB made it easy to donate with a clear conscience. In the future, I guess I’ll do my own footwork.

  • Kamaka

    @ Kelly

    But I do think all this argument against FBB supporting religious charities makes atheists look awfully petty and narrow-minded.

    Just lately, I had a go round on this site with a commenter who played the “without god..Hitler” card, who stated that without “objective morality” child rape might be acceptable.

    This is the outcome of the presupposition that one “needs god to be good”. This presupposition underlies all religion and all religious charity. It is a world-view that is vile and evil (and self-destructive). I will have no part in it.

  • Ibis

    I think most religion is inherently harmful to humanity and the planet. Therefore, I choose not to support any religious organisation with my donations. FBB is a religious organisation since they are giving money to promote religion. If refusing to condone that activity makes me petty, so be it. I’d rather be on the side of those who do good in the world without the evil, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-scientific baggage.

  • stogoe

    (as long as they’re not proselytizing while they do it).

    Yeah, that’s never going to happen, and the rest of your post describing IFYC shows exacctly why it’ll never happen. Ibis and ewan have it exactly right on this one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 Donna Hamel (muggle)

    No thanks. And don’t give anything in my name either, god fucking damn it. I don’t want my name used for any charity that helps promote religion by financially supporting religious charity. I’m putting you on notice as a board member, Hemant, to refuse anything in my name. Either you can respect my wishes on that or not but I’m stating publically here and now that I do not support this organization despite being excited about it when you first introduced it on this blog.

    Kamanka really makes a great point btw about the hypocricy of asking people to come out while you support religion in this fashion.

    Basically I agree with ibis and Ewan on this one. Just that they do their work in the name of god or a religion or souls is prostelyzation.

    While you’re at it, why not just get rid of every religious friend you have? Wanna quit your job if there are religious people there? If there’s a group of Catholics who want to make sure the child-raping priests are put behind bars, should we not support them because it’s a group of Catholics.

    Hemant, that’s a strawman. You’re comparing apples to oranges. Having theist friends who know you disagree with them is hardly supporting a religion. Give a religious group dollars is. As Ewan said, FBB is being lazy because there are enough secular and nonreligious charities out there if you take the time to seek them out. Name one — just one thing — a religious charity is doing that can’t be done secularly. What FBB should be doing is seeking out secular and Atheist charities and helping them grow so they can be as effective as the huge Christian charities and those in need and those who want to help those in need have another choice in true competition to the Christians running everything.

    At no point is FBB supporting religion. Anyone who thinks so isn’t doing enough research. They’re just reacting without thinking.

    You are every time you give a religious entity one red cent. No, you are the ones who are reacting without thinking. You are being lazy. Scale aside, name me one religious charity you can’t find a secular group doing. I’ll search the goddamned internet for you and try to find a secular one. Scale considered, you should be helping small secular groups grow and become just as large.

    I’m also not sure how relevant it is that 51.7% of the Foundation’s current donors think it’s a good thing for FBB to bankroll religion. Surely the more relevant group to poll is people who either do or might donate, depending upon various possible FBB policies. Those of us who are not FBB donors—for the very reasons being tested here—were not counted.

    I was about to donate (had decided that I couldn’t sign up for a membership as I had applied for disability retirement) but was about to send off a one-time donation and add further donations as my income allowed when the Soulforce fiasco hit. I gave my money elsewhere. Now I am retired and can’t afford unless the Social Security Disability is also granted then maybe $10 or $20 a month at least in months where the heating bills or low or non-existent. That’s money that FBB didn’t get and money they won’t because I flat out don’t trust them as a result of that.

    I thought how cool that I can give in the name of Atheism. Now I can’t and, yes, Hemant, I’m pissed about it. But no one’s asking me how or why they aren’t getting my charitable dollars. They don’t even seem to be listening. Not if they think this is an acceptable solution. Supporting them, even if I designate no dollars to religious organization (and I’d have to trust them not to and aren’t the portion that go to administrative costs enabling that), means I’m supporting their actions and their actions are speaking louder than words. They are conceding charity to religion merely by claiming they can’t be effective without including religious charities.

    I am disappointed that this is what they are about.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    I’m positive that there are plenty of religious charities out there doing good secular work. I used to be a field-worker on an international development project, and I saw religious charities in the field doing good work and helping people without prejudice.

    But I still don’t want to donate money to them. Other people can support them; that’s fine. As a nonbeliever, I want my money to go to organizations that are completely secular, and frankly, I’m baffled as to why the Foundation Beyond Belief chose to support religious organizations in the first place. I’m glad that they’re now giving their donors the option of not supporting religious charities, but I still find this situation so strange. Wasn’t the point that secular people could come together and support fully secular causes? Is it so unreasonable to want your money to go only to nonreligious organizations?

    Very odd situation.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    @Muggle —

    No thanks. And don’t give anything in my name either, god fucking damn it. I don’t want my name used for any charity that helps promote religion by financially supporting religious charity. I’m putting you on notice as a board member, Hemant, to refuse anything in my name. Either you can respect my wishes on that or not but I’m stating publically here and now that I do not support this organization despite being excited about it when you first introduced it on this blog.

    And you have a nice day, too :)

    No one’s using your name for anything. If you didn’t choose to give that category funding, it won’t be used there. Simple as that.

    Name one — just one thing — a religious charity is doing that can’t be done secularly.

    Teaching churches that being gay is not a choice and they need to treat gay people better. Sure, secular groups do that, but none of them have the type of influence that a Christianity-based group would have.

    If you want to give in the name of atheism, there will be an opportunity for you in the future and it won’t be via FBB. But if you reconsider, you know where to find us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 Donna Hamel (muggle)

    Hemant, I give to charity whenever I can but, no, I won’t be reconsidering. With all due respect, I have no faith that FBB won’t support religion. I am hugely disappointed. I mean you no disrespect but I feel this disrespects everyone you advertised it as an Atheist charity to. I was really excited about it when you first promoted it on the blog.

    Teaching churches anything wasn’t really what I was thinking of and kind of doesn’t really count as charity if you ask me. That seems extremely futile at best and, of course, you can’t get churches to listen to nonbelievers. I think that’s kind of counterproductive since churches are the problem to begin with when it comes to the discrimination gays feel. Kind of like trying to teach the Catholic church to respect a woman’s right to choose. And, yes, I know there’s a group called Catholics for Choice. Go support them. Without my money.

  • ewan

    This argument does feel a lot like a health charity supporting tobacco companies because no-one else can make low tar cigarettes.

    Simply pushing a less bad form of badness shouldn’t be enough to garner anyone an endorsement or financial support, especially when there are so many other groups around doing things that are actually good.

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  • Ibis

    This thread is kind of old, but I have yet another analogy I’d like to share. Here in Ontario (and elsewhere in Canada), due to some constitutional hangover that has to do with making public education available to the French settlers without requiring them to attend Protestant schools during the Confederation period, we have two (actually four when one counts the Francophone duplicates in some districts) public school systems: one secular (previously Protestant, but now sans religion/multicultural), the other Catholic. When a person pays municipal taxes, they mark which school board they wish to support. The amount each school board gets is then topped up by the general taxes collected by the province, but let’s ignore that for a moment. Even if I can choose not to have my money go to the Catholic school board, I’d rather that me and other taxpayers didn’t have the option at all. I’d rather that all money go to a single secular system, so that no public education in the province was doled out with a religious agenda, however innocuous.* In fact, I’d rather that the government mandated that no religious indoctrination in schools was allowed at all, even in private schools. Ideally, charity, just like fundamental education, should be dogma-free.

    In the case of schools, the only way to make a real choice is to lobby the government to change the law. I’m not sure lobbying FBB is worth the effort.

    *at several points in time growing up, I went to Catholic schools in different areas of the country, and they were all pretty lukewarm in terms of preaching and praying, thank goodness.


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