Helping Out an Injured Atheist

I’m in Nebraska this weekend for the 2011 Midwest Humanist and Freethought Conference and one of the locals I’ve had a chance to meet is Ray Morehead. I heard about Ray a couple weeks ago when another local atheist, Sarah, wrote to me about him. She told me his story and it was pretty devastating, so I wanted to share it with all of you.

Ray and his wife are both members of a local softball team named the Omaha Atheists. Earlier this year, Ray slid into second base and suffered a pretty horrible injury. Sarah writes in an email:

His leg was broken in several places, his ankle was shattered and his foot was broken as well. He required major surgery, has been ordered to bear no weight on his leg and must undergo physical therapy. At some point, he may require additional surgery as well.

The Moreheads run their own business, and could not afford the health insurance premiums required from the individual market. They were hoping to hire an additional person within the next year in order to qualify for group insurance, but now everything is on hold. The costs that they have incurred without insurance have already been more than I can imagine trying to pay.

The family is trying to raise $15,000 in order to cover mortgage and utilities for about six months while they pay off the medical bills. Ray can’t work due to his injury so the family (they have four kids) is having some trouble making ends meet. Ray’s wife used to belong to a church and some friends from there have chipped in (and offered prayers), but they still have a long way to go. The local atheist community has done a few fundraisers, too.

Normally, when I receive emails like this — I get a bunch of them lately — I don’t pay all that much attention to them… but I’ve had the chance to meet Ray in person now, and I’ve heard from a number of his friends. These are good people, and they could use the help.

If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so at this site — there are more details about the situation there, too. There’s also a Facebook page with updates. I don’t know if we can raise the entire amount, but any little bit helps.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Amcharming

    Interesting that a ad for Christian singles showed up on your site lol…

    • http://www.facebook.com/linda.gulley Linda Stout Gulley

      Those are just due to key words, like “Christian” being on this site.  They don’t pick which ads show up.

      “Christian? Single? Maybe God WANTS you be lonely!”

  • Fredericka

    Lots of luck; as I’m sure you know, there’s a charity gap between atheists and Christians. Atheists are quite stingy with their money, no matter how grave the need. Too bad these folks chose the wrong team

    • http://www.facebook.com/keithacollyer Keith Collyer

      Proof?

    • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com/ Tea Cosy

      Citation needed. Also, I’ve seen atheists showing incredible generosity several times on this blog alone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/linda.gulley Linda Stout Gulley

      Christians are quite ignorant with their comments, no matter how unfounded their beliefs are.  Too bad we take action instead of pretending to help with praying to an imaginary sky daddy.  Troll MUCH?

    • Anonymous

      You’re just another liar for Jesus.

      Oh and another thing: I would suspect that most atheists in the US support universal healthcare paid for by taxes so this kind of crap wouldn’t happen, while the Christians would rather pay insurance company profits. That’s not just stingy, that’s evil.

    • Anonymous

      You’re just another liar for Jesus.

      Oh and another thing: I would suspect that most atheists in the US support universal healthcare paid for by taxes so this kind of crap wouldn’t happen, while the Christians would rather pay insurance company profits. That’s not just stingy, that’s evil.

      • Amcharming

        That’s because Christians confuse universal health care with religious universalism ;)

    • Guest5

      Matt 6:2
      Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    • Laura

      I did a bit of Googling and I found one example of a study looking at the link between religiosity and charitable giving. The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey was conducted in 2000. The study found that religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money, and 23 percentage points more likely to volunteer.

      Criticisms of this study that I can think of are that it was a self report study, and therefore not necessarily representative of reality. Also, it’s comparing religious people who the study defines as attending religious services every week or more often, with people who self identify as non religious or only attend services occasionally. The opposite of those who attend services regularly are not, in my opinion, those who just don’t go. It may be interesting to compare these people with a group of people actively involved in a secular organisation such as the ACA, as then it could be established whether it’s the actual belief causing the increase in charity, or being a part of an organisation that
      promotes charitable acts.

      The study is here if anyone’s interested: 
      http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/6577

      • Laura

        Oops, the formatting on my comment seems to have gone a bit crazy. Never mind. 

      • Anonymous

        Also, studies like this don’t take into account that giving church “charities” money is often just giving money to build more churches or proselytize, or, at worst, buying the preacher a new condo or Lexus. And volunteering? Volunteering to hand out bibles or lead prayer circles. I don’t know how a good study would control for all of these variables.

    • Anonymous

      Fredericka, I’m sure that you did your Christian duty and donated a large sum to help out.  Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Maybe you could get your church to drum up support.  Wouldn’t that be a great way to demonstrate how good and charitable Christians are?

      Consider that a challenge to put your money where your mouth is.

      • Fredericka

        Hi hoverFrog, I agree that in theory I should send these people money, but perhaps you have heard the jingle,

        ‘To live above with saints in love,
        Ah, that will sure be glory!
        To live below with saints we know –
        Well, that’s another story.’

        Practice may fall short of theory.

        • Anonymous

          Morality is judged by actions, not silly jingles.  Here is someone in need.  You can choose to help them or not.  You’ve clearly chosen to not help.

          I can’t decide if you’re a troll who just gets off on making snide little comments putting others down for the good that they try to do or if you’re some kind of Poe who has set out to make Christians who genuinely want to help others look bad. 

          • Parse

            I say troll (if she were a Poe, she’d have given some tell by now); but in either case, she’s still not worth putting any real effort into responding to.

            • Fredericka

              Ever the same from the atheist garbage-bin: name-calling and evasion.

              • Anonymous

                Name calling like “Atheists are quite stingy with their money, no matter how grave the need” and “atheist garbage-bin”.  May I suggest that you look to the Scriptures that you give so much importance to and read Matthew 7:3-5.  That is assuming that you are genuine.

                • Parse

                  I was intentionally not responding to the troll.  She’s doing a fantastic job of making herself look stupid all by herself; she doesn’t need our help.

          • Fredericka

            Hi hoverFrog, how do you know that they want my help, they certainly haven’t asked for it. If you don’t like snide comments, why make them?

            • Anonymous

              Beggars can’t be choosers.  You may have heard this phrase.  It means that someone in need isn’t in a position to reject help.  You do understand that this blog post is a general call for help, don’t you?  It is targeted at a group of people who share a lack of belief in gods but there are believers here to.  I’m sure that those with spare cash and a strong moral framework would be happy to contribute.

  • Judith Bandsma

    Atheists are ‘stingy’ with their money when asked to donate to ‘charities’ that will require church attendance for help or will go to pay for bibles instead of food or housing, yes. We prefer our money to go to where it will actually provide help, not just things like prayers.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    You guys, please don’t feed the troll.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    (ahem) Back on topic, I chipped in what I can. I hope he gets well soon, does not have pain, and regains all his ability. 

  • Anonymous

    So, I’m Ray’s wife from the above post. First of all, THANK YOU Hemant, for posting this. I want to stress that we don’t think Atheists are stingy. Our experience throughout this nightmare is exactly the opposite. The vast majority of our friends, most unreligious and a few religious, have done SO much to help us get through this, it was THEIR suggestions and insistance that the blogosphere grab it and try to help out. It’s tough not belonging to a church, that’s true. And since Atheists are skeptical by nature we understand (and appreciate) the tendency to be REALLY sure there’s a need before any bandwagon jumping occurs.

    But Hemant wouldn’t have known about this unless so many of our friends hadn’t contacted him asking for help. We’ve pretty much exhausted our local resources and in order to reach our goals we’re having to turn to a bigger venue. This was a MUCH needed boost, we just jumped $2,000 in ONE DAY…unreal. The idea that we *might* reach our fundraising goal (which is only a fraction of the total expenses, please understand) is better than anything we could’ve hoped for. It’s everyone’s generosity making this happen. There’s no stingyness about it, religious or not. So thank you, to everyone who donated and especially to Hemant for putting it out there.

    There’s a real possibility we’ll make it through this intact if we can reach the fundraising goal. Please consider joining the Facebook page, as well as sharing this link on your wall. We were a part of the Damon fundraiser, and we know how well everyone can mobilize when the need is there. ♥

    • Anonymous Atheist

      And wow, this guy’s a great boost all by himself, whoever he is: “TOP DONOR: Joe Silva gave $1,000.00 ” today. :D

      Best wishes.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so glad Hemant was able to meet Ray and pick up his cause. This family has been through more than the details they are sharing. I met Sarah (Ray’s wife) a few months ago and she’s super-nice.  So glad to see them getting a boost!  They are working so hard to put this behind them.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Richard, we really appreciate it. Everything makes a huge difference. We were pointed to GiveForward by our hospital, once they saw our situation and realized what dire straits we were really facing. They really are doing a great job lowering the outrageous costs as much as they can, and yes…they’re a Catholic hospital. We’ve done everything they recommend to do to raise funds on a private level, and after about six weeks of a great fundraising through GiveForward things have petered out quite a bit. If we didn’t get this out to the masses we’d be pretty much done, with several months of rehab before he’s back to full time work. So thank you for taking the time to donate, for taking the time to comment, and for caring enough to do both. Please consider sharing this page on your Facebook to help get the word out. We really appreciate everyone’s kind words and efforts.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Jenny_wren…we’ve met a lot of wonderful people in the last several months, so the pseudonym isn’t ringing a bell, but I’m tickled you’ll post such kind words. Maybe we’ll run into each other at a bookstore coffee house sometime :) Thank you!!

  • MaddieLynn

    I must admit I am disappointed to hear that Hemant doesn’t post needs like these unless he meets the person…

    • Anonymous

      He didn’t meet Damon and he posted theirs. I think the issue is he gets a lot of requests and honoring them all isn’t logistical. I can understand needing to verify the situation before sending out appeals to the masses for help, especially when you’re talking large sums of money. It was lucky timing that he happened to be in our town a few weeks after he was contacted about our situation. Regardless, it meant a lot to us that he’s taken the time to chat with us and meet some of our kiddos when he’s busy working a conference. Much appreciated and very cool.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      It’s more that I want to make sure the emails are legit before I post something. Also, I was gone for a week and busy this past week so it turned out when I finally had a chance to post something, it was the weekend of a conference at which Ray was also there :)

  • Anonymous

    I for one think that it is truly awful that you don’t have basic healthcare to treat something as mundane as a broken leg (even if it is badly broken).  What happens if he can’t raise the money?  He loses his business, his home and the use of his leg? He’s not at fault here and doesn’t deserve to suffer for an accident.

  • Anonymous

    We’ve had over 30 donations in less than 24 hours and we’re almost to our halfway mark. This is unbelievably awesome! We couldn’t have hoped for a better boost, please take a few minutes to share this page on Facebook and get it out to your network. Thank you everyone for your support and generosity!!

  • Stefan

    After I donated the total amount raised went to $6666. Harhar! :D


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