Why Are They Rejecting Atheist Generosity?

***Update***: The American Cancer Society has responded to this post.

This isn’t necessarily a story of discrimination against atheists. But I find it hard to believe a church group would have been treated the same way… hear me out and let me know if you feel the same way.

To preface the story, I’m reminded of Kiva, the microlending website. On that site, individuals can loan out a relatively small amount of money, say $25, to a person who really needs it. By gathering a couple hundred dollars or so via small loans, many people around the world can get the capital they need to get their “businesses” off the ground. It might even help them get out of poverty. (Ideally, they pay back the loan, allowing you to reloan the money to somebody else.)

That’s a powerful project. But one way Kiva encourages even more people to loan money is by allowing them to be part of a larger group. Like the group called “Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious.” As I write this, the 17,000+ members of that group have loaned out more money than any other group out there — nearly $5,000,000. (The Kiva Christians are in second place by a mile.)

Now back to the current story.

A couple months ago, philanthropist Todd Stiefel came to the Foundation Beyond Belief board (which I’m on) with an excellent idea.

Every year, the American Cancer Society sponsors an international event called Relay For Life. While details vary from location to location, the Relay is basically an event in which teams walk for 12 or 24 hours straight (or take turns doing it, hence “relay”). I’ve participated in Relay For Life three times, as a student and as a teacher (all the events took place at the high school I was at). Someone in my group would bring a tent and we would “camp” overnight around the school’s football field while my friends and I took turns walking around the track. It’s an incredible event, inspirational and fun for everyone. More importantly, all the donations go to a worthy cause.

As it turns out, your local group can also be part of a National Team… which is perfect if you’d like to help the cause with a huge group of people who don’t live in the same area.

So, Todd said, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get atheists around the world to participate in their local Relays — but under the umbrella of the Foundation Beyond Belief?

What a brilliant idea. Can you imagine the headlines if a group of atheists, worldwide, raised more money for cancer research than any other National Team?!

To sweeten the deal, Todd made another proposal: His family would contribute up to $250,000 in matching funds! So, whatever amount your local group raised (under the FBB National Team banner), Todd would double that donation up to a quarter-million dollars.

(Obviously, running this endeavor requires a lot of time and effort. So Todd also pledged an additional amount of money to FBB for operational support so one of our interns could manage this whole shindig.)

What would we need to make this happen? Simple. The American Cancer Society would just have to list “Foundation Beyond Belief” as one of their National Teams so that local groups could go to the drop-down menu and sign up “under” that FBB banner.

Normally, for a National Team to be listed in the menu, you must have had 50 local groups participate the previous year. We didn’t have that. But Todd was basically going to help raise $500,000 for the ACS — why on earth would they refuse to list us?

You can see where this is going…

So, back in July, Todd got in touch with one of the people who runs Relay For Life — I’m going to call him “Bob” — and explained what he wanted to do. Bob said this shouldn’t be a problem — not only could we have the team, the ACS would take care of everything on their end while Todd went out of town for a couple weeks. When Todd returned, though, he hadn’t heard back from Bob. Todd sent an email asking Bob how things were proceeding. Another two weeks passed without a response. No phone call. No email. Nothing. Todd called them again and left a message expressing his concerns about their lack of responsiveness, asking if we should look to partner elsewhere. Two more weeks passed without response.

Think about that for a second. You work for a non-profit organization and a donor calls to say they essentially want to hand you half a million dollars. What do you do? You get back to that person as-soon-as-goddamn-possible. But the ACS didn’t respond for over a month…

Keep in mind, by the way, that Todd’s local group, the Triangle Freethought Society, raised over $23,000 during Relay For Life last year, more money than any other local group. This was someone who believed in what Relay For Life was doing and wanted to further the American Cancer Society’s cause. It’s a non-profit’s dream come true.

Finally, Todd heard back from someone. But it wasn’t from the national office. It was from a local Relay For Life leader in Raleigh, North Carolina, who got in touch with Todd, only coincidentally while all this stuff was going down, simply to meet him in person and thank him for his team’s efforts last year. Todd arranged to meet with her — and also mentioned how he was having some difficulties getting through to the ACS. He told her what had happened since he first contacted Bob. The lady was appalled and told Todd she’d get to the bottom of this.

Finally, after all this time, Bob sent an email to Todd. Todd asked why he hadn’t heard from him and inquired whether or not he should take his money elsewhere.

Bob explained the situation like this: The Relay for Life website was in the process of getting a major update, and some things with the organization were changing. For example — surprise! — they’re no longer allowing National Teams that are “non-corporate”… because of limited resources, the ACS decided to stop putting effort into non-corporate teams. So they had to decline the Foundation Beyond Belief group. Bob added that FBB teams were welcome to participate in events locally, but they would not be treated as a unified group.

Wait, says Todd. Let me get this straight. You don’t have enough resources to allocate to non-corporate groups… even when it might bring in $500,000?! You don’t need additional staff. You don’t need a new website. You just need to write one line of code in the drop-down menu!

(I’ll take a moment here, as someone who has worked with non-profit groups, to say that if a staffer ignored an offer of $500,000 from a donor because it involved 20 seconds of writing some code, that person would be fired on the spot.)

It seemed like all hope was lost. But Todd got in touch with Bob one more time because he had a few questions.

Their conversation happened earlier this week

Based on what I know of the story, here’s my imagined, scripted version of how the conversation went.

Todd: You said we couldn’t have a non-corporate National Team?

Bob: Correct.

Todd: Well, since Foundation Beyond Belief is a 501(c)(3) corporation, can we be part of the Corporate Team program?

Bob: No.

Todd: Why?

Bob: You don’t meet the criteria.

Todd: What criteria?

Bob: You’re not a business.

Todd: So? How does it hurt you to have a non-business corporate National Team?

Bob: Umm… It’s our decision. We’re only going to have corporate partners.

Todd: Ok, well, what about the Matching Challenge?

Bob: If you want to give us money, that’d be fine.

Todd: Fine?… Just fine? $500,000 is just FINE!?

Bob: Yes. But we won’t be able to help you track the money your local teams collect.

Todd: … even though you track the money for all the local groups anyway?

Bob: Correct.

Todd: Well, forget the corporate program. I see that you also allow National Youth Partners?

Bob: Indeed! In fact, we’re looking forward to accelerating* that program! (*That’s the word Bob used.)

Todd: Well, can we start a National Youth Partner team for the Secular Student Alliance or CFI – On Campus? Between them, they have hundreds of chapters.

Bob: No…

Todd: Why not?

Bob: We’re not set up that way. In fact, we’re going to be de-emphasizing our National Youth Partners program when we revamp our website. Right….. NOW!

Todd: But I’m looking at the drop-down menu on your revamped website. Sigma Alpha Lambda is one of your National Youth Partners and you list them under the banner of National Teams:

Bob: Umm… we haven’t updated that part of the site yet.

Todd: Didn’t you just update everything on your site last week?

To summarize everything, Todd and Foundation Beyond Belief are able to run local teams and we can still do the Matching Challenge, but the American Cancer Society won’t recognize us nationally.

Todd did ask very bluntly if this was a publicity issue, about the ACS having a connection to a group of atheists. Bob insisted that wasn’t the case — in fact, they had supported LGBT teams in the past without hesitation.

So that’s where we’re at.

Todd’s frustrated. Those of us at the Foundation Beyond Belief are frustrated. The only people who don’t seem fazed by this are the people at the ACS.

It seems like they’d rather give up $500,000 because it’s raised by atheists… than do a minimal amount of work on their end, or make an exception that could benefit so many people, and give us a National Team to make it easier to mobilize our community to hit that goal.

For what it’s worth, the ACS did agree to provide support to our intern to help get teams organized and they offered to provide some promotion of the Matching Challenge… but it’s a far cry from what could have been. I have to wonder if a donor representing a large national Christian group would have been treated the same way.

I don’t know if anyone reading this has a connection to the ACS or Relay For Life, but I’d love to hear their response to this.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeCascio Joe Cascio

    Non-profits can be frustrating to deal with. They seem to do incredibly stupid things for no apparent reason, like this. Of course, we might also suspect it has something to do with a non-religious organization, too.

    • Tom

      To be fair, plenty of for-profits seem to do incredibly stupid things for no apparent reason as well.  I suspect it’s somewhat more noticable in non-profits, however, for the following reason:  a lot of the time when you deal with a for-profit, you’re just purchasing a product from them, and you don’t necessarily have to bother about the internal processes of the company as long as the product works (and one can think of any number of problems that arise because of this, environmental damage and labour exploitation being the most obvious); with a non-profit, the internal processes much more frequently are the product you’re purchasing, so they get a lot more scrutiny.

  • http://profiles.google.com/yuzuriha Sabrina Harris

    Wow. Pretty pathetic behaviour from people representing a charity. There’s definitely more to this than not meeting criteria, updating or changing websites etc.

  • andrew

    WTf is this shit!

  • Simon

    Does Bob have a boss? Perhaps the higher ups should become involved.

    • Mr Ed

      Bob seem to be on board at the start then fell of the face of the earth, I’m guessing that Bob has been put in the uncomfortable position by higher ups.  This is why he isn’t returning calls and hanging up when things get too close to the point, he is being told to do something that he know is wrong and he is still trying to protect the charity from managements stupidity so that leaves him little room to talk.

      -Not Bob

      • Bobs boss

        Hey Bob, 

        How’s it going.  Sorry about putting you on the line like that, but my wife hates atheists, they never put anything in the damn church donation plate.

        -Not Bob’s boss

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=569751370 Julie Shasta ‘Scathach’ MacTir

    This is incredible. I sincerely hope this story goes viral.

  • TheBlackCat

    Seriously, is this guy an idiot?  Can’t he see a leading question?  If you are going to lie, at least have enough brains to know where someone would be going with a question like that.

  • http://homschlr4ever-loveandlunchmoney.com Carol

    I am amazed and appalled at the ACS.  You can bet I am going to share this link on my FaceBook page so even more people are aware.  Hopefully enough public outrage will make some positive changes.  Maybe the Foundation can find another non profit that would be more hospitable to the idea of a half million dollars!!  Seriously??

  • Parse

    Y’know, if Bob wanted a tasteful way to reject FBB’s money, he could have  said something about the administration/board/whatever not allowing him to bend the rules for this one group, as then every other religious group who saw that would want the same treatment.  It would have been bad to renege on the original verbal agreement, but better than the runaround they’re pulling now. 

    I suspect the real reason is that they’re afraid that having ‘Foundation Beyond Belief’ listed as a national group would drive off more donors than FBB would bring in.

    • http://thefinitemonkey.myopenid.com/ TFM

      Parse, your suspicion sounds likely to me, too.  I’m not saying it would excuse the policy, but while Hemant, in the OP, daydreams about how great it would be if an FBB team raised the most money – just think of the headlines! – the organization can reasonably be expected to consider the possible downside of that kind of response from and publicity for FBB.  $500K from a team there’s no reasonable expectation of controversy over would be a fantastic thing, so idiotic to turn away.  $500K from a team that many donors would object to being “affiliated”with (through supporting the same charity) could cost more than $500K in future donations, so turning that down perpetuates an undeserved stigma, but at least makes fiscal sense from their perspective.  They can’t *say* that’s the reason, and I’m only speculating, but it makes more sense to me than, “Atheists are yucky, we don’t want their money.”  Their given reasons, of course, remain evasive B.S no matter what.

  • Anonymous

    I think they just pissed off a lot of people. We’ll see what happens.

  • Anonymous

    Give the money to someone else.  There are plenty of other charities who would jump at the chance of having $500k and would be more than willing to invest in systems that support people giving money.  If ASC are this inefficient in attracting charitable donations then it doesn’t bode well that they would distribute the money given efficiently.  I wouldn’t want to give money to a charity that wastes it on bad planning and poor efficiency, not when someone else can benefit from it.

    • Anonymous

      This.  ACS is a completely worthy cause and it is sad that they are basically refusing this huge sum of money.  But honestly, I would not participate now if you paid me.  I want my money to go to an organization that doesn’t care what imaginary friend I have or don’t have and is not afraid to take my money under whatever umbrella I chose to supply it.

      • Elliott776

        It sounded like they just refusing to credit the FBB with the donation, not refusing the donation. Which still sucks.

    • Anonymous

      Might I suggest Planned Parenthood? They do cancer screenings and such.

  • Nick Andrew

    Whether it’s incompetence or politics driving this, ACS doesn’t deserve your half-million. Suggest you find some other project to put the money into, like something benefiting education or giving a helping hand to poor people.

  • http://thefloatinglantern.wordpress.com/ Tim Martin

    I’d say the discrimination here is blatant. It’s time to find another way to create good publicity for atheists, and while we’re at it, create *bad* publicity for ACS.

    • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

      The ACS generally does good stuff. I don’t think going out of one’s way to create bad publicity for them is a really productive. 

      If it could get them to agree to actually do this then it would be helpful (it wouldn’t be the first time that a nonprofit did something stupid against their own goals that then backpedaled when it got publicly shamed) but having a goal of giving them bad publicity seems like not an optimal approach. 

      • Annie

        Do a little research on the ACS… you will be surprised (and not in a pleasant way).  Embezzlement.  Fraud.  Deputy CEO makes over a million a year. They certainly have an interesting history.  And this is coming from someone who has raised tons of money for them in the past.

        As the parent of a pediatric cancer survivor, I can’t tell you how tiring it is to see the ACS plaster photos of bald kids all over the place, but then give next to nothing to pediatric research (I can’t remember the exact amount, but it is less than 1%).

        Look at Curesearch, Hemant!  They specifically raise money to fund research for COG (Children’s Oncology Group).  I’m starting to get involved with them… they have Kickball tournaments!  And, they seem to be an honest organization. 

        • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

          Huh. That’s a strong argument that atheists should just say “screw you” to ACS and go donate to Curesearch instead. 

      • http://thefloatinglantern.wordpress.com/ Tim Martin

        “it wouldn’t be the first time that a nonprofit did something stupid
        against their own goals that then backpedaled when it got publicly
        shamed”

        Yeah… that’s pretty much what I’m going for. Notice how that’s a positive outcome?

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    Good information to know. I was going to have my firm participate in the October fund drive, but instead I’m going to contact them and send them a link to this post.

  • http://antigold.myopenid.com/ Jude

    This is a fairly useless charity anyway.  There are many other charities that are more deserving.  As an agoraphobic, I exercise in the dark.  Imagine my surprise this summer to notice all the Football Field lights on at 4 a.m.–I walked over there and people were wandering around the track, together, walking slowly to blaring music, with all kinds of booths set up to feed and water them, and tents where they could sleep.  It was surreal.  I suppose I’m glad that they found a fundraising method that works.  On the other hand, our high school band had some dead and dying instruments.  We put a wish list on our website last year with an appeal for $17,000.  I also worked on writing grants, one of which is still out there.  Three days ago, someone found our website and is giving us the $17,000.  If all we want is publicity as atheists, to prove somehow that we’re good guys–well, who cares about that either?  I don’t really care if our anonymous donor is a believing meat-eater (odds are that he/she is).  I just care that we, a worthy organization, received the money we desperately needed.  

  • Ann

    I would like to urge Todd to consider donating the money to another charity. Tweeting about this. 

  • http://twitter.com/artmahfouz Arturo Mahfouz

    This is not surprising… I recently contacted Don Wicklin, asking him about the possibility of adding a Secular talk radio station to SiriusXM. Figured it wouldn’t be an issue, since they just added new equipment, and have started to merge and add new stations, and also because they have about a dozen Religious stations, and one GBLT station, I thought that adding a secular station wouldn’t be a big deal… His answer was that they don’t have enough bandwidth to host such a show. When I asked if it was because it was secular in nature, I did not get a reply. Since then, they have added several new stations, recently pitched to them, sports, family, and music.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/erv ERV

    Why go to ACS?

    Set up a grant that scientists can apply for directly from FBB a la The Gates Foundation.

  • Claire Doyle Ragin

    It’s not clear to me that this is discrimination against atheists, or simply a case of a clueless bureaucrat who is unable to see the big picture or be proactive in any way. Unfortunately there are people like that in all big organizations, whether corporate, non-profit or government.

  • Anonymous

    Doesn’t Bob have a superior? There must be a way to go over his head

    • Michael Appleman

      It sounds like Bob’s superiors are the problem.

  • Rick Murch-Shafer

    Bogus.  The Relay for Life website even says it’s for clubs and organizations on the page about National Team Program:
    “The National Team Program is an excellent way for businesses, clubs and organizations to participate in the world’s largest nonprofit fundraising event, while boosting employee morale and team-building skills.”

    Looking at the list of National Teams you can sign up on here are a few interesting ones that seem to be allowed.
    DeMoley International (a younger version of masons I think)
    Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society
    Sigma Alpha Lambda
    The Technology Student Association

    I think it is time to find a different group to donate to.

  • P. J. Reed

    You just need to write one line of code in the drop-down menu!

    As a software engineer, I feel compelled to comment that it’s never “one line of code.”  I’m sure it looks that way to somebody who’s just clicking on the combo box, but depending on how badly the web site was designed, it could take half a day of wiring things together under the hood in order to make that “one line” actually do anything.  That’s also assuming you don’t have to modify any interfaces or database schemas on production systems you don’t control and whose admins might object to you causing even half a second of downtime on their systems…

    Granted, I’m sure it’d cost far less than the $500k they would stand to gain, but I’m sure it’s not a tiny little one-line change.

    • ianfin

      As a website admin, I can say that depending on their system it could be just as easy as 1 line of code or one line of text.

      • P. J. Reed

        It could be, but I’ve jumped into the middle of enough enterprise-class applications to know that’s rarely the case.

        • Michael

          More likely it’s one line of code by a subcontractor in Mexico which has to be requested in writing by a subcontractor in Luxembourg who only works on alternate Fridays in months containing an A and needs the business case in triplicate presented in esperanto written on the naked bodies of alien life forms.

          Or, it’s not the code, it’s the bureaucracy.

          • Chris

            Sorry… don’t they have to type the same line of code as they do for any other national team? If they don’t have a category, list it as a corporate sponsor. It’s one more entry in a table. 

      • http://elmofromok.com Chad Henderson

        Unlikely to be one line of code. Almost guaranteed to be a dynamically generated list that is pulling from a database based on certain criteria. That takes more than one line of code. 

        • Guest

          Actually, since they use ASP.Net, it would be quite easy to do, and probably would be accomplishable in 2 lines of code at the maximum. One if the site was designed logically. It probably generates the drop-down menu by fetching information from a table in their database and use the same table to verify that the input is acceptable.

    • Anonymous

      That’s true for software systems where you actually want the menus to do stuff, so you have to program what happens when you click on it.

      For a website where you simply offer a group affiliation for people, it shouldn’t be much harder. After all they constantly have to change the groups, remove ones and add new ones

  • Anonymous

    I serve on the board of a local non-profit providing services to 2800 terminally ill clients. Our annual budget is only about $250,000. We would gladly receive $50,000 or so. Whom should I contact about that?

  • Anonymous

    Unless some evidence arises that religious groups are being treated better (for instance, is the Campus Crusade for Christ listed as a student group?) I would hesitate at putting this down to anti-atheist bigotry. It sounds more like the incapacity for adaptation and innovation that you would expect from a massive corporation, which I suspect is how the ACS operates.

    It’s pretty damn outrageous that someone wants to give them half a million dollars and they just can’t be bothered. To me it says that the ACS is doing a poor job in its mission.

    If Todd Stiefel (I feel there should be superhero music when his name is mentioned) is particularly interested in cancer research for personal reasons, I understand. A lot of people are touched by cancer. However if what he wants is to help people who really need it, I would suggest looking around for credible groups that fund research into Malaria, Tuberculosis, Chagas and Cholera. Since these diseases affect poor people in the third world, they are nowhere near as well funded as cancer research. Millions of people die from these diseases every year, and groups researching these killers lack the behemoth support of groups like the ACS.  I don’t know enough to suggest a specific group, but perhaps the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would be a good place to start asking.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Sweet/1280927267 James Sweet

      Yeah, I noticed an absence of religious organizations in the drop-down.  It’s possible they really are mostly just wanting (non-controversial) corporate groups to be nationally recognized, but didn’t really face up until that policy until now.

      Of course, if that is the case, the lack of honesty is still a problem.  They should have just straight-up said, “Hey, we haven’t really thought about this before, and I think we want to just dodge the religion bullet altogether.  So very sorry…”

    • http://twitter.com/FilthyPazuzu Filthy Pazuzu

      And then there’s ACS salaries:

      CEO John Seffrin: $685,884 (0.06% of expenses)Deputy CEO Donald Thomas $1,027,306 (0.09% of expenses)

      Those are some pretty big salaries – excuse me – I meant to say they’re being generously *compensated*. (I loathe that word in that context, it sounds like they were injured or something.) As big as those salaries are, it’s still just a fraction of ACS’s revenue. During fiscal year-end 2008, ACS took in over ONE BILLION DOLLARS.

      $500,000 is pocket change to them. It’s nothing.

      Find a better charity. I much prefer Claudia’s recommendation. Cancer research gets a tremendous amount of money, $500,000 is just a drop in the bucket. Infectious diseases kill far more people than cancer, but most Americans are unlikely to contract malaria, while cancer is a realistic threat. It’s not hard to figure out why cancer research gets so much money.

      Instead, we can really make a difference and improve this horrifying statistic:

      Every day 3 000 people die from malaria – three out of four of them children.

      This $500,000 can acquire, deliver & install 50,000 mosquito nets – and educate its new owner in its use. Nets are the most effective defense against malaria. Nothing But Nets uses the infrastructure the Measles Initiative already has in place – a partnership between American Red Cross, CDC, UN Foundation, & UNICEF.

      http://www.nothingbutnets.net/about-the-campaign/

      If the goal is for the money to go to research, we could help fight all infectious diseases by donating to the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, the largest independent NPO in the US. They have a 4-star rating at Charity Navigator, and they are incredibly efficient: $0.01 – one cent! – out of every dollar goes to administration.

      http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=6579

  • http://profiles.google.com/james.r.tyrrell James Tyrrell

    I just looked at Kiva,  awesome site. Although saying “The Kiva Christians are in second place by a mile.” seems a bit disingenuous as actually individually they give more on average than the atheist group there are just less of them ;).  

    Before I get too badly flamed I’ll point I’m a staunch Atheist and not an apologist but I’m also extremely skeptical and like to be precise about these things :P. Even with the differences I think the fact that over 17 thousand members giving over $200 on average to a good cause is a nice fact to play around when people claim that we are immoral or evil. 

    Atheists: “17,161 members have lent $4,947,700″ = $288  per person
    Christians: “7872 members have lent $2,860, 300″ = $363 per person

    • TheG

      Play with the numbers more.

      For example, the population of self-described atheists (1.6%) is 4,856,000 in the U.S.  That means approximately 0.35% of atheists are donating their money through this site (ignoring the possibility of foreign donations).

      Self-identifying Christians, on the other hand, have a population of 258 million (85%) in the U.S.  That means only 0.0031% of Christians are donating their money through Kiva.

      Two orders of magnitude in the population of generous members kind of puts a damper on the self-righteous nature of the religious in this country.

      Of course, these numbers are meaningless for various reasons, but nonetheless still fun.

    • johnlocke

      I think this is due to the large number of young atheists giving to the program who can’t give as much.

    • Stephanie

      Well, the answer is obviously for you to get on the Kiva bus with us and make that number rise! :) 

      Join us! Join us…. 

    • http://profiles.google.com/james.r.tyrrell James Tyrrell

      Hah, that’s what I love about our community when I say “I’m just being skeptical” people accept that and politely give their opinions, there is no screaming, wailing and gnashing of teeth. 

      @57f31fbce412a93e8838880924bbb0f6:disqus  thanks for the other numbers I’m not sure of their relevance on an international website. But as you say the numbers are essentially meaningless in this case as the reasons for joining are myriad, it certainly seems popular to the Atheist community. @06077654ea093ab5a65215710b30468b:disqus  , I’m interested how you know that the large percentage of the people on Kiva are ‘young’ I’m 31 and soon to be joining ;) and @d176009e3f9ce13b985a0f3f66c333dd:disqus  if I join I will lower the average unless I pay a significantly incredible amount :P, I am actually an English teacher in France so salary isn’t really quite ready for that yet :)

    • Dave

      Yeah, but the Christians are trying to buy their way into heaven.  They’re paying for the E ticket. ☺

  • Jim Spice

    Facebook page. 1. Like 2. Comment 3. Unlike

    http://www.facebook.com/RelayForLife?sk=wall

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

      Claims to be a treatment without side effects. That pretty much equates to a treatment without any effects

    • http://twitter.com/Datan0de Datan0de

      There’s really no polite way to put it. John Kanzius was a crank. His claim to fame was a “you can burn water for fuel!” scam involving electrolysis via RF. His “cancer treatment” was along the same lines. I can’t comment on his sincerity or intentions, but his research was ungrounded, implausible, and produced no reproducible positive results.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=645690699 Rachel Holierhoek

    Who is Bob in the organizational hierarchy of the ACS’ Relay for Life team?  I’d get hold of someone MUCH higher up in the organizational hierarchy, even if it means going to the head of the ACS and asking why on earth would they scoff at $500,000.  

    I understand wanting to shed light on the fact that nonbelievers are good, too.  I just don’t think that we need to get into an organized pissing match against believers to prove it.  

  • Mr Z

    Good without god == good without ACS
    Participate, collect, count, advertise FBB contributions and special mention to the individual local groups who do the best and special stories of various local groups for interesting facts about their efforts etc. Basically write the news story for any reporter wanting to cover the event for their local/regional paper etc.

    Pay someone to write a little code of your own, let local groups register under FBB banner on the FBB relay site, write some code to scrape stats from ACS relay site, and then let the world know how to view the FBB relay site. You might even find a hosting company that wants to be part of the FBB banner and provide web hosting for free etc.

    See if the world is interested in hearing about this FBB group that raised so much money, when the numbers are done. Set the bar for corporate groups. Take your same code and create group info and stats for other non-qualified groups etc. If it’s done right the ACS will have to acquiesce and play nice next time.

    Complaining about a tree across the path does little good. Far less good than working to go around it does. Getting to the end of the path is the goal, not doing so with the least amount of effort.

  • Kip M

    Charity Navigator rates the American Cancer Society low in regards to efficiency (1 of 4 stars).  I looked around, and found that the Cancer Research Institute might be a viable option (rated 4 of 4 stars in regards to efficiency).  CRI is just a fraction of the size of ACS (1.3%), but maybe it’d be good to help change that.

    Resources:
      Charity Navigator | ACS : http://goo.gl/rxSQb
      Charity Navigator | CRI : http://goo.gl/gfv7W

    • guest

      Three words CITY OF HOPE .

    • Kevin Shults

      The CRI has a much lower level of fundraising efficiency though, less than 1/3rd that of the ACS. 

      • Kip M

        No it doesn’t.  ACS uses 22.2% of its revenues for fund raising.  CRI uses 9.1%.  This means that CRI is about 2.5 times MORE efficient than ACS (in regards to fund raising).

  • Renshia

    What I would like to know is what percentage of the funds would go to actual research? I would be very suspicious of dealing with the the American Cancer Society, if it is run anything like the Canadian cancer society where only about 30 to 40% of funds raised go to actual research. The majority of fund pay the big guys and are used for more fund raising. I wonder how much of those funds raised are used properly? Maybe it’s not worth it.

    Personally, I think cancer fund raising has become as bigger business than the actual research is. I think there are much better places to put the money.

    • fed up

      this is true of fundraising across the board, it seems. I actually returned a massive fundraising packet to Greenpeace once complaining that the wasted paper and cardstock was antithetical to their mission. I got a reply to the effect that maybe next time I should write my letter of complaint on recycled paper. She couldn’t have known I fished the paper out of a recycle bin at the State Capitol, of course, but still I put her response on a par with “Bob’s”.

      The best solution is to take Kip M’s advice (at roughly 10 am CDT). check those links and view charities’ ratings before deciding who gets your donations.

  • Daverytech

    Sounds like the question should be asked of the ACS, “OK, how does one get this .5 million dollar donation labelled as from a national atheist group on your website?” That would cut through the crap. then if they say “No way,” you issue a PR with the title “ACS turns down .5 million from atheists. Really?”

  • Michael

    Wow.   As a cancer researcher, I am appalled.  I can’t believe anyone at the ACS would do that… I wonder if “Bob’s” superiors know about this… I wonder if their superiors know about this.  I think this should be made public. 

    • Anonymous

      Praying and spending money is no way to cure cancer.  Money to science is the way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sheepmonkey Han Hills

    Shocking. I think we are all used to this sort of thing, but seeing this amount of willful disregard for an organization’s interest, and more importantly the benefits to cancer sufferers, is still staggering. Of course they don’t say right out it’s a prejudice issue but the spaces between the lines seem fairly clear. A xtian passed a command down the line that the risk of offending xtian doners was too great. The technical excuses just don’t stand examination.
    Take the money, energy and initiative elsewhere.
    A huge thumbs up to Todd for this initiative though, and one person I know won’t let the f*****s grind him down!

  • Carmen Zepp

    WTF?!!! The ACS has some ‘splainin’ to do, and fast! First order of business should be firing “Bob.” Then hopefully someone with some brains will get back to Todd and get this mess straightened out.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Tom Lawson

    It all sounds like a vain attempt to “show” Christians we’re generous. Ahem, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are known atheists and give away millions, no one cares. Christians think they’re trying to buy their way into heaven. Trying to convince people that are already convinced you have ulterior motives. The most un-Christian thing to do is donate anonymously. Right?

    That being said. This is why atheism has not caught on. We have done the most moral and ethical things in the past, we’re always taking the high ground. We donate anonymously because it’s the right thing to do, while Christian groups constantly shove their “works” in everyone’s faces. This is an important issue. We must continue to sponsor parks, adopt highways, etc. This isn’t about convincing the ignorant. This isn’t about vanity. This is about showing we exist.

    • Michael S

      I’m not saying we should donate anonymously, but relying on the ACS to help gain recognition supports a more wasteful company than
      necessary.

      It seems like the desire to show atheist generosity is beginning to come at the cost of performing generous acts. It isn’t a zero-sum game, though. This hurts both efforts.

    • Xtian C.

      Why would an atheist buy their way into something they do not believe in?

      • http://twitter.com/spookiewon Pjay (Patti) Pender

        I don’t know, but they (the christians) seem to think we’ll be scared if they keep telling us that if we don’t hurry up and believe we’ll go to hell.  They are unmoved when I, at least, point out that I can’t imagine being scared of a place that doesn’t exist.  THEY seem to think that our motivation is to buy our way into heaven, since they REALL TRULY can’t imagine that we aren’t scared of going to hell. 

        They also keep saying we “worship satan, ” I guess because it’s possible to worship something you don’t believe in as well.  

        As to it being better to give anonymously, isn’t that a biblical reference?  Didn’t Jesus say it was better to give anonymously because god knows you did it even if no one else does?  I would think it would be christians who’d be keeping it on the QT, not atheists.  Or are we trying to convince them we value biblical values?

    • Mogseyoboyle

      Surely it’s about doing the right thing ethically.

  • SueS

    Give the money to Modest Needs.  They don’t care whether a group is Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, or Pastafarian (FSM).  They will take the money and happily recognize the source publicly.  When MN says thank you to a donor, they MEAN it and they don’t try to hide certain groups.  MN does an amazing job with the money they get.  Check them out at http://www.modestneeds.org

  • http://tdhurst.com tdhurst

    Malaria No More would love your money. In fact, the Domino Project Street Team just helped promote a book called End Malaria (launched yesterday).

    I’m sure Seth Godin and the rest of us would be happy for any help you’d like to give.

  • http://stroppyrabbit.blogspot.com yewtree

    This sort of thing often happens to Pagans who try to raise money for charities as well. The solution is either to donate to a different charity, or create your own charity.
    http://www.cauldronliving.com/content/210-avalon-cares-pagan-charity-masses.html

  • http://twitter.com/Biblebabble Bible Belt Atheist

    I just
    have to assume funds would not be distributed to atheist cancer researchs.
    You should hold your own parallel event on the same day and publicize the reason why.
    Donate money to atheist cancer researcher. Big anti-descrimination event too. You
    Will raise much more than $500,000.

    • Anonymous

      I apologize in advance if I’m misinterpreting your comment, but are you suggesting that we demand a religious test for the researcher who recieves the fund?

      Not to put too fine a point on it but who the fuck cares what religion the researcher is? I know a cancer researcher. He’s Catholic. The junior researchers under him are agnostic, atheist and two others I don’t know well enough. I was accepted into a lab studying Parkinsons that was headed by an Opus Dei supernumerary, in a center run by the organization. They knew I was atheist and though I didn’t stay long, my religion was never an issue.

      Research is research. As long as it’s high quality, the personal beliefs to the people performing it don’t matter.

  • http://twitter.com/Biblebabble Bible Belt Atheist

    I just
    have to assume funds would not be distributed to atheist cancer researchs.
    You should hold your own parallel event on the same day and publicize the reason why.
    Donate money to atheist cancer researcher. Big anti-descrimination event too. You
    Will raise much more than $500,000.

  • Anonymous

    I participate in the Relay for Life in Second Life. This year we raised $375,000 (US) for the ACS. I wonder how they categorize that money? It’s coming from everything from steampunk communities to fantasy warrior communities to virtual sailing clubs. Corporate we’re not.

  • Marcel Mhanna

    Very sad indeed.

    People still need a lot of time to step outside their stupid conditioning.

    We shouldnt give up on building a world based on science, intelligence and empathy.

  • Anonymous

    I dunno if you encountered discrimination against an atheist group or just organizational incompetence. Are there religious, non-profit national teams still affiliated?

    Anyway, I’d edit out that imagined dialog as it’s a little misleading (even though you do mention it’s imagined) and a distraction from your main point.

  • Howie51

    Cudos for bringing this to public attention. Circulate this information as widely as possible and allow public opinion to bring the pressure!

  • Westley

    Hmm, remember that Elizabeth Dole was president of the ACS from 1991-1999 and she was no friend to atheists.  The current chairman appears to be Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, who was Dole’s national finance chair.

    • Chickybird

      I think you’re thinking of the American Red Cross, not the ACS.

      • Westley

        D’oh!  You’re right.

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    Wow. Maybe I missed it in the comments above, but do we have contact information for them? … I ask rhetorically as I go off in search.

  • Anonymous

    I found the following paragraph interesting and scary:  “Todd did ask very bluntly if this was a publicity issue, about the ACS
    having a connection to a group of atheists. Bob insisted that wasn’t
    the case — in fact, they had supported LGBT teams in the past without
    hesitation.”  Why is he equating atheists with the LGBT commmunity?  I think you’re dealling with heavey duty ignorance here.  It also makes me wonder what is the ACS’s stance on stemcell research and genetically engineered solutions for cancer?

    • Anonymous

      Both are groups hated by Christians. I can easily see why he made the comparison

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    Sent an email to them:

    “I would like to urge the ACS to reconsider your stance on allowing the Foundation Beyond Belief to be a national team in the Relay for Life. The reasons, as presented to our spokesperson, are convoluted and self-conflicting and make it appear as if ACS is denying our group simply because we’re a group of non-believers. Please rethink this decision as it’s short-sited and will end up with the American Cancer Society losing out on a possible $500,000 in donations.”

    Their contact information is here:

    http://www.cancer.org/Aboutus/HowWeHelpYou/app/contact-us.aspx

    • http://twitter.com/grngeekgirl Miss Susie

      to anybody who is going to C&P that paragraph, please note that it is “short-sighted”.

  • Michieux

    Cancer doesn’t check your affiliations, and neither should the ACS. If the ACS is being pressured to do this, either internally or externally, then that should be made public.

  • John Michael Strubhart

    Forget the ACS!  Seems to me that your impressive contributions could be better used elsewhere.  Still, I’m going to out the ACS on this one via facebook.  

  • Annie

    I am assuming that the reason for choosing Relay for Life was that it would provide a lot of exposure for atheists doing good in the world.  Is there another organization that could offer the same amount of exposure without being such jerks? 

  • Bev

    Of course it’s discrimination.  There is a point when you stop giving someone the benefit of the doubt…..like maybe 3 red  flags…..the ACS has about 20 of them.  This is what discrimination looks….loud and clear. 

  • Boz

    forward this blog post to to: John R. Seffrin, Chief Executive Officer.

  • Rb6k

    All these charity suggestions are good, but is it not possible to just go direct to the researchers? I used to work for a man who visited a lab, spoke to the folks doing the research and asked what equipment they needed to complete their work quicker.  They all agreed that there was 1 specific machine that was useful to most of the people in the lab but since there was only 1 it meant long delays, booking in advance and lots of hold ups. He wrote a cheque there and then to buy them a new one and it made a huge difference to their work.

    To me that has a far greater impact on fighting whatever cause is settled on than just giving it to some middleman to drip feed as they see fit. Once you’ve paid for their wages, advertising and other bills the money is usually spread out which means the impact dwindles the further down the path you go.

    500k would buy a decent amount of useful machinary (sp? sorry!) – it could range from 1 huge piece that are hard to come by to 100′s of useful small ones.  Living in the UK I always think if I had millions I would buy a few of the machines you guys have in the USA to save all our cancer patients flying over there for months on end. Proton Therapy is a big one at the moment.

    I’m sure you’ll figure out what to do with it and keep us posted!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Short version: Fuck’em.

    Long version: Give the money to a competitor, and publicize why. If the ACS has gotten so big, so rich, so fat at the top, so self-serving and so self-important that they can sneer at half a million dollars because they don’t like the unrelated views of who’s donating it, and they won’t even be frank and honest about it, then they’ve gotten too big for their britches.  Give the money to some smaller, leaner, more honest group such as those that have been mentioned in comments above, whether it’s another group concentrating on cancer, or on infectious diseases. I’d participate in something like that, both physically and monetarily, but I don’t think I’ll have anything to do with the ACS unless this is very convincingly cleared up.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E4DCGIUXPCHGHRRYUE6QZHLVGM Bob Bob

    Call someone else in the organization.  If there is no one in the organization that cares then we must find another way to help – perhaps fund promising research directly such as DCA research in Alberta.

  • Max

    I think I have to agree with others on this  thread.  It may be best to take those funds elsewhere.  The ACS seems inefficient and disinterested in a metric ton of bank, and on top of all that, they are not interested, can’t be bothered to explain in some detail their policy.  If someone cannot explain why they won’t work with me, even though they would be keen on my help, I am much less interested in helping them.

    If this had been almost any other organization you can bet there would have been some serious effort to please the donors of such large sums to explain in detail the policies, to offer some sort of middle ground if they really couldn’t change their policy and they certainly would have made clear their appreciation of that interest in donating time and money to their organization.  

  • Drascath

    Nobody questions the concept of “walking (or running) for cancer.”  Why can’t people give money for research without a bunch of people walking (or running)?

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      I have to agree, I’ve never actually understood the point of paying a charity for someone putting out physical exertion that accomplishes nothing more than the fitness of the volunteer. If you want to walk x miles for x dollars toward cancer research, how about putting a broom in front of you and walk those miles down some litter-choked street or highway? How about planting x number of shrub seedlings along a denuded hill? How about painting x number of square feet of ugly vandalized public wall?  How about working x number of hours refurbishing a decaying inner city park or playground?  Let’s have two public benefits as well as your own physical fitness. You’ll get more donations from locals if they know your efforts will have an immediate practical benefit for their community as well as for research against disease.

      • Tom

        I always thought the original point of that style of charitable activity sponsorship (Asking people to pay you to do wacky, pointless, difficult thing X to raise money for charity Y, where X has no actual connection whatsoever to Y), was to induce people who wouldn’t normally be charitable enough to give directly to Y to pay m0ney in order to be entertained by X, where the effort expended on X by the original volunteer is negligible compared to the effort represented by the net donations, which are then diverted to the charity.

        It baffles me how the meme seems to have got garbled and mutated somewhat.  Now one often seems to see lots of people giving money to charity Y because they genuinely do wish to donate to Y, but still doing it via some form of sponsored stupidity X, even though they actually have no particular interest in seeing X (indeed, X now seems to often have no actual entertainment value at all; sometimes only the pointlessness of it is apparently remembered by the organisers as a requirement).  This was always supposed to happen, I think, which is why one makes a point of mentioning Y a lot when promoting X – it allows a single event to draw both direct donations from those who support Y, and from those who just want to see X.  

        The problem is that X has often become remarkably expensive, and if one has a high proportion of Y-givers who’d donate even if X didn’t happen, much of their donation is wasted on an event few people actually want to see, simply because it’s been established in everyone’s minds that X must always accompany Y.

  • Chantelle Petersen

    I would recomend the ALS society… they just made some excellent strides in pointing out the mechanisim in ALS and work on treatments is going to start soon.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    Really?

    Really?!

    *facepalm*

  • http://americancancer.myvidoop.com/ americancancer.myvidoop.com

    An open letter to our Relay For Life Friends
    We feel a need to address some of the comments posted on our Facebook page and this blog post related to the relationship between the American Cancer Society and Foundation Beyond Belief.  We hope to clarify some misinformation and correct any misconceptions. 
    The Society has not turned down the Foundation Beyond Belief’s generous donation offer and we definitely don’t want to discourage the group’s participation in Relay For Life. We are grateful for their interest in saving lives from cancer. In fact, we continue to discuss with this group ways in which we can work together.
    The Foundation sought to participate in Relay For Life’s National Team Program, which is a program for corporate donors and supporters. The Foundation Beyond Belief is not a corporate entity, so our representative offered alternatives to the National Team Program that are consistent with the way in which Relay For Life works with other foundations, student groups, social and philosophical organizations, and other types of groups across the country that do not meet the criteria of the National Team Program. Our representative encouraged participation by the Foundation Beyond Belief at the community level, and offered to make introductions to local Relay events in communities wherever the Foundation has affiliates across the country. The Society has similar relationships with millions of individuals representing similar organizations nationwide.
    It is true that there are some recognition benefits available only to groups that are part of the National Team Program, and it is regrettable that some people may feel offended that the Foundation Beyond Belief would not be eligible to take advantage of those benefits. In managing Relay For Life, with thousands of community events and millions of passionate participants nationwide, we strive to deal fairly and consistently with everyone.
    We sincerely hope we can find a resolution to this situation that is agreeable to all concerned , because it is clear that we all  share  a passion for Relay and our mission of helping people stay well, get well, find cures, and fight back against cancer. And at the end of the day, saving lives is what it is all about.
    Reuel JohnsonNVP of Relay For Life

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      I’m sorry Mr. Johnson, but to me at least, your “clarification” written in bureaucratese is just as opaque as the stone wall that Mr. Stiefel encountered, and merely repeats presenting the same stones in that wall.  Perhaps you have contacted Mr. Stiefel personally to explain in more frank detail these encumbrances that are usually found in a conflict where one side just doesn’t want to deal with the other in an openhanded way:

      1. The initial six weeks of completely ignoring Mr. Stiefel’s efforts to establish the Foundation Beyond Belief as a national team.

      2. The accidental re-establishment of contact with the mysteriously unavailable ACS representative, here called “Bob,” only because a different ACS staff member contacted Mr. Stiefel on a different matter.

      3. The series of excuses in the telephone conversation portrayed above on this blog post between Mr. Stiefel and “Bob,” each one of which sounds very ad-hoc, very made-up-on-the-spot to be an arbitrary barrier to national team recognition.

      If you think these problems are incorrectly characterized and interpreted by this blog post or by me, I’d like to hear something more cards-on-the-table to explain them, rather than the impenetrable P.R. obfustication that you have offered here.

    • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

      The Foundation Beyond Belief is not a corporate entity…

      Yes it is.

      Richard wrote about this in the post to which you are replying.

      Foundation Beyond Belief is a 501(c)(3) corporation.

      You’re not listening.

    • http://twitter.com/spookiewon Pjay (Patti) Pender

      Except, as they pointed out to you, they ARE a corporate entity.  They also have a youth branch that was also turned down.

      As I wrote to you in my own personal email. in my own struggle against cancer you have proved to have nothing to offer to a woman whose cancer is not in her breast or female organs.  My needs are different than those of a breast cancer or cervical cancer patient, and you just keep telling me you don’t have any programs that provide the kinds of things I need.  Even programs you DO have that might help me, you don’t actually have the ability to provide.  If accepting the FBB’s offer requires you to allow a corporation to participate as a corporation in the Relay for Life, it seems to me that not accepting that is the same thing, morally, as not accepting the donation. Perhaps you’d be able to provide me the services that actually help me (in my case, Road to Recovery transport to treatment 80 miles from my rural home or a place to spend the night in the city where I am treated and transport to and from that place and the hospital, since I am unable to drive following treatment) and others who don’t have your “pet” cancers.  

      It is simply unthinkable you cannot work out a way to do this, and unbelievable that it’s not because you fear bad publicity because the group is one of non-believers.

  • David Jonathan Jones

    As a Christian and as a medical student I’m appalled you’ve been treated this way.  Personally, I don’t care for your Foundation, nor do I particularly care for the ACS.  But cancer patients – I care that they have been denied the treatment/research that could have benifited them.  That money could have done a great deal of good. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JTBMQYMFVZMKNCXIMISICQ3Z6E Anonymous

      you don’t “care for” Foundation Beyond Belief? Why is that? Are only godbots allowed to care about charity? Money given freely with no strings, no expectation that the recipient is going to have to sit through a sermon or be pelted with pamphlets… and you don’t “care for” that. WOW.

      • David Jonathan Jones

        I don’t “care for” an organisation whose secular humanist values I disagree with. Yet I wouldn’t discount them from offering charity to their fellow man.  You apparently feel different about organisations whose values you disagree with.  Now tell me, why is someone as angry as you reading a blog called ‘FRIENDLY atheist’ ?

        • Dave Hayes

          I’m curious which secular humanist values you disagree with. Or do you just disagree w/not attributing “values” to an imaginary friend? Do you even KNOW what secular humanist values are?

      • David Jonathan Jones

        I don’t “care for” an organisation whose secular humanist values I disagree with. Yet I wouldn’t discount them from offering charity to their fellow man.  You apparently feel different about organisations whose values you disagree with.  Now tell me, why is someone as angry as you reading a blog called ‘FRIENDLY atheist’ ?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JTBMQYMFVZMKNCXIMISICQ3Z6E Anonymous

      you don’t “care for” Foundation Beyond Belief? Why is that? Are only godbots allowed to care about charity? Money given freely with no strings, no expectation that the recipient is going to have to sit through a sermon or be pelted with pamphlets… and you don’t “care for” that. WOW.

  • http://profiles.google.com/pilotkono The The

    Here’s my problem with all of this charity, be it from wacko religious groups, or from us, well-meaning Atheists.

    People are supposed to die. Some are supposed to die of cancer, car wrecks, heart disease or whatever. We all die, some sooner, some later. I want to live forever, but that isn’t going to happen.

    In Third World countries, like Africa, children are dying daily by the thousands, if one is to believe the press. Yet if we feed all of these people, they have nothing to do but breed. There are too many humans on this planet already. We are destroying the habitat of every other species. Yet we continue this wide open breeding, in every country including America, with a blind eye to the consequences. Children go to bed hungry all over the world, and it’s not because there isn’t enough food, it’s because there are too many children.

    It’s time we invested all of this food and health money into programs that will limit the growth of the number of people on the Earth.

    • Erp

      Apparently the best way of limiting population growth is to ensure that those children who are born survive and  are educated (this includes the girls).  People have large families when the odds are not good for survival of any given child; they hope to have a few that will survive (if you have 10 kids it is less likely that something will kill them all, if you have 3, the odds are much worst).   

      Most populations where children are very likely to survive  (e.g., western Europe, Japan, US) have declining family size.  Populations where children are likely to survive but family size is not decreasing tend to severely limit the education of women (e.g., Old Colony Mennonites in Bolivia where women don’t get schooling beyond age 12 [no 'figuring' which apparently means multiplication/division but might include addition/subtraction  and no language beyond their own dialect of Low German]; the Amish in the US are another example though the education cutoff for both sexes is 14 [the Supreme Court ruled they could take a religious exemption from state laws requiring a higher age, Wisconsin vs. Yoder, 1972]). 

  • Anonymous

    If the ACS puts obstacles in the way of organized groups of openly non-religious people then it suggests that it will also put up obstacles to the treatment and care and illness prevention of individual people who express non-belief in a deity.  This is discrimination on religious grounds.  Utterly disgusting.

  • B Jones

    What I don’t understand is this. If you read the blog post he jumps from asking about National Corporate Teams to National Youth Teams. If you go to the ACS website, you ‘ll see in between the two, National Non-Corporate Teams. Teams listed here include The Knights of Pythias and the Jaycees. Why isn’t this option being considered. I’m assuming I’m just missing something.

  • Michael Lecky

    It’s plain as day that all the present “hope-based” organizations consecrated to the eradication of this and that  ailment are ” faith-based.” In my experience, they tend to be distaff, and “holistic,” meaning, “We’re happy to buy into every flaky superstition under the sun, and so long as you’re in thrall of one, and preferably specify which, we’ll  welcome you with open arms and will take your money..” But when you say you’re an atheist, look out.  You’re now as pernicious as al Queda or the International League of  Pederasts.  

    I’ve never grasped why the prospect of death (id est cessation of consciousness) is such a big effing deal. In fact, to quote Samuel Beckett, “Would not the beatific vision, in the long run, be a source of boredom?” 

    I still run thirty or so miles a week, and would love to participate in an atheist effort to” run against” some ailment. I would simply want a t-shirt with the word ‘atheist’ ont the back. I’ve put my real name on this missive. Damn the torpedoes. Eternity waits.  

  • an insertion of rationality

    Full disclosure: I am a paid employee of the American Cancer Society. I’m not in a leadership or decision-making position but my job involves a heavy entrenchment in the daily, national workings of the organization and its constituents. While I’m sure the Society has taken several official methods of addressing this issue via social media postings and such, I can assure you that I come here completely on my own.

    I am an Atheist who would be extremely upset if I was exposed to, privy to, or aware of an inkling of evidence that my employer espoused any semblance of a religious doctrine or underlying belief system. I’ve worked at the Society for seven years and not once have heard even a whisper of religiosity. None.

    Does the Society make stupid, short-sited decisions that affect the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization and its relationship with its constituents? You bet; and as an employee it sometimes drives me crazy. But with this said, I have to personally avow from my seven year, 40 hour-a-day experience, that your community is blindly reaching conclusions that are just not true. To restate the above more specifically: could the Society bungle a sizeable donation from an organization because of petty, arbitrary red tape and unfortunate constituent relations? You bet. But it’s not because you are Atheists. The huge chip on your shoulder about this is as embarrassing to me as an Atheist as the unfortunate decisions sometimes made by ACS embarrass me as an ACS employee. Start espousing your core tenants and start thinking rationally without ego and emotion, please.

    • Masher88

      So, the ACS is just bad at doing what it’s supposed to do? Is the ACS always “inefficient” when it comes to 1/2 million dollar donations?  If so, let some other organization take the reigns for helping out in cancer research.  Maybe this is why cancer research is always needing funding.

      • an insertion of rationality

        I’m not saying ACS is “always” inefficient (I probably was a bit harsh in my words above), but from reading this article and other comments about the situation, and from my noted experience working for ACS, it is much more probable that this problem arises from bureaucratic problems rather than a systemic ACS conspiracy against Atheists. I can even appreciate the original author’s initial concern here, but many of the brash, hyper-emotional and ignorant comments on this thread seem to belie the purported mission here of rational thinking without blind adherence to dogma and faith. Check yourselves.

    • http://twitter.com/spookiewon Pjay (Patti) Pender

      Nonsense.  The ACS is not interested in helping people with cancer unless they have breast cancer, and whether you see it or not, every FB post from the organization and every contact with a cancer patient or survivor makes clear both the religiousity of the organization and it’s bias toward breast cancer and/or other cancers which will garner them attention in the media.  They are in the business of making money.  Period.  While I was undergoing cancer treatment I heard “we’re just not set up to…” every time I contacted them about anything.  Because my treatment was different from a breast cancer patient’s, I needed different things.  But they “aren’t set up to do that.” ANd NO ONE I spoke to worked more than 8 hours a day or even that much.  They were NEVER in when you called.  40 hours-a-day, indeed.

      • TByte

        Doesn’t surprise me.  Prostate cancer mortality rates are on par with breast cancer mortality rates, but breast cancer receives three times the funding.
        It is unfortunate, Patti, that in our culture’s routine discrimination against men in healthcare, you became collateral damage.

  • rs

    How about Changing to LLS? That would be a great way for the $ to still go to cancer and also teach a great lesson to ACS.

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  • Rodrigo

    and you gave them all that cash? they are a bunch of bigots, but you are not getting a golden star for being smart.

    They belittle me because i don’t believe in fairy tales? fine, i will gladly go with the music elsewhere

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith

    This is only another example of how hated atheists are by the hypocritical religious reich.  I would have taken my $250,000 and distributed it to national and local atheist groups for more billboards and signs on buses.  


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