The first mainstream media article is now up regarding how the American Cancer Society rejected a potential $500,000 from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation because it would have involved atheists doing the fundraising. You can read background on the story here, here, and here.
The American Cancer Society has rejected an atheist group’s bid to field a national team to raise money for cancer research, and organizers suspect it’s because of the volunteers’ godless beliefs.
The American Cancer Society said a relay team sponsored by the Foundation Beyond Belief didn’t fit its new policy that organizes national teams only from corporations, not nonprofit groups.
Devoting staff to a noncorporate national team program was “sapping some energy and time” and not delivering the desired revenue to justify the support, said Reuel Johnson, national vice president for the ACS’ Relay for Life.
Stiefel appealed the rejection, arguing that the foundation is a corporation, but was denied. An idea to start a youth affiliate program was also rejected, he said.
“I know we’re being treated differently than other nonprofits, but I don’t know why,” Stiefel said. “My beef is if they eliminated the noncorporate program, why would they not find any alternative way to establish a national team or something that was equivalent, considering the huge matching challenge?”
It doesn’t sound like the ACS staff knows what’s going on either:
Greg Donaldson, national vice president of communications for the ACS, said it is simply “not true” that the ACS would not help calculate the fundraising tallies for the local teams, and said he’s unsure what the “real agenda is here.”
“We’re anxious and excited and willing to work with Mr. Stiefel and any organization. … Every conceivable organization type has worked with us on Relay. That’s why it’s been so successful. It would be suicide to conduct differentiated treatment with any organization.”
If that’s the case, go right ahead and fix the situation now. I can’t wait to see Mr. Johnson’s apology.
Hopefully, other media sources will pick up on this story from the Religion News Service. It has the potential to be a big issue, but only if other journalists care to look deeper into it.