Atheist Charity Featured in New York Times because of Its Outreach to Religious Groups

It’s hard to express how proud I am to see Foundation Beyond Belief celebrated in a New York Times article today by Samuel Freedman — specifically for our seemingly paradoxical outreach to religious organizations:

Since 2011, the [Challenge the Gap] initiative has given several thousand dollars each fiscal quarter to a different religious group. The recipients have been Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and interfaith, and their primary issues have included hunger, reproductive rights and medical aid in Afghanistan. The only requirement, Mr. McGowan said, is that the organizations not proselytize.

The piece focuses on this quarter’s option for donors to give to the (liberal) Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. The five-figure donation probably won’t affect the group’s seven-figure budget, but as Freedman points out, it’s a symbolic gift that atheists and religious people can work together toward common goals despite our philosophical differences.

It’s simultaneously the most controversial thing we do as well as the most logical. There are plenty of religious groups out there that do purely secular work and that support church/state separation. Why would we not want to support them? We can argue about religion all day long, but that’s not going to eradicate those beliefs anytime soon. Until then, might as well find common ground.

By the way, it’s not too late for you to donate to any of our five nominated charities this quarter. And if supporting a religious group isn’t your thing, that’s fine. You can earmark your donations so that they only go to the groups you support.

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.


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