Todd Stiefel takes an unconventional approach to philanthropy. He put up the $50,000 at American Atheists that made our festival possible via his Stiefel Freethought Foundation.That represents 100% of the funding.
Last week, we were discussing ways to soften the blow that many Christians feel we are inflicting. We’re not attacking them at all, but it’s been portrayed as such by many prominent religious leaders (including Chaplains). Todd mentioned that his wife was a Christian, and that he’s made it work. We talked about his experiences and how those lessons could easily be applied to this situation. In the end the only way to truly break down these barriers is to have conversation, and realize that neither side are really ‘bad guys’.
Todd just donated 1000 meals to Christians and atheists at Bragg
Obviously Christians comprise the majority of the religious demographics, but any Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. are equally welcome.
Now my fellow atheists are going to wince at the “Pray for” part. Yeah, me too (and I made the damn thing.) But I think it still invites the conversation that America clearly needs to have. I have it on a regular basis. It usually goes something like this:
Christian: “I’ll pray for you and your festival.”
Justin Griffith: “Thank you for what you mean by that. But you should do something tangible to support us.”
Christian: “Ha ha…that’s kind of rude, no?”
Justin Griffith: “Perhaps, not intentionally… though your comment about ‘praying for me‘ can be seen that way too. As a former Christian, I get it. So no worries. We really do need all the support we can get. All you have to do is show up and watch us ‘not burn down churches’ or eat your babies. Then tell your friends we’re harmless.”
So all you Christians should feel perfectly comfortable coming out early to the Main Post Parade Field. Free food at 11:00 AM, and feel welcome to stay for all the free thought beginning at noon. You will not be alone, either. Richard Dawkins regularly attracts a considerable amount of Christians at his events. Some chaplains already told me they will be there incognito. Awesome.
Speaking of food
On the heels of our announcement that Fort Bragg had denied us the right to feed homeless veterans… I’m going to let you know right now that a very significant amount of food is going to feed the homeless based on this donation. This was already in the works, but we are certainly going to emphasize both ‘feedings’.
By the way, well over $1,000 was specifically raised by the Military Atheists and Secular Humanists Fort Bragg (MASH Fort Bragg) yesterday. Most of it came from reddit, and our treasurer will have much more exact figures to announce at the festival. It’s all going to the same account as our main funds, but each person who clicked on the paypal button in the viral post from (linked above) generated an email that earmarked it for the food drive. So our treasurer has to sift through it all to get exact figures. Thanks, brothers and sisters!