What moved American Atheists to put up these billboards? Religion causing people who want to help to wind up not helping at all:
While at least $300 million has been pledged by nations around the world to help survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan, the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines, a billion-dollar non-government organization, has responded to the disaster by sending 1,000 bibles and 12,000 rosaries to survivors, according to CBS News. Additionally, the Pope tweeted for Catholics to pray for the typhoon victims. His message was retweeted 30,000 times.
“Imagine if the Pope had asked for people to send money to victims or to send needed supplies. How much more useful would that have been to the people of the Philippines? This is insulting,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “Over 5,500 people have died, so Pope Francis leads people in prayer, and they send bibles and rosaries. This is repugnant; natural disasters should not be viewed as opportunities for proselytization.” Silverman continued, “Religion is not charity. It’s business masquerading as charity, and it needs to be recognized as such.”
A rosary? Fucking fantastic! I’ll hold this over my head to keep the rain off, since my house got shattered to smithereens. Thanks, Catholic Church! And a bible? Holy fucking Christ on Christmas am I glad this isn’t food of some sort. Another rosary! Spectacular! I wonder how much this cost in terms of pounds of rice. I don’t have clothes, but at least this will keep a few centimeters of my exposed skin safe from demons. God damn, I thought we were in real trouble there for a second. That’s what displaced, barely surviving people will say, right? The excuse will be that this gives people hope, as if the hope of food and a home is more valuable than actual food and an actual place to stay.
This is doing what the church has always done: trying to catch and convert people at their weakest, in their moments of desperation, when their critical faculties are likely to be at their weakest. And, as it so often does, it takes precedence over actual relief (otherwise oranges would be sent instead of those bibles). It’s despicable. It’s less than human.
Or, here’s an idea, the Catholic Church could divert some of its opulence to the region instead of asking people who are mostly living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet (and getting about as much help from god as the hurricane victims, i.e. none) to pray or even send some of our own money (which many of us have).
Or even better, they could stop asking the being who supposedly conceived of hurricanes, who stood in the torrential winds and watched while children, many of them Christian were killed by the fruits of his own design, to offer relief for the situation he orchestrated. This is like asking the person who robbed your house to help catch the burglars.
Three cheers for American Atheists.
And for anybody asking why American Atheists is spending their money on billboards pointing out the problems rather than in aiding the victims directly, I got this email from Dave Muscato:
American Atheists had an opportunity to advertise a message the week of Thanksgiving on six billboards in New Jersey at no cost to the organization or its donors. We chose to focus these billboards on the issue of disaster relief and some religious groups exploiting tragedy instead of helping victims.We are not an aid organization and, unlike some churches, we don’t pretend to be one. However, we can use our megaphone to raise awareness about the uselessness of prayer and other religious items for “disaster relief.” Instead, we direct our website visitors to other secular organizations that offer real support to the real victims of tragedy.