1. As I previously expressed through the TX Freethought Facebook inbox, I am extremely uncomfortable with this effort,in that it excludes some people that are suffering as a result of this disaster. While it has been explained to me that secularists will be assisted FIRST, and it does not exclude others, that just isn’t good enough. As a secularist and atheist, I see this as a wonderful opportunity to educate those of religious faith that we are NOT a community lacking in morals, ethics, and compassion (as so many argue that we are). I also addressed the point of wondering exactly how we identify a secularist (must they be ‘out of the closet’ and self-identified as part of a secularist organization)?  I don’t see this as any different as a religious organization helping their own flock first…whilst ignoring the needs of others. This exclusion hurts us as secularists, humanists, atheists, and will prevent me from making a donation. I am so sorry to feel this conflict, and sorrier still that I feel the same sort of discomfort in my own atheist community that I felt as a Catholic many years ago. While I admire the effort to assist, this method is misguided.  

  2. When I first heard of religious charities withholding aid to the non-religious, I was appalled. Now I hear that secular charities are doing a similar thing? Disappointing…

  3. Making a rod for your own back. And I’m really not a fan of the rhetoric either. Really going a t it the wrong way.

    What’s wrong with “Please give generously”?

  4. New York has the second highest count of billionaires on the planet.  Maybe they can afford to assist?

  5. I would rather give to the Red Cross again, which receives from everyone and gives to everyone. This is closer to humanism and secularism than just catering to a little in-group, whether religious or not.

  6. What the hell? The most needy first; whatever they believe. Secular communities? I didn’t know we grouped.

    How do you spot a secularist on the street?

  7. A supernatural cause? – unlikely,
    A natural cause? maybe,
    What about an artificial cause, like Global warming? Until the majority of Americans accept global warming, AND actively do something to counter it, well you get the idea. 

    America is  rich country, there are plenty more around the world who are much worse off. What little money I have is going there first.

    Just had an idea, if the religious nutt.. er … community think the storm was an act of god, Then taxing the churches would be a fair way to claim damages.

  8. Oh stop the bullshit, nobody’s being excluded.  Who talks like that?  I’m a secularist, I realize there are many others, and some  may be active in their  communities.  Hey, some of them may have even been hurt by this storm.

    Ah, ha!  I might be able to help a fellow secularist by letting it be known that I’ve gotten in touch with their local group asking if any of them need help.

    What a bastard I am, ignoring all other people by thinking of helping secularists.  Just an evil, evil prick.


    You know baby, I think Bobby belongs to that group up in NJ.

    Yeah, I wonder how he’s doing.  

    Well, let’s not call him just yet. We should give to the approved charities first, then to his entire community, and then perhaps we may lend him a hand as well.  We wouldn’t want anyone to think we had excluded them to help our friend Bobby, that would be eeeeeevil.

  9. Bobby called, he’s fine. No help needed. Now back to the real issue. Should secularist organizations participate in initiatives that are designed to only help fellow secularists? I think an NAACP campaign targeted at helping only black Sandy victims would not be cool. However, I could find a good argument for Mothers Against not Being Pregnant helping out pregnant mothers, who would, by the definition of their being pregnant, need particular help. they could be better served by a group with strong contacts in the pregnancy area. Were secularists being targeted by the storm, I could see the argument.

  10. Should secularist organizations participate in initiatives that are designed to only help fellow secularists?

    Yes, why not?  They are a secular organization with ties to other secular organizations, some of whom would have been in the path of that storm.  What on earth is wrong with a secular organization requesting funds or other help to be distributed by them to people involved with secular organizations?  

  11. I’m with Capt. Bloodeye on this, perhaps even stronger. 

    If we can get a combined national promise to never ever ever declare they are “the best country in the world” again I’ll consider it but until then just prove it.

    I won’t be giving to the Red Cross either, just another crutch for the American dream, wake up – you’re drowning.

    Edit, after rereading my post I think I was in retrospect a little too generous. I will not be reconsidering my stance even if they do wake up.

  12. this dog don’t hunt

    Neither will this idea, I’m afraid :/

    take out your wallet

    Redundant and preachy – I half expected him to say “…and god bless you” at the end.  

  13. It’s not just for “secular” people, read and understand! 

    ” The funds are for everybody. We’re starting out with supporting our own networks first then branching out from there. We have limited funds, so every penny has to count. We also have it stated on our Facebook site “Hurricane Sandy Emergency Relief Fund” and below the video the funds are for everybody who has a legitimate need. “
    We don’t have the Vatican backing us and million religious politicians and companies so we need to make use of that little support we have wisely.   

  14. “How do you spot a secularist on the street?”Just ask the people first: Do you believe God punished you with a Hurricane? .. when they say yes, we shouldn’t help them because that would be an immoral thing to do. The Punishment must proceed!!! 😛

  15. At least a donation to this secular charity would be put to better use than to a religious charity, who may only issue help through their local church, or to replace their waterlogged bibles – so the homeless faithful can go and study why their loving god punished them in this way. 

  16. ‘…We’re starting out with supporting our own networks first…’. Did you somehow miss the bias, favoritism, or discrimination is this? There ought not to be a ‘first’. How is this different than Baptists helping Baptists first? As much as I intensely dislike both the Vatican and religious politicians, there has been no ‘screening’ of  religious affiliation or secularism in providing aid to these victims. Making this into an issue of either sort is repulsive (and clearly hypocritical).

  17. SupérNova wrote
    “It’s not just for “secular” people, read and understand”

    If it is not, then I have misunderstood but I will state that the plea comes across as a very heavy “help our own kind” type of plea. That is all the religious need to turn this into a media BS-athon. I find that ownkindism is a larger part of the problem rather than solution. 

    Don’t forget, as well, that you are dealing with people (at least myself) who don’t always belong to groups and kinds. I am not a member of any group, anywhere (other than my rugby club), and I don’t identify with any particular political, social or cultural direction (it’s all just white noise). I care about people doing what appears to be the right thing for what appears to be good reasons.

    I’m sure that we can find a way for the secular voice to be heard as a positive force for all of the victims of Sandy. As it stands, were I a journalist with a desire to make secularist look like shit, I just got handed a rough gem I can shape anyway I want.

    Secular charity says no to religious
    Atheists refuse  religious Sandy victims
    No room for religion at atheist charity
    “Pray for help”: atheists tell religious 

    Of course, these are bullshit. Aren’t they?

  18. Are these the only two options? There are many relief organizations that are not affiliated with any sort of religion. The American Red Cross is one of the many. One was formed last night called ‘Restore the Shore’, which was organized by musicians and artists at the Jersey Shore. They have 1048 members that have joined in its first 24 hours. I think it’s safe to say that there are a great number of secularists amongst this group. (In fact, I know many of them, and can guarantee it). Don’t feel the necessity to poll them one by one before donating, however.

    In regard to replacement of their water-logged Bibles…the east coast is under water and on fire in many places. Though they may care about the Bibles later, it is unreasonable to think that this is their primary concern at the moment. And hell, no!—I’m not allowing my donation to go to Bible purchases either. I think there’s a need for rational thought regarding this right about now.

  19. – “Pray for help”: atheists tell religious –

    LOL! I quite like that one 😀

  20. Hi Christine,

    You are right, there are many options, but I was comparing against religious charities.  I remember studies that show religious institutions use only small percentages of income for charity, usually accompanied by proselytizing in some form, so I am biased.  When I donate to charity, I make sure that there is no wasting of large amounts for ‘administration’, propaganda, or indoctrination before/while getting the needed help.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if faith organization relief was directed at present or potential members. That is why I said that relief or supplies “may only be issued through their local church”.  Even if the replacement of bibles was far down the list, that’s not where disaster relief should end up, while my point was about why their almighty god punished them so.

    I support some & encourage all secular groups – not just atheist ones – engaged in humanitarian efforts, both at home & abroad.  Since religions have so many members donating heavily to their coffers, secular or atheist groups have a difficult time trying to compete – although there have been successes recently, and the pace is picking up.

    I’ve had 3 vacations with US family at oceanfront homes in Tom’s River, Manasquan & Cape May, so I have personal sadness about the damage there, and I send my best wishes to all those affected.

  21. Hey CdnMacAtheist, 

    I avoid giving to charities as much as possible. I don’t think it’s morally appropriate to deal with huge and serious problems through begging. I prefer to vote for the party that isn’t trying to buy my vote with pathetic tax cuts that will mean nothing to the people that get it but deprive society as a whole. Remember Alberta Ralph Kline’s $500 rebate – ooooh thanks you drunken lout!I reserve my charity giving to problems that need their profile raised, like the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” campaign. It’s not about the money required to solve an insurmountable problem it’s about raising awarness that beating your wife is not acceptable in society.The recent survey that showed only fucking 50% of donations to the American Cancer Society go to cancer research helped cement my views. Conservatives are always complain about governments wasting money and want to save a few bucks in federal taxes but if you want to see real waste try charities.

    Also does you name mean you are atheistic to Macs or that you’re an atheist that loves them?

  22. I’m guessing it means that he is an atheist living in Canada, and of Scottish descent. Just a guess. : )

  23. Hello CdnMacAtheist,

    Thanks so much for the clarification—it’s truly appreciated.

    I agree. I would be quite wary of making donations to any religious charity. This would apply to the American Red Cross, as well (due to the high salaries that the administration often receives). I share your bias.

    I still have the issue with all of this that I originally stated, though. Donations being applied to secularists FIRST is not only an illogical proposition, but places us on par with religious groups. And I really do think that it’s terribly important that we create positive awareness of our efforts. We have long been accused of lacking in ‘virtues’, as these only come from god, right? This is a perfect opportunity to dispel that insane myth.

    Additionally, it raises other hypothetical issues. One scenario that comes to mind is in an ER setting. Two patients come in with equally serious conditions. One is a Christian, and one is an atheist. There is only one doctor available, and he or she is a Christian. Is it ethical/moral to help the Christian first? Of course not. You can imagine many other similar scenarios.

    I’ve actually seen this particular scenario played out. When Christopher Hitchens was dying at MD Anderson Cancer Center here in Houston, I visited him several times (we met at the TX Freethought Convention here). As Houston is in the Bible Belt, most of his nurses and doctors were definitely religious. Of course, all were aware that Christopher was an atheist. This never affected his level of care. And then there was Francis Collins—a devout Christian that Christopher received an experimental treatment from. While laughing at all those prayers he was receiving, he was also grateful for the compassion and kindess shown to him.

    Having any bias in terms of the belief or non-belief of those needing assistance is just wrong. We cannot criticize the religious groups displaying a preference for their own members if we are going to engage in the same awful tactics. We’re better than that. Or, I thought we were…

    I grew up on the Jersey Shore, and virtually all of my closest friends are still there. One of them is a strict Catholic who is an officer in the National Guard. A victim’s religious beliefs have never entered his mind as he’s worked around the clock and saved lives. (He and I used to be lifeguards in Manasquan—our paths may have crossed!). I buried my father  in a cemetary in Cape May last year. I’m reasonably certain  his remains have been washed out into the Atlantic. So yeah…this all strikes a personal chord with me. But even if it didn’t, my argument would remain the same. We cannot and ought not  discriminate in helping those that are suffering based upon whether or not they’re an ‘open’ secularist.

    I am starting a secularist charity auction on Ebay within the next day or so. I’ll be donating several items…beginning with a signed copy of Professor Dawkins’ ‘Magic of Reality’. (And no, I DON’T want to part with it, dammit!). Lots of folks have offered their support for this. 100% of the proceeds will go to the victims of the Jersey Shore—belief systems will not be addressed.  This will be administered by a local well-known musician there. If anyone is interested, I’ll provide details shortly.

    Again, thank you for responding, CdnMacAtheist. I’m feeling a bit better about this discussion. 🙂

  24. I must have my wires crossed -wouldn’t be the first time- because that’s not how I see it.

    Imagine that you head a secular group that meets twice a month.  You have a meeting tonight.  At tonight’s meeting you plan on asking for donations to help people involved in a secular organization in NJ that you’ve been in contact with.
     Is that excluding others?  Is that how you want to frame such activities?  

    I don’t, and I can’t figure out why you’re saying the things you are.    

    Nobody is asking us to make a decision between a person of faith and not, they are asking us to help people involved in organizations we care about who have also been affected by this storm.  Or, to donate to secular organizations that are also helping everyone.


    I think if an organization does not help its peers during a crisis then its members should fire the directors.  -right?

  25. Hi, Christine L & Alaskansee. I ‘Like’ both your comments above. I’m very choosy who my Humanity Donations go to, since I’m retired on a small pension, but RDFRS sees what I can spare when I’m buying books at the Store.
    I’m Scots born, came to Ontario ’52-’57 then parents split up, back to Scotland, then England ’70-’74, back to Toronto area since ’74. My middle name is MacKenzie & I’m called Mac – which means ‘son of’ plus my Dad was also a lifelong Atheist – hence CdnMacAtheist…. Hey, it’s complicated, eh…. 😎

  26. Hi Sean,

    I’m not sure how I can further explain this without sounding pedantic.

    The analogy you have provided is not valid. We’re not talking about a scholarship fund here. Yes, organizations help their sister/brother organizations in variuos ways all the time. This is different.

    We are indeed making a decision to provide disaster relief  funds to those of no faith BEFORE providing it to those of faith. First of all, there is no way to make a determination regarding whether or not one is a secularist. Unless they’re carrying an SSA card, wear an ‘A’ lapel pin, etc., how do you know? Are you suggesting asking them first?

    Secondly, why does it matter? It shouldn’t matter to religious groups, right? Why should it matter to us? Again, we’re talking about a horrific disaster. Our standards must be higher than those of the sanctimonious. The alternative is that we become sanctimonious.

    Of course, we must help our peers. We must attempt to help all of those that need assistance.

    I’m not going to tell a mother whose child has drowned that I won’t help to provide funds for a funeral because she happens to believe in a deity. There should be no exclusions. It’s as simple as that. And it has been clearly stated that secularists will be helped FIRST in this endeavor.

  27. Thanks for the clarification, I’m the opposite, Canadian born, brought up in Scotland, back to Canada in my late 20’s.

    I’m atheistic about Mac’s, I don’t “believe” they work as well as the members of the cult do.

  28. Alaskansee:  Which of the main Mac cult groups do you mean – Apple or McDonalds…. 😎 I’m indifferent to those memeplexes, although my 3 atheist siblings in UK are Apple Macists !!
    I had issues transferring PC stuff into their Macs – but then I’ve also dribbled Big Mac Special Sauce during a download.  Ok … I’m a McLaren F1 Supercar Faithhead, but then, look at the evidence….

  29. >I buried my father in a cemetary in Cape May last year. I’m reasonably certain his remains have been washed out into the Atlantic.

    The City of Cape May is fine and for the most part so is the County of Cape May.  Manasquan was hit pretty hard though. 

    Most of the damage done along the Jersey Shore was done by the storm ‘surge’ or ‘swell’ which was worse North of the eye of the hurricane which made landfall near Atlantic City.  Obviously, Cape May is the Southern most part of NJ. 


  30. Hi Jersey Devil–

    Thanks so much for this! This is actually the Veteran’s Cemetary is CM Court House. I got an email message from the Cape May Herald editor, who said that they still don’t know anything about the condition of the graves.

    But…with everything going on with everyone, this is a minor consideration, I guess. And yes…much worse further up the shore.

    If you’re in Jersey, hoping you’ve fared well.


  31. Hi Christine,

    Yes, I’ve lived in NJ my whole life and I’m never moving!!!  I’m fine, though I haven’t had a hot shower in a week!!!  I live in Essex County and our main problem is utility failure. 

    Thanks for your concern. 

    My parents live in West Cape May and they say it’s back to normal life, believe it or not.  That’s not far from CM Court House – which is inland a bit.  I belong to a civic organization that is involved with veteran related charities so I’ll check up on the cemetary you mentioned when I’m down there for Thanksgiving.  If there is any damage I’ll put a request for a donation for restoration. 


  32. Hi Bob,

    I’m hoping you’ve gotten your power back on and have had a good long hot shower as I write this! I have another friend in Essex Cty. that is still without power. I’m glad your parents are okay.

    As I’d mentioned, I’m from Jersey, as well (raised in Princeton, then lived in Asbury for years). I miss it everyday, and it breaks my heart that so many are suffering. Fortunately, there are so many relief funds that have now been set up, that much help is on its way (not affiliated with any religious organization or secularist, for that matter. Their moral compasses are pointing in the right direction).

    Coincidentally, my father lived in West Cape May also before his death. I was finally able to get in touch with the Marine Corp League detachment that he was affiliated with for many years yesterday, and they confirmed that the cemetary is fine (high ground). But I can’t thank you enough for offering to help, had there been any extensive damage. I’m coming up myself on the 14th (need a decent pizza). : )

    I am hoping that our secularist/atheist community has reconsidered its position, and will provide assistance to those that need it most—regardless of belief systems.

    Keeping good thoughts for you!


  33. Thank you Christine, I understand your position better now.  I think the problem is that you and I are imagining two very different situations.  The examples you provided of dilemmas to be avoided simply don’t emerge, in my opinion, from what has been requested in this video or from these efforts. 

    That being said, it’s none of my business what anyone does to help, and I hope I didn’t give the impression that I think it’s a mistake to not give here.  My objection is to the finger wagging.  


    BTW, I’m definitely adding this,

    I’m not sure how I can further explain this without sounding pedantic.

    to the short list of interesting ways I’ve been called thick.  Probably right beneath, 

    You haven’t got the sense God gave a goose.

    mostly true 😉

  34. Hi Sean,

    The only situation that I objected to is the clear one that was stated. ‘…to help those IN OUR SECULAR COMMUNITIES who have been displaced, hurt, or otherwise adversely affected by this storm.’

    When I first heard the video on Texas Freethought’s  Facebook site (before it appeared here), I asked for clarification of the policy from TFC directly. I received a prompt reply back, stating that secularists would be helped FIRST, and others with a ‘ legitimate’ (odd word to use) need afterwards. There is no ambiguity here, and imagination is not required in understanding how the donations were intended to be dispersed.

    In terms of ‘finger-wagging’, well, yeah…I’ll exercise my desire to do so if I see a policy that is exclusionary in helping any victims of any disaster. I’ve ‘wagged my finger’ at many religious groups that have exercised the same sort of policies. I’m just terribly disappointed to have had to do so within my own secularist/atheist communities. I was not happy about redirecting my comrades here in Houston, as well as those in the northeast, to other relief programs. I would have greatly preferred for their donations to go to an organization with a stated platform of secularism and non-theism. I could have then taken great satisfaction in pointing out to the morons that insist that we cannot have ethics or morals without god that we have indeed demonstrated this through our disaster relief effort. As it stands, I’ll be dodging the rocks being thrown at me by my opponents in a debate at my university tomorrow regarding this assertion—due to the stated intention of helping secularists first.

    ‘You haven’t got the sense that God gave a goose’. Funny…my mother always said to me, ‘If you had a brain you’d be dangerous’.  (Thanks for the smile by bringing up that memory). Maybe we can get a list started! In any event, I never thought— or meant to imply that you were ‘thick’!

    Thanks, Sean.


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