This could be horribly redundant: Donations to Charity that won’t be tied to belief

Dec 21, 2013


Discussion by: Bradv

I just watched a debate between Christopher Hitchens (I miss him too) and Rabbi Wolpe from 2010.  One of the points the Rabbi tried to score with was that people of faith donate more than atheists.  I think he may right statistically speaking and that's because we atheists donate to the Red Cross or Medecins sans Frontiers and never think to identify ourselves as non-believers. Because why would we?  We're just people trying to help other people.  During the debate, Mr. Hitchens mentioned that he and Mr. Dawkins had raised 2M USD for Haiti after the earthquake there via donations from atheists and other free thinkers.  Is anyone out there aware of this and could you point me in the right direction (Uncle Google has failed)?  I donate on a regular basis to those in need but I would love it if those donations could be counted as coming from someone who isn't doing that to get a good seat in the after life.  

16 comments on “This could be horribly redundant: Donations to Charity that won’t be tied to belief

  • The hypocritical claim that atheists don’t contribute to charity as much as christians is the epitome of the straw man argument.

    Conservative christians are the first in line to demand cuts on social programs that keep single mothers, who didn’t get an abortion, under the threshold of poverty. But that’s not important right now, let’s talk about the war on Christmas! (indignantly flailing arms) /sarcasm

    Edit: Dayum! at the same minute I posted this, rdf news feed posted an article making the same point (though, they did it better) http://www.www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/12/21/it-s-conservatives-who-really-want-christ-out-of-christmas-the-daily-beast#



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  • The Richard Dawkins Foundation set up something called Non-Believers Giving Aid. It just funnelled money to some of the charities you already mentioned. I can see the link with google but it seems to be broken. Not sure if that is permanent or temporary.



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  • 3
    Kim Probable says:

    I think I recall one of those studies about giving noting that religious people are generally giving to their church and that money tends to largely go to church operations and salaries.



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  • 4
    David R Allen says:

    To be altruistic does require a religious gun at your head. To be a good person, does not require the threat of eternal damnation. It’s just commonsense. Like you, I donate to a variety of charities, some I have supported for 30 years. I am an atheist, but I also donate to the Salvation Army, because they not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk and get their hand dirty with their charity work. Out amongst the homeless, drug users and prostitutes. If there was a message from Jesus in the bibles, the Salvo’s have got it. Not the catholics with their massive gilt churches and cathedrals. Just direct charity. ( I am pure atheist from when I got kicked out of Sunday School when I was under 10 for asking too many difficult questions. It just didn’t make sense.)

    I recently went deep into the Amazon and was disturbed by an experience with a local village. A squad of obese American evangelicals were going from village to village. They were donating stuff to the schools and helping with water purification equipment. All good. But the price the native villagers had to pay was conversion to fire and brimstone bible thumping American fundamentalist view of the world. I saw a number of “churches” with Spanish inscriptions that indicated they were evangelical churches. I attended a village meeting where the “missionaries’ where delivering their message from the high table. Hasn’t the church learnt anything in the last 1000 years. LEAVE THE NATIVES ALONE. The disruption and confusion you bring to a native village talking about stuff they are unlikely to understand well enough to make a judgement, causes social disruption and confusion. You factionalize the village. You cause them to discard valued traditions and cultures. So yes, “We the missionaries will give you charity, but the price you pay will be the loss of your native identity.”

    It also got me thinking about the act of giving charity. I formed the view that it should be given unconditionally, with no strings attached. You choose the charity, but that is it. Yes, the native village could use water purification. Yes, the school could use resources. Give by all means, but stand quietly away in the shadows and expect no kudos or recognition. Do not impose your culture on these people. Do not expect to sit at the high table and be praised and sung to by the school kids, which is what I saw in the village.



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  • Yet in the news right now (among us,anyway) are the reports of atheists’ donations of money and time being refused by, among others, Morton Grove, Illinois and that town in South Carolina.



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  • 6
    Russell W says:

    I suppose the basic premise here is: “see, religion has produced these good fruits, therefore, religion is more than likely both good and true.” The logical fallacy should be plain enough, but sadly for many it isn’t. Religion has indeed produced some good, including some beautiful art and music; it has also produced a great number of ills, communal and individual — neither, however, are proofs of either the truth or falsehood of religion, so I see no real reason to bring it up.

    It’s a telling thing to me that religionists often feel the need to rely on arguments for the pragmatic value of religion — “religion promotes charity work” or “religion gives people a sense of purpose in life” for example — as opposed to arguments for the beliefs and proclaimed “truths” of religion itself. In my opinion this is because there really are very few such arguments to be offered and what arguments there are are often extremely weak and break down.



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  • 7
    Russell W says:

    In reply to #6 by Russell W:

    I suppose the basic premise here is: “see, religion has produced these good fruits, therefore, religion is more than likely both good and true.” The logical fallacy should be plain enough, but sadly for many it isn’t. Religion has indeed produced some good, including some beautiful art and music; it…

    I should clarify that when I say I see no real reason to bring it up, I do not mean for discussion here. I mean as an argument.



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  • 8
    Nordic11 says:

    I’m a Christian. I support poor children in Africa and Eastern Europe every month. I do it out of compassion. No religious gun to the head. No thought of more eternal rewards or less punishment. It pains me to think of the abject poverty in this world. Who cares who gives more. All of us living in the wealthy West need to give more than we do.



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  • 9
    crookedshoes says:

    Theists document their donations and seek credit for them. The rest of us do the right thing because it is the right thing.



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  • 10
    crookedshoes says:

    Nordic,
    And, i think, you are not alone. Many many Christian folks are kind and generous and, like you, compassionate and aware of the suffering in the world and willing to help to try to change it (the world). Please do not misconstrue my last post as to “blanketing” all christians. My wife is the finest person i’ve ever known and the world is a much better place because she is here, and she is a Catholic. I do not want to come off as painting with too broad a brush.

    Good people are everywhere, they are just not “newsworthy” so it seems that the bad choices people make are escalating in both frequency and atrocity. But, standing in a church no more makes you a good person than standing in a garage makes you a car.

    In reply to #8 by Nordic11:

    I’m a Christian. I support poor children in Africa and Eastern Europe every month. I do it out of compassion. No religious gun to the head. No thought of more eternal rewards or less punishment. It pains me to think of the abject poverty in this world. Who cares who gives more. All of us livi…



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  • 11
    crookedshoes says:

    I would not give a red penny to the Salvation Army. Their stance on homosexuals and vocal calls for KILLING gay folks is enough for me to want them to disappear.

    And, i will go one further, if I see a bell ringer, I let them know just what they are standing for.

    In reply to #4 by David R Allen:

    To be altruistic does require a religious gun at your head. To be a good person, does not require the threat of eternal damnation. It’s just commonsense. Like you, I donate to a variety of charities, some I have supported for 30 years. I am an atheist, but I also donate to the Salvation Army, be…



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  • 12
    Nordic11 says:

    No offense taken.

    Enjoy your evening.In reply to #10 by crookedshoes:

    Nordic,
    And, i think, you are not alone. Many many Christian folks are kind and generous and, like you, compassionate and aware of the suffering in the world and willing to help to try to change it (the world). Please do not misconstrue my last post as to “blanketing” all christians. My wife is t…



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  • 13
    David R Allen says:

    In reply to #11 by crookedshoes:
    Their stance on homosexuals and vocal calls for KILLING gay folks is enough for me to want them to disappear.
    In reply to #4 by David R Allen:…
    We must live in different countries, because here, their doors are open to all. If they said “KILLING gay folks” in public here, the uproar when drive them from our shores. Interesting though that regional differences exist in religions. I would have thought world wide, that they’d all be reading from the same script. I much prefer the humbleness low profile ego of the Salvo’s to god bedecked others responsible for millions of deaths from AIDS in Africa. Same old church. Same old genocide.
    My views were formed from my professional time, when I had dealings with the Salvo’s, who came in and swept the streets. It might be a case of the “Singer, not the Song.” The individuals I had contact with where people I regarded as worthy of respect.



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  • 14
    mmurray says:

    In reply to #13 by David R Allen:

    In reply to #11 by crookedshoes:
    Their stance on homosexuals and vocal calls for KILLING gay folks is enough for me to want them to disappear.
    In reply to #4 by David R Allen:…
    We must live in different countries, because here, their doors are open to all. If they said “KILLING gay folks” in pub…

    If you search the internet you will easily find the killing gays quote from a Salvation Army official. It is not official Salvation Army policy. However official Salvation Army still is against marriage equality and homosexual activity. Active homosexuals are not allowed to be full members of the Salvation Army. You can read all this on their website if you dig around a bit or you can read the comments around here from someone who I assume represents Salvation Army UK.

    I respect the work they do but not all their beliefs.

    Michael



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  • 15
    crookedshoes says:

    David,
    Their stance was clearly stated and outlined right here on Dawkins in a story from a while back.

    The Salvation Army has expressed their Christian beliefs in the past, stating that they do not accept the LGBTQ lifestyle, nor do they stand up for gay marriage. Salvation Army went on record recently, stating that LGBTQ parents should be put to death as the bible instructs. Major Andrew Craibe, a Salvation Army Media Relations Director, went on public radio hosted by journalist Serena Ryan, to discuss a recent call by LGBTQ parents for a boycott of the nonprofit for its anti-gay policies and beliefs.

    Ryan questioned Craibe about Salvation Story: Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine, the manual used to train Salvation Army “soldiers” and members. Several chapters refer to the sin of homosexuality, including a section that cites Romans 1:18-32, which includes a admonition that homosexuals “deserved to die”

    If you read through the thread (@ http://www.www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/6/10/salvation-army-says-gays-need-to-be-put-to-death), you’ll see the guy mentioned in the article itself, actually did spew some hate. However, a little google search and some reading reveals that there is some amount of “rogue” to his comments and that (it seems) the S.A. did try to distance themselves from the hate speech.

    So, I guess I am not on extremely firm footing with crapping on the whole organization. However, I also would not want my money to go to a charity that harbors people who speak like this about other human beings. From what I (more recently) have read they seem like the group that you describe. But, I am not so sure.

    Anyway, my jury is still out, but i am learning and leaning more towards your stance. Thanks for making me read and google and think and learn.

    In reply to #13 by David R Allen:

    In reply to #11 by crookedshoes:
    Their stance on homosexuals and vocal calls for KILLING gay folks is enough for me to want them to disappear.
    In reply to #4 by David R Allen:…
    We must live in different countries, because here, their doors are open to all. If they said “KILLING gay folks” in pub…



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