Atheist group faces questions over how donations were raised — and spent

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Amanda Brown, right, and Sarah Nessel of Kansas City, Mo., talk to visitors of the Kansas City Atheist Coalition's table at Skepticon in Springfield, Mo., as part of Brown's "We Are Atheism" campaign. Religion News Service photo by Mark Schiefelbein

Amanda Brown, right, and Sarah Nessel of Kansas City, Mo., talk to visitors of the Kansas City Atheist Coalition's table at Skepticon in Springfield, Mo., as part of Brown's "We Are Atheism" campaign. Religion News Service photo by Mark Schiefelbein

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(RNS) An atheist group that raised funds after national disasters is facing questions about its tax-exempt promises to donors and how the money was spent.

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  • “If this was a church we would never find out where the money went. But….our members accountable.”

    I agree completely.
    The Vatican Bank alone is an official house of mirrors. And Evangelicals like Osteen prey on the poor openly for themselves and without accountability and without having to pay taxes.

    In this case the duplicity was stopped early – before the donations hit large numbers. I find that very encouraging.

    And I’m very glad they have a real accountant going forward with an open book.
    Take notes, Religion!

  • Pingback: Atheist group faces questions over how donations were raised — and spent | Jews & Muslims()

  • Larry

    You sound just like a preacher. Any act is considered good if you can claim God says so. Taking advantage of the weak and stupid is the stock and trade of religion peddlers.

    Be Brave, you post some of the most malicious, nasty, immoral crap out there. If you are an example of the morality of Christianity, then atheists should feel lucky not to be associated with the likes of you.

  • Be Brave,

    Where do you think you get your morals from? God? But God is not real. So your claims are all secular – no better than mine.

    Is your God not just another secular, man made creation? Then prove it!

  • Be Brave,

    Churches and religions are all secular creations. There is no ‘god’ at the head of that table. Your morality is not divine – unless you can prove it – which you apparently cannot.

    Name a single moral act which can only be done by Godly people.
    You won’t find one.

    Name a single immoral act which can only be done by Godly people – you’ve already thought of several!

    God is just an immoral illusion created by men who want their immoral ideas blessed by a god.

    Religion is bunk.

  • James Carr

    I couldn’t say it better, BB !

    Imagine a group of atheists caught doing immoral things? Oh, wait, morality is redefined daily by them.

    Atheists are so entertaining.

  • Knight

    Yeah us evil evil people, raising money to help people. Ha!

    So has the Pope hired enough people to polish the gold candle sticks yet?

  • Knight


    What does that have to do with his article or his comment?

    Even if everything you said is wrong, it does not make anything he said wrong. So if you goal was to smear someones name, I guess you got him good. If your goal was to defend your belief, well, you didn’t do so well there.

  • Knight

    Typo…. meant “Even if everything you said is right, …”

  • Re: “Since the godless have no moral compass other than egomania and some kind of self recognized pride, how did anyone in this group do anything wrong?”

    Ah. The old “non-believers are amoral” trope. So nice of you to bring it up. Too bad it’s just religionists’ B.S. Railing and fuming that non-believers are all amoral, doesn’t make them amoral. It just means religionists like you don’t like them. Too bad so sad for you … non-believers exist, and they aren’t going anywhere. The mature thing to do is to accept it and move on with your life, instead of lying about others in order to make yourself feel better.

  • Todd Stiefel

    Be Brave,

    The answer is right in front of you. I’m an atheist, yet I knew that the group had done something wrong. I and other atheists spend dozens of hours researching this issue and helping bring it to light. Why would we do this if we could not see right from wrong? The answer is we do have morality, just like others do. Your assumptions of lack of ethical codes is false.

  • Jon

    Transparency – it’s so important. Here we have Atheists helping to expose and clean up disorganized funds. Note that the charity money still went to charities, but sometimes the wrong ones, and that a filing with the IRS was late.

    Compare that to many churches, where the full details of the transactions are kept secret, with much of the charity money going to clergy and spent on bling, all of it above the law with no required disclosure, covered up by Christians.

    What a stark difference. Anyone who will criticize the Atheist charity here without agreeing that they are much better than many Christian churches is simply a hypocrite.

    Thanks, Mehta! (and Max, who, as he has many times in the past, helped everyone see things clearly.)

  • Be Brave


    Um, obviously I recognize the godless exist. You did read my post right? And sociopaths exist, psychotics exists, rapists exist.

    And some godless people parrot the good that God has established in the actions of the Godly. Of course they do. They cannot escape their genesis or by Whom and What created it.

    Now just realize the idiocy of the demands that everything in the universe was created by trillions and trillions and trillions of material accidents bumping into each other to so how create the outraged atheist. Have a good laugh and then think about why we would take anything serious from a bunch of animated dirt things saying they can have a moral compass created by nothing.

    Atheism is the expression of the pouty child that realized that once teething and puberty goes by, you can stay just as selfish as the common three-year old. And, get a PhD to say it’s so. Of course . . . take atheism seriously. It is historically very deadly for uncountable millions.

  • Be Brave

    I beg to differ. You now parrot the morality brought to modern society by Judeo-Christian ethics. Other than that, materialism cannot produce a single act of morality. Unless of course you think killing and eating a limping gazelle, is wonderful. Helping the weak and sick, something materialists do undertake, is actually natural hypocrisy.

    Like it or not, atheism means you are an animated dirt thing. Not a person, not a individual with inalienable rights, just dust and water moving around somedemanding things somehow.

    It is laughable to the extreme and the logical, to hear the demand for the proof of God, when the materialist cannot even prove how they can ask the question in the first place. We are star dust? Uh yup. We are star dust that can claim outrage? Sorry man, my calculator says godlessness is idiocy.

    Hate Jesus and Christians to your hearts content, but don’t for a second believe you have found an enlightenment that we can’t comprehend and of course, reject on…

  • Ugh

    This article is an excellent example of why I appreciate atheists. The comments, however, are precisely why I can’t stand more than one of you speaking at a time. Everyone trying to dig in with their favorite platitude to rebut the next guy, while patting yourself on the shoulder. Reading atheists comments is like watching old black and white film of men running off a cliff, flapping their arms, trying to get their flying maching to take flight.

  • Be Brave

    If we are to be moved by one Christian that renounced Christ, then we should equally embrace Christ by ever person that announces Him.

    I was once an atheist. A real one. Now I see the sensible math in a universe that isn’t silly accidents bumping into each other in the dark. To somehow become light and matter.

    Atheism is a pathetic scream not to have to think deeply about “everything.”

    The mouthy atheist troll here (and placed around the web to harass Christians), OK, oh well. But what’s laughable is that he (and they) puff out that they are somehow “freethinkers” when they are plodding along as goofy troops in a homogenized mob of rabble rousers and rude and hateful kooks.

    Look, I get mad that bad things happen to good people. And good things happen to bad people. But neither good or bad can exist in a mindless universe. Just face that fact and move on to live a godless life until you are returned to accidentally created non-animated dust.

  • Be Brave

    Wow. OK that’s it.

    With your passionate treatise I’m an atheist now.

    Well sort of.

    I don’t believe that you are god.

  • Be Brave


    You are fading fast.

    If you think THAT was proof of materialism, please get some Hitchens, Harris and Dennett books fast, cut and paste some weighty arguments (I LOVE Hitchens still) and regurgitate the Bobby Ingersoll mantras in these comments.

    These last ones of yours shows you’re only tool is vitriol. And that’s truly weak pal. Christians like the persecution routine don’t they?

    Notice I left out Dawkins because he’s pretty idiotic when you listen to him.

    But study to “show yourself approved” and get back to us with some really impressive arguments like “Why are babies born blind?”

    But then again, who cares in a materialistic universe? Per nature.

    yada yada etc., etc..

  • James Carr

    I believe he has.

  • James Carr

    Oh, they’re going somewhere. I suggest Coppertone and ice water be always on hand.

  • James Carr

    Good answer, BB.

  • James Carr

    Keep it up, BB !

  • Larry

    Todd, you are being far too rational with a person who is obvious a hateful troll looking for excuses to smear atheists.

  • Larry

    “So what you are saying is that I shouldn’t be nasty and insulting like the atheists. Hmm, I must take issue with that. ”

    Of course you would. Any malicious act is permitted if you think God is on your side. Christian morality is a joke. You morons use God to excuse discrimination, child molestation, rape, murder, genocide, slavery. Is there anything which is forbidden? Of course not. With selective recitation of Bible quotes all is permitted.

    You guys can’t even be trusted with democratic political power. The minute Bible thumpers get into office they start trashing civil liberties and rule of law.

  • Larry

    You know, some of the nastiest, most vile, most malicious stuff being said here are by those people who consider themselves followers of Christ. Especially towards atheists, but also other faiths or anyone who believes differently from themselves.

    Your comment is exactly the kind of hypocritical nonsense one comes to expect from critics of atheists here. Empty, pointless, hypocritical and nasty.

  • Larry

    Just get a room with BB, Jimmy. If BB happens to be male, then just deny your attraction in public and continue. It worked for Ted Haggard, it could work for you. 🙂

  • Be Brave is clearly not able to present a valid case. Max is right. Morals and ethics are technologies which emerge, adapt, and help us to survive and thrive within a social and physical environment. Ancient peoples worshiped the sun and physical environment b/c they were so dependent on agricultural cycles. Christianity worships mass consensus and collective emotional experience, which can help maintain complex societies and foster economic growth, but the gods made by Christians and others are mere constructs of those people. The morality of a nomadic people is different from the morality of an agrarian people which is different from a capitalist, urban people. We adopt beliefs which help us survive in a wider world which we have little control over.

  • Be Brave


    Seriously dude? C’mon now, vile and disgusting language is the sole property of the “freethinkers” here and everywhere else they interact with Christians. Try a little honesty OK?

    “Empty, pointless, hypocritical and nasty.”

    Atheist demands are delivered truly NOT empty. They are FULL of hate, vitriol and disdain for Christians. Completely full.

    Pointless? Their points are to eliminate the free speech rights of every Christian in America and to drive as many Christians into silence as they can. By hook or by lawsuits. But of course . . . Christians, the atheists demand, can speak behind closed doors and utterly out of society. No free exchange of ideas allowed. NONE. Per the First Amendment right?

    Hypocritical? As hypocritical as a Jihadist doing their dedicated thing. Nothing hypocritical about atheism being plied in staying on the path of hate and vitriol and of course belittlin

    And nasty? True to form there as well.

    You need a more clear…

  • Pure argument from ignorance is what you presented there, “Be Brave”, and that’s not a brave argument. Nor is it a valid one.

  • What a despicable thing to say. You are a typical angry Christian.

  • MarkE

    “But Mehta sees it as more of an opportunity than a smear.

    “Churches don’t have to do this,” he said, referring to disclosing how their donations are spent. “If this was a church we would never find out where the money went. But we have that luxury in our movement to hold our members accountable.” ”

    In my church, the budgets and financial reports are open to everyone. Audit reports also. Our judicatories finances are also transparent. Even salaries of pastors and staff are public – does that happen anywhere else?

  • Be Brave, your insulting tone doesn’t help your already weak case. Your arguments thus far stem mainly from flawed premises and established fallacies, and they fail.

  • Looking up at the comments, “Be Brave”, I’d say that you are more nasty than Larry. You are quite typical of your tribe.

  • Snide remarks like that really don’t reflect well on your group.

  • Larry

    Shorter BB: “Oh no, someone doesn’t believe like I do, I am being attacked!!! Get my fainting couch and smelling salts”

  • Like everyone else I’m in favor of proper financial management and transparency, especially in the secular movement where I’ve invested my own time and money. But how disappointing to see so much attention paid to this one small group (in the national media, no less) when organizations with 7-figure budgets slide past public scrutiny. WAA did mismanage its funds, probably more from its leaders being in over their heads than any fraudulent intent, but big groups with much larger budgets have done worse and yet been allowed to handle their problems (or not) internally. The one incident that was made public, the embezzlement of ~$80K at the Secular Coalition for America, was preceded by sloppy financial oversight, questionable staffing decisions, and board misgovernance dating back to at least 2009, several years before the crime, but was mentioned in media only as a side note to its ED’s firing. This story reads to me like a distraction from the real obstacles to movement…

  • James Carr

    His tone is less strident and more rational than atheist attacks here……and Larry, are you labeling BB and I ? That’s really not fair, constitutional, or legal, is it? Have the atheists revised morality again? Geez, that’s the 3rd time this week!

    Revising your bible must be a full time job, and Oy, the references needed !

  • Ugh

    Larry, nice of you to assume I’m not an atheist, but I am an atheist. All the same, I can’t stand the typical chatter among atheists. Then, I can’t stand the typical conversations that occur in any commenting forum— so perhaps my grievance isn’t with atheists but the nature of commentators in general.

    Perhaps that as an atheist, I expect a little too much. If you objectively read the comments, you’d find largely what I say is accurate. “Everyone trying to dig in with their favorite platitude to rebut the next guy, while patting yourself on the shoulder.”

    I don’t see where my remarks are empty, pointless, hypocritical, or nasty. Projecting much? But thanks for proving my point. Pointing the finger at “followers of christ” in regard to being the nastiest; that’s the biggest atheist cliche of them all. And to what end?

  • Be Brave,

    Your “God” is just you. And there isn’t anything humble about that.

    But you claim otherwise. Well, I reject the claim that you are getting morals from a god – you are referring to an old ‘holy’ book and deciding for yourself which morals to pluck out of it! LOL!

    Where is your evidence that your God isn’t just you?
    Where is your evidence that your ‘holy’ book is any better than a book of multiple choice?

    Your claim that a God exists (let alone one who hands you morals)
    is laughably dismissed for lack of evidence.

  • @James Carr,

    “please…cut and paste some weighty arguments”

    What? I don’t need weighty arguments.

    No argument is being proposed by me – I am dismissing your claim about a God existing. Gone. Done.

    Where is your god? How arrogant is it to make claims that something exists yet you do so without any evidence?

    Shouldn’t the supposed most powerful thing in the universe be demonstrable somehow??

    I’m not the one who needs weighty arguments – you are!!

  • @Be Brave,

    “Like it or not, atheism means you are an animated dirt thing.”

    Well, like it or not – if you believe in a god – you are just a puppet.
    And your God already knows whether you’ll go to Hell or not so he is just watching you suffer through this life for his sick entertainment.

    I’d rather be a dirt thing with dignity,
    than an abject puppet slave any day.

  • @James Carr,

    “his tone is less strident”

    You religious people claim – no, YOU INSIST – that everyone else must believe as you do otherwise the rest of us are not being HUMBLE ENOUGH!

    Good grief! Talk about strident! What nerve!

    And you have no evidence for this insistence – not a whiff!
    Where is your God? Where is the evidence?

    How dare you call anyone strident while you are the one making this preposterous claim and insisting that everyone follow you?

  • Chaplain Martin

    Thank you, Mary Ellen for bringing some reality to this discussion that has gone off the rails.
    Amanda Brown is a young person not experienced in the fund raising she was doing. I am sure she thought she was just taking care of the needs she saw. She needed more guidance in meeting the requirements of a 501c (3) organization. Of course the We Are Atheism must have transparency. When giving to any organization one should contact charity evaluation sites, like Charity Navigator.

    “Hemant Mehta on his popular Friendly Atheist blog.” Thank the Lord there is a friendly atheist, its difficult to believe that from reading the prior comments. Any organization which holds a 501c (3) status can be audited by the IRS.

    What Mark E. wrote is true. My church monthly shows just how the monies are spent.
    A lot is given to the local community, including individual members working in social service settings. Hey atheists, we can always use your help sacking food for the poor.

  • Ugh,

    “Reading atheists comments is like watching old black and white film of men running off a cliff…”

    What do you propose we do? We are being burned to death in some countries.

    Should we just keep our mouths shut and let the ‘humble’ Christians deny our women their rights over their own bodies?
    Should we say nothing while science classes are replaced with Creationist garbage?
    Should we be silent while Preists demand death to our friends and family?

    “The only cure for homosexuals is that they be put to death” –
    Pastor Robbie Galaty

    Tennessee Megachurch, Sept 4, 2014

    Laugh at me for running off a cliff? Congratulations.
    I guess your son isn’t gay.

    Or maybe you have no empathy for victims of religion.

  • “Hey atheists, we can always use your help sacking food for the poor.”

    Atheists give to such causes far more than believers do. Helping with a church drive is good but it is small potatoes.

    Jonas Salk gave away the Polio Vaccine as a gift to the world – he made no money off it.
    Paul Newman gave away all of the profits of Newman’s Own to poor sick children.
    Oscar Schindler saved poor Jews from the Holocaust – I see no reason to keep him off the list.
    Warren Buffett donates billions of dollars to help the poor.
    Bill Gates donates billions of dollars to eradicate poverty and Malaria.

    All the above are Atheists.
    But…What do the religious rich people do?

    Koch Brothers
    Sheldon Adelson
    Rupert Murdoch
    Osama bin Laden

    Religion is just a secular enterprise – man made. There is nothing ‘divine’ in it. If there were, there wouldn’t be any need in the world to begin with.

  • James Carr

    Oh, Maxie,
    Jesus is proof that God exists. God walked the earth as a human being for some 33 years, so what more tangible proof is needed? Scholars and historians of all stripes accept that Jesus existed, so if he is not who He said He is……who is he? How is it possible that a mythological invention changed history itself? Where is the PROOF that the Gospels are made up history? Where is the evidence from the Jews or Romans of the same time that refutes the Gospel accounts? How could a group of fishermen and uneducated followers concoct such a fantastic tale that has fooled the world for two thousand years?
    So, there is your proof. You disprove what the Gospels relate. You tell me that you know for sure that no eyewitness accounts are reliable or true. I have the documentation of the gospels that prove the existence of God through the life of Jesus. You provide me with equally reliable proof written at the same time that negates all Gospel accounts. I’ll wait.

  • “Jesus is proof that God exists.”

    Which Jesus?

    The one who was imagined by Paul’s epileptic seizure? That Jesus cannot be proof of anything because he is completely different from the Jesus of the other versions – that Jesus never even walked on earth!

    Or the other one which was written about by Thomas – knowingly fictionalized?
    Or the one written about by Mark, which was based on a powerless Jesus?
    Or the one written about by John – which never did any miracles?

    Why not believe all the Hercules stories too? There was a real man, Heracles, who inspired those fables – and there are lots of versions of Hercules. He rose from the dead also – before jesus!

    Romulus and Remus also were gods. As was Caesar – born of a virgin, rose up to heaven. Lots of people wrote about them too. Why not believe everything you hear?

  • James Carr

    Oh, so you have nothing at all to counter the Gospel Accounts from the 1st Century. Then God exists with tangible proof that atheists reject personally, not intellectually. I see.

    Never thought atheists were bright…-…now I have empirical evidence.

  • Be Brave

    Lar-dog…, Christian morality is parroted by materialists. Humanism is just plagiarism. Like it or not. Child molestation? You may want to look at the secular world of europe for the sex slave trade to be BIG BUSINESS.

    Rape? California had to pass a NEW law to stop rape at their places of secular higher education. Ya just can’t screw people that are asleep, drunk or passed out anymore in good ol’ liberal California.

    Murder? The godless-secularists simply did what all genocidal miscreants do. They dehumanized unborn human beings. And of course, murder them in the millions. Genocide? Encouraging the secular drug culture wipes out so many people it’s a plague. An encouraged plague. Slavery? Once again turn to secular Europe for that. How many women are “trapped” into porn and prostitution by slavers in new Europe? Is there anything which is forbidden in godless hedonistic secularism? Obviously only allowing Christians to speak freely in public about the horrors of a…

  • “you have nothing at all to counter the Gospel Accounts from the 1st Century.”

    There are none. There are no original copies of any Gospels from the 1st century.
    And there are no unbiased reports about Jesus in the first century.

    There is no reason to think any version of the Jesus character really existed. Almost everything he said and did is a replay of something in the Jewish Old Testament and the Mishna. In a primitive world where Zoroaster and Mithras were already being worshipped there is no reason to think the Jews would invent their own version of a dying and rising god – and they used their old testament to construct it.

    There is no reason to believe in Jesus. And many reasons not to.

  • Be Brave

    Look Dude,

    You can have whatever belief system you can invent. Hate and all. Your opinion is nothing more than wind from a dust person. You yourself declare that you are nothing but accidentally animated chemicals. And you think your opinion matters to me or anyone else? You don’t have opinions. You just have body reactions to stimuli.

    Here let me help you understand this:

    plural noun: stimuli
    a thing or event that evokes a specific functional reaction in an organ or tissue.

    Like flatulence in a room full of polite people, you are endured and ignored.

  • BB,

    No evidence for a god.
    But solid evidence we are star dust.

    Instead of your ad hominems – consider the likelihood there is more to this ‘dust’ than you ever cared to learn about.

  • James Carr

    So, you still have nothing, and I do ?

  • Conventional logic:
    “I have a baseball”
    Prove it!
    “Okay, here it is”.

    Religious logic:
    “I have a baseball”
    Prove it!
    “You can’t prove that I don’t!”

    Utter garbage.

  • James Carr

    Still nothing, right?

  • James I am not the one making claims. You are.
    You claim a god exists.

    Where is your evidence that a god exists?

    If you claim you have something but can’t show it – you would be lying about your claim.

    Where is your god? Show it.

  • Steve

    Religious people also constantly redefined by religious people. There’s none of you who follow all the morals of either the Tanakh or the Gospels, and to follow both would be impossible, since they contradict each other.

    Don’t believe me? Well, you think your Bible is true, so refer to your Bible. “All fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23; “There is none good, but God alone.” – Jesus.

    Don’t act like you are morally superior. Your religion tells you otherwise. If you do, you’re a fool or ignorant.