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In season of giving, atheist groups’ charity rebuffed

Members of Upstate Atheists distribute goods to the needy of Spartanburg, S.C. after their offer to help at a local, Christian-run soup kitchen was rebuffed. Photo courtesy of Eve Brannon of Upstate Atheists

(RNS) ‘Tis the season for giving — but not always for receiving.

As the holiday season peaks, atheist and humanist groups around the country have seen their charitable impulses rebuffed by both Christian and secular organizations. Recent incidents of “thanks, but no thanks,” include:

  • A group of Kansas City, Mo., nonbelievers was told their help was not needed after they volunteered to help a local Christian group distribute Thanksgiving meals.
  • A $3,000 donation to a Morton Grove, Ill., park, collected by a local atheist group, was returned. Park officials said they did not wish to “become embroiled in a First Amendment dispute.”
  • A group of Spartanburg, S.C., atheists  was denied the opportunity to help at a Christian-run soup kitchen. The soup kitchen’s executive director told local press she would resign before accepting the atheists’ help and asked, “Why are they targeting us?”

    A group of Kansas City Atheist Coalition volunteers participated in the global relief efforts of Heart to Heart International. Photo courtesy KCAC

    A group of Kansas City Atheist Coalition volunteers participated in the global relief efforts of Heart to Heart International. Photo courtesy of KCAC

And in what is perhaps the biggest rejection, the American Cancer Society, in 2011, turned away $250,000 from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to humanist causes. Though the society never cited atheism as the reason, many atheists drew that conclusion.

Dale McGowan, executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief, a humanist nonprofit, said his group’s grants have been rejected at least eight times. The foundation, which has given away $1.4 million, does not proselytize for nonbelief and requires that its beneficiaries — some with religious roots — do the same.

It starts with a “Gosh, thanks,” he said, and ends a few days later with “Thanks, but we can’t accept that.” McGowan thinks those who reject FBB’s grants — usually $10,000 each — worry about the perception of being associated with atheists.

And that, he said, is a mistake. “I don’t think most religious people give for the glory of God or because scripture tells them to. I think they give because they are good-hearted people and they feel empathy for others, and that is really no different for those with a nonreligious world view.”

Hemant Mehta said empathy drives him and readers of his blog, the Friendly Atheist, to raise funds for various causes. In the past, he’s helped raise $3,000 for a South Carolina church vandalized with atheist graffiti (donation refused) and a similar amount for an Ohio pastor badly beaten by a man identifying as a “militant atheist” (donation accepted).

Recently, he asked readers to donate money to a Morton Grove, Ill., park after an expected $2,600 donation from a local veterans group was withdrawn because a park board member declined to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Mehta, who lives in nearby Naperville, Ill., raised more than $3,000 and sent the city a check.

The park district returned the check with a message saying it did not want to appear “sympathetic to” any political or “religious group.”

Such rejections put Mehta in a bind, he said. He feels obligated to distribute the money in a way that will honor the spirit in which it was given — hard to do when the would-be beneficiary won’t cooperate or return his calls and emails.

Members of Upstate Atheists distribute goods to the needy of Spartanburg, S.C. after their offer to help at a local, Christian-run soup kitchen was rebuffed. Photo courtesy of Eve Brannon of Upstate Atheists

Members of Upstate Atheists distribute goods to the needy of Spartanburg, S.C., after their offer to help at a local, Christian-run soup kitchen was rebuffed. Photo courtesy of Eve Brannon of Upstate Atheists

In the case of the South Carolina money, he donated it to a women’s shelter in the same community. The park money has been sent to the Morton Grove Library to be used as the library sees fit. To date, the check — sent on Dec. 3 — has not been cashed, and Mehta was told Thursday (Dec. 19) that the check would be returned.

“It’s frustrating,” Mehta said. “As atheists, we don’t have a church we can donate to, so we do it on a case-by-case basis. But sometimes it is tough to help because they feel it is dirty money.”

But William Enright, director of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at Indiana University, noted that studies show many nonreligious people give to religious charities.

“If there are no adversarial strings attached to a good gift from an atheist how can one refuse the gift in the name of Jesus?” he asked. “What is the difference between the Christian who gives money to a nonreligious charity because of the good the charity does and the nonreligious person who gives to a religious charity because of the human need the charity addresses?”

Those questions confronted the Kansas City community in November when the local Rescue Mission, a Christian organization, turned away the Kansas City Atheist Coalition. The two groups worked successfully to distribute food to the needy in years past.

Lee Chiaramonte, founder of the Micah Ministry, which the Rescue Mission ultimately partnered with, said she was “scandalized” by the rejection of the atheist group. She said her ministry does not ask those who seek its help about their religion or philosophy and it doesn’t ask that of its volunteers, either.

“My gosh, they were they wonderful to work with,” she said of the atheist volunteers. “They were enthusiastic and hard-working and they’ll be back to work with us for Christmas and we are delighted.”


About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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  • The refusal could also be because their are atheist groups that wish to prohibit Christians from doing many things. You hear all time of those who wish the term Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas or when their is prayers in school or Bible verses on banners at High school Football games etc… So why do you think these donations are refused? Now I for one respect the beliefs of anyone. It is your belief after all. It just starts to bother me when one group decides to ruin things for another group.

  • I’ve given money to many Christian charities when they are working towards a good cause — and I’ve never given it a seconds thought. As an atheist, I’ve just never consider religious differences should be an impediment to working together for a good cause. I truly hope the vast majority of Christian-run charities aren’t so narrow minded as those mentioned in this story.

  • The American Cancer Society did not deny the Stiefel Freethought Foundation donation because of the nature of the organization. Stiefel made an offer of a matching gift through a program just as ACS dismantled that particular program in a simple re-organization effort. They kept in touch on friendly terms but Stiefel did not follow up with another matching gift offer or donation. I used to work at ACS and still have acquaintances there.

  • I really hope this trend doesn’t continue. When doing charity work we need to keep in mind that we’re doing it to provide help for those in need. Refusing helping hands and good money for petty reasons just deprives the less fortunate of that much more help. This is just sad.

  • Respectfully, I think you are misinformed. Some people say Happy holidays. Some say merry Christmas. I don’t think many, if any, atheists care if you say “merry Christmas.” Sme choose to say “happy Holidays” instead, because they realiize not everyone is Christian but everyone enjoys holidays. This seems to bother some Christians. But they are not prevented from expressing their views.

    As to the banners, cheerleaders have a right to believe anything they like, and they can tell their friends at school about their beliefs. But public schools belong to everyone and cannot endorse a particular religion, so the cheerleaders must wait until they are not representing the school to do so. It’s what good neighbors do, knowing we don’t all worship the same way.

    We don’t want to prevent Christians from doing anything at home, at church, or in gatherings of like-minded friends. But we do want to make sure our children are not made to feel unwelcome in their (our) public school. And it isn’t just atheists who feel this way. This is a country that welcomes everyone to believe what they choose. We have to recognize that our neighbors don’t agree with us about everything, and keeping religion out of public schools benefits everyone.

  • Garrett, do you mean one group (i.e., Christians) who decide to ruin things for another group (i.e., non-Christians)? Are you talking about how people with non-Christian beliefs are forced to acknowledge Christianity all day every day, or by being expected to say Merry Christmas even though they don’t celebrate it? Or having to see Christian banners or prayer in their schools (that they pay taxes for) even though that is a violation of church/state? You must mean those nasty people who consider themselves equal under the law and the constitution and expect equal treatment – not better, not worse, but EQUAL treatment in their daily lives? You obviously don’t respect the beliefs of anyone else if you think you should be entitled to cram your beliefs down other people’s throats against their will. Hypocrite.

    Personally, I think the Atheist groups should take their money elsewhere. There are many other charities that need help and are not so heartless and ignorant that they would put their own bigotry over the needs of the poor, sick, and helpless. Talk about ruining things for another group. Why don’t these xians ask the recipients of the donations how they feel about it? Bet they’d appreciate anybody’s help and not let prejudice get in the way. These Christian groups are selfish, ignorant, uncaring, and childish. They don’t want to help people, they just want to get out of paying taxes. I will not contribute one penny to any group that excludes people who want to help other people. I vote that all Atheist donations go to animal charities, and atheist camps for kids. Reward compassion and education, not ignorance and bigotry.

  • Certain Christians seem to think anyone who challenges their right to proselytize through the government (such as in public schools) is proselytizing for atheism/satanism/evil/etc. asking that our public schools avoid telling our children their beliefs are wrong is not asking your children to believe what you believe. Asking the schools to pro one your religion is asking our children to believe they have been taught the wrong religion. Whose first amendment rights are being violated here?

    Ask yourself this: if your child’s public schoolteacher started teaching that Methodists know the only true path to god, would you tell the baptists they should be okay with that because the teacher was expressing her first amendment rights? No, these cases always involve some vague form of Christianity that never can be pinned down to a particular faith. Well, Christians, here is you wake-up call. You need to accept that “Muslim” or “Hindu” or “atheist” is just as valid a viewpoint in the public sphere as baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian. Keep it where it belongs.

  • I love how the second non-believers start to fight back and say ‘hey we have a right to our non-belief too’ everyone wants to say ‘oh, they’re forcing their views down our throat’. Really? I find Christian beliefs forced down my throat every time I hand a bill with ‘In God we trust’ on it over to a cashier. I don’t believe in god, therefore I don’t trust in him, and I’m being forced to carry around money that I made with hard work that laughs in the face of my beliefs. I don’t really care that it’s on the bill, but you get the point, right?

  • I’m confused re: turning down help / charity from atheists. For many years I volunteered for fundraising events for the American Cancer society. I simply signed-up and went at scheduled times. Not once was I asked what my beliefs were, in regards to religion.

    I have also worked at soup kitchens, help raise funds to pass out turkeys for Thanksgiving and every year I sign up with a local organization where I donate Christmas (food, gifts, etc. based upon what the family has requested). Never once have I been asked of my religious affiliation or lack there of. So my question is, how do they know these are atheist people and/or organizations?

  • In the cases of atheist groups being rebuffed by Christian groups, why did the atheist groups want to join up with anyone? Why not do your own soup kitchen for example? I’m not being glib, I just think doing service projects on their own could have kept things simple.

  • In cases of atheists being rebuffed by Christians, why didn’t the atheists just avoid joining forces and do the service project on their own? I’m not being glib, I just think it would have been simpler. I almost get the impression the atheists are saying “if Christians won’t let us help in their soup kitchen, our hands are tied,” but they can still feed the hungry on their own. I don’t get why the atheists wanted to work with any other group, whoever they may be.

  • MDevlin

    >> ” I don’t get why the atheists wanted to work with any other group, whoever they may be.”

    Because we are capable of putting our diferences aside in the name of common cause.

  • Because they wanted to help NOW and not have to duplicate efforts and waste funds by doing so. Funny how the Christians-uber-alles damn atheists for not making a show of being seen doing good works, but when the atheists try to help the whiney christuans, they are rebuffed.

  • “christiansR[expletive deleted]”? really? is that what this is coming down to? did you even read the entire article where at the end one christian group was scandalized by the fact that the christian soup kitchen rejected the atheists?
    maybe i should hashtag my comment by saying “atheists are rude jerks” oh wait, I won’t because I realize atheists aren’t all jerks, it’s just you.

    well i got that off my chest. i could erase it but i’ll just leave it so you can understand how i felt when i read your words. i pray you be enlightened with the truth. i’m guessing you must have had some bad experiences with christians and i am sorry for that. i don’t care what you believe in or don’t believe in but you should know that christianity is about love not about being an “[expletive deleted]”. peace.

  • Telling an atheist that you are going to pray for them is exactly like saying ‘[expletive deleted] you i’ll still shove my religion down your throat but seem compassionate at the same time.’

  • I have donated to the Salvation Army and that and I am a 2nd generation atheist. But my biggest issue is that with being an Atheist it is hard to find help during the holiday season… I personally do not have a job at this time, I am a single mother, I own my home (so I have a house payment to make), I am a full time college student that just received straight A’s (for the first time ever) and my daughter receives social security death benefits of $621 because of that amount I do not qualify for TANF (welfare check) and as far as Christmas goes they only place I can go to for assistance is the Salvation Army and they are so rude to work with. My daughter has noticed that if you are a member of a church you can received more Christmas assistance for being poor. But she and I feel that is a stupid reason to join a church when we both do not believe. I guess what I am saying is that I wish there was a atheist group that could help.

  • Seems to me if the want and desire to give, to help those less fortunate was the real aim then you could do so without mentioning you are Atheist at all. This only becomes an issue because like those who have faith some who have Atheist viewpoints place their own belief (or lack of) above the considerations of others.
    I am an Atheist but i do not give to charity as an Atheist i do so as a human being because i know some may take offence at my lack of faith. To me its not an issue the giving is the issue not my personal religious viewpoint thats not important to any but me helping others is important to us all.

  • My answer was to join the Unitarian Universalists who welcome everyone including atheists like myself. You’re not required to believe anything other than to have faith in people and what they can do to improve everyone’s lot. I really love this congregation. The emphasis of the UU ministries are empathy, compassion and acceptance of everyone, in essence we live by the golden rule, an ideal held by cultures around the world.
    It’s a shame the atheist organizations had their charity dollars thrown back at them or refused but this is the nature of more than few faith minded individuals. Of late I’m also noticing the actions of those few but disturbing militant atheists. It may be rare but it’s a social pariah. If someone wants to be a jerk they don’t have to espouse a small, strong, but otherwise peaceful philosophy. Whenever the faithful or the non-believer uses their philosophy to denigrate or physically threaten those who don’t share in it they show their personal weakness not strength and not anything worth encouraging.

  • ^^ Just posting so more people see the above comment. There may very well be a rational reason for rejecting a donation. The worst thing we can do is dehumanize people without first having all the facts.

  • Unfortunately Harry, not all Christians are of the same mind as you, and many of them are quite [expletive deleted]-ish. I know many that aren’t, but the ones that I know that are, far out weigh the aren’ts.

  • I think things have to be taken on a case-by-case basis.

    Atheists may want to insist on automatic and instant acceptance of their donations, especially with their new mantra (or PR campaign) of “putting aside our differences in the name of the common good”, but any time that money-changing-hands is involved, it’s best to simply think things over first. Don’t let anybody rush you into it.

    In some cases, one may decide that it is ultimately best to graciously decline the atheist offer, albeit with sincere thanks for the offer. If the atheists are serious (and free of ulterior motives) about donating to a religion-based charity, they’ll simply locate an alternative and accepting religious charity and donate the money to them. There are plenty to choose from and they are all struggling for funds.

    But if the atheists have to dial up the local newspapers or TV stations first as a result of your gracious declining of their offer, then, that’s a pretty good sign that the Christian organization really didn’t need that particular atheist donation anyway.

  • Yes that is clearly one of the reasons religiosity is higher in the US than other developed countries. Without a decent secular social security network people must cling to churches for help. In countries where that is not necessary people can afford to decide for themselves whether or not church involvement fits with their beliefs and conscience.

  • It seems obvious in the article that Christians think that accepting these donations from atheists are either tainted or compromise of their beliefs in some fashion. The groups represented here did not seem to attached any strings, seemed to show some level of respect for religious organizations, and they were not being hostile, rude or looking for anything in return. As a pastor of a church involved in community issues, I would have accepted the money and used it for its intended purpose. There has to be a way for us not to draw such a hard line in the sand when it is does not compromise our beliefs, our work or our message. People helping other people should be a hallmark of a community and the church should be very present in this endeavor. They may be times of justified disagreement and distance in the future, but this does not seem to be one of them.

  • Because making a second is a waste of resources. This is CHARITY, where they don’t have infinite resources. Why would they want to waste money on a second location, second set of everything, just because a few religious people are childish? That money could be food going into someone’s mouth.

  • Nonsence. If a Christian says they are going to pray for me I just say “I appreciate the sentiment”. Its not going to make one bit of difference if they do or don’t and its not harming anyone. If it makes them feel better , great. You will never change anyone’
    s mind about belief or lack there of by arguing or debating. And being militant about it is just going to make them dig their heals in.

  • No one is seeking to prevent any christian child from praying in school. Your child may pray whenever s/he wishes.S/he may not pray aloud, as it is disruptive to the class, and neither s/he nor the teacher may lead the whole class in prayer. There is no reason your religion should receive special treatment and I’m sure you don’t want the school forcing your child to stand quietly while the teacher leads the class in a Baha’i prayer, right? Why should your religion get preferential treatment? And who is “prohibiting” or trying to prohibit you from saying “Merry Christmas?” Do you mean pointing out that yours isn’t the only celebration this time of year and it might be more polite to say “Happy Holidays” unless you know for certain a person celebrates christmas? Would you advocate that instead everyone say “Happy Hanukkah?” Again, why should your religion get special treatment? Do you also think Quran verses should be allowed on cheerleaders banners? Again, why should christians get special treatment? If there is any group, in this country trying to “ruin things for everyone” it would be christians, who seem to think everyone should have to be subjected to their beliefs.

    How DARE you imply that expecting you to respect the fact that not everyone shares your beliefs “ruins” anything for anyone? And you really do believe you’re respecting the beliefs of others, don’t you? You have no concept of respect. If you want to see a religion that actually is about respect, read about Jainism.

  • You are actually misrepresenting what happened. And as a cancer patient I can say few cancer organizations do less for actual cancer patients than American Cancer Society. There are better cancer charities to donate to anyway.

  • go they can continue to call it “christian charity” but atheists are selfish to mention they are atheists.

    With friends like you who needs enemies?

  • I don’t doubt the ability to set aside differences. I just think it would be faster and easier for an organized group of atheists to go straight to a service project without taking detours to work with anyone.

  • Why should they HAVE to keep it simple by doing their own thing? Isn’t charity about community and coming together to help others. Or are you saying it’s okay as long as you don’t do it with us or want to associate with us? As for the donation to the American Cancer Society…obviously the donation would have been in the form of a check from the organization and THAT alone would have stated who they were.

  • I can’t believe the ignorance of the comments in here about athiests. About how they should only associate with themselves. What about the Jews? What about the LGBT community? What about the Muslims? Oh, that’s right they should all go about their own thing too because they don’t belong. Get over yourselves Christians…you’re not the only people in the world and NOT even the biggest.

  • REALLY? >> If the atheists are serious (and free of ulterior motives) about donating to a religion-based charity, they’ll simply locate an alternative and accepting religious charity and donate the money to them. << So…if one is not an atheist, one has ulterior motives? Is that your message? No, we're not serious about helping other people regardless of their beliefs. (sarcasm) Unbelievable comments. And Christians are the first ones to jump on the bandwagon about publicity. Come on. Do you really not get it? REALLY? The reason they make an example is trying to get people to understand that it doesn't matter the beliefs. It is sad to see how this is being looked at by people like yourself who obviously doesn't understand what atheism even is? We do have beliefs, they just aren't yours. That is the difference, we don't judge and please don't take the moral high ground and say you don't, because your comments alone say do.

  • They call it a christian charity because it is just that, a group of christians who started a charity. As others have mentioned in earlier posts, come up with your own groups, or charities. But when it becomes a group of atheists wanting to help a christian effort, you have to ask yourself why do you have to be identified as atheists if you want to help?

  • You do judge when you generalize christians, and it is ignorant to generalize and say that “we do not judge”, do you know every atheist in the world? I have met some pretty judgmental individuals who consider themself atheists.

  • No links to any of these alleged incidents? We’ll just take your word for it? atheists fail at skepticism
    :-A group of Kansas City, Mo., nonbelievers was told their help was not needed .”.
    “A $3,000 donation to a Morton Grove, Ill., park, collected by a local atheist group, was returned.” Not a religious organization. If fact they decline donations from religious and political organizations.
    “A group of Spartanburg, S.C., atheists was denied the opportunity to help at a Christian-run soup kitchen.” sounds like they were threatening to disrupt the place. I bet they’d turn down the Klan, too.

    Your hatred is on full display in these comments with post after post of raging vitriol. We have real people who take offense if you wish them a Merry Christmas because despite being a national holiday, he perceives it as an act of Christian oppression. Yes you’re the kind of person I want to volunteer to be around. I’m sure your warmth and spirit of generosity is just what the down-trodden need to brighten their day!

  • My church runs a community food pantry in Napa, CA. No strings attached. We would gladly accept financial gifts from atheist groups or anyone else and give credit to the contributor if they would like to be recognized. Feeding hungry families trumps religious distinctions:

  • The hypocrisy is strong in this one. “No, you can’t play cuz … cuz … umm, cuz you SMELL, mister atheist pants! So there!” [sticks tongue out]

  • The “I’ll pray for you” is usually the passive-aggressive Christian closing remark when they want to fling an insult at others with a smile on their face.

  • A true helping hand and the hand it helps should not know of color, opinion, belief, or expectation. These are my words alone and not funded by the beliefs of any religion.

  • Harry, I didn’t read sovereignJohn’s comment to mean all Christians, perhaps just “those “christiansR[expletive deleted] who refused help on their (the needy’s) behalf”. I think we should agree THOSE christians are wrong, as THOSE atheists (and christians?) who generalize are wrong.

    and just so you can understand how i felt when i read your words, telling an atheist “i pray you be enlightened with the truth” is like me telling you to “grow up and stop believing in an imaginary friend”; it’s just rude and we should not speak to each other that way if we ever want to have… peace.

    by the way, why the heck is my browser keeps trying to capitalize Christian but not atheist? hmmmm.

  • It doesn’t capitalise ‘atheist’ for the same reason it doesn’t capitalise ‘theist’, while it capitalises ‘Christian’ for the same reason it capitalises ‘Muslim’; atheism isn’t a religion.

  • This is kind of tucked in the middle of the article but there ARE some strings attached and Christians do believe in spreading their faith.

    “Dale McGowan, executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief, a humanist nonprofit, said his group’s grants have been rejected at least eight times. The foundation, which has given away $1.4 million, does not proselytize for nonbelief and requires that its beneficiaries — some with religious roots — do the same.”

  • There was an enormous fuss made about Mother Teresa when she accepted money from places without caring who it came from. Now the reverse has happened. There are plenty of fine places to give one’s money to without reference to beliefs, it seems narrow minded to whine about the unfortunate cases when, including with some speculation, being an atheist makes a difference. Specially sad when these are secular organizations denying the funds, but still, plenty of places to give.

  • There was one place that cited that as the reason, I think Hemant Mehta (or at least someone on the Patheos Atheist channel) commented on. Which seems to make perfect sense: if one wants to advocate for one’s creed, one can hardly accept money that demands otherwise, or accept volunteers who will do otherwise.

  • I am a Christian, and I don’t agree with turning away atheist volunteer labor or atheist money because every man and woman needs to be able to participate in the act of giving. Giving is the most supreme act of the human being, the one act in which someone might discover they are indeed made in the Image and Likeness of God, who is total Love and Self Giving. These atheists do not know God, but in their love and generosity they are able to reveal His Face to the world and intimately share in His work. So the act of giving can actually be a conduit to a change of heart. I recently fell into a nest of atheists on Twitter. And it was like stepping into a hornet’s nest. These were the most idle and sensitive people I have ever met. They needed to volunteer in a soup kitchen! Instead, they spent their time showing me pictures of dying babies with a vulture nearby to prove God doesn’t exist. Maybe he doesn’t. But the cameraman who took the pictures does exist, and what kind of human being would take a picture of dying babies in Africa and not do something about it? Let the atheist work side by side with the Christian. This is the best thing for their happiness. And in reflecting on this anguish they experience and how it could be resolved, I wrote the following post called “Lament of the Atheist: Standing Idle in the Marketplace.”

  • Aside from the vulgar hash tag, which I believe is what really triggered your ire, the comment is valid but let’s make it a question rather than a statement to see why. Would those the christian groups were helping be grateful to the christian groups that the atheist donations were turned down?

    Note neither statement nor question implicitly includes all christian groups, it explicitly narrows itself to only those who turned down the donations; a christian group cannot be the subject of the statement nor question if the group accepted atheist donations or had no donations to accept or refuse. This invalidates your counter that the statement does not take in to account the christian group leader who was scandalized by other group turning down the help.

    Christian groups and other groups who turn down donations because they come from atheist groups are being bigoted and those involved in the decision making should be ashamed of themselves for being such narrow minded, self righteous, bigots.

  • We don’t. Many of us choose not to identify. I’m recalling one example of a soup kitchen where the atheists had been volunteering for years without being open about their non-belief, and were only thrown out after the larger organization’s leaders learned through other means that they were atheists. If memory serves, the kitchen organizers defended the move by saying that they knew what atheists were and they were under no obligation to invite Satan into the house of God, or something like that.

    With supposedly non-religious organizations like the American Cancer Society, it’s especially alarming. I wonder, how likely are they to discriminate against atheist patients when they distribute their raised funds? If “some of this money came from atheists” is so controversial, how much more so would be “some of this money went to help atheists”? Neither should be a problem, yet if one was seen as threatening their image and their revenue stream, why not the other? I don’t actually think they’re discriminating like this, but ever since they turned down funds because the money came from atheists, that doubt has been working away at me.

    Also, there is a very good reason to be out as atheists when doing charity, and that’s the lies of Christians. Not all Christians, but certain Christians (especially on the right) with more visibility than truthfulness. Over the years they’ve presented a false witness of atheists as self-centered curmudgeons absent of any morality and capable only of evil. Poll numbers about public attitude towards atheists show that this false witness is working depressingly well. One of the ways we are combating these lies is to be more open in our atheism as we pursue our existing charitable works. Being out as visible examples showing how these Christians have lied about us is becoming less and less a matter of preference and more and more a matter of self-defense.

    Finally, why shouldn’t we be out about who we are? Should we be obligated to wear masks when we give charity? To refrain from wearing an FSM necklace, even as Christians happily don their crucifix necklace and think nothing of it? Why should even the knowledge that someone doing charitable works just happens to be an atheist be so poisonous to some Christians? Why should going back into the closet be a prerequisite for helping the needy?

  • I have lived in hale michigan for four yrs.I wanted to help out in the community.I’m not a christian ,but I decided to vol at the Fish food bank.I thought it would be rewarding.this was last christmas.I worked 8hrs for 2 days.on the second day to my surprise I was accused of smokingg pot on the premises.I am an outspoken supporter of legalization and I have a medial card but I had not smoked was made up gossip.this year i didn’t vol but it was said that I stole a whole truck of makes no sense that Im the brunt of lies when my only crime was trying to help out my community.i wondered how these women could spread these could they repeat things they dont know is true.this is how religion starts.I am greatful to these gossipping christians for openning my eyes.I now understand religion.i have a medical pot permit and dont belive in god so i must have gotten stoned and got the munchies so I drove off with a truck of turkeys.I just don’t remember

  • I will never vol again.I have no doudt that religion is a lie after my experience volunteering at fish.also some of the women talked bad about the needy people cominng through the line.the two women in charge.nancy annd shirly were the worst.the shirly lady was pure evil.I never knew volenteering to feed tje hungry could be so unrewarding.if I had never done it I wouldnt even know these hypacrits

  • I was trying to find my connection to god when I vollenterred at Fish in haale michigan at the food drive.I was so mistreated when they realized I was on medical pot.alll these old ladies with bottles full of scripts started spreading lies about me because I am a pot smoking athiest.truth being I was questioning if maybe I did took the good christian women of Fish to convince me that christianity is a lie

  • Nobody seen me smoke pot or run off with a truck full of turkeys.both of these things are improbable even.yet they were being spread as truth based on the fact that i have a pit permit and I am not a i must be a drug addict turkey thief.if they can believe in somthing they dont know is real then religion might be a lie too

  • “Forcing down one’s throat” is such an overused term by fundamentalists that it makes one assume they have some kind of oral fixation.

  • Christians are the only ones who are rejecting charity as a group and using their religion as justification for such infantile actions. So it is fair to use the term when describing the people involved.

    Many Christians always feel the need to be judgmental but seldom have thick enough skin to deal with the judgment of others.

  • Because you think Atheists are all baby-eating liars? Nice.

    The Morton Grove Library’s donation was rejected because of a Bible Thumping members of the board of trustees thought it was evil to take the money. He was filled with as much “Christian charity” as yourself. Sectarian bigots with a bit of authority

    With Spartansburg SC is just you making up crap and speculating. Bearing false witness for the Lord.

    Here are some links for you

    The only hatred on display is the one which thinks charitable donations to the needy comes secondary to prosletyzing and upholding religious dogma. Yours.

  • Hypochristians whine about “atheist propaganda” when FBB and others give and put their name on it, but then put their own religion’s name on it and demand participation. “No religion = no food.” At least atheist groups aren’t demanding recipients give up religion, only that they be poor.

    The issue isn’t “dirty atheist money”. The issue is religions pretending to care and using charity as a false front for religious perversion.

  • Perhaps the Atheist groups didn’t have the resources themselves to run a soup kitchen, etc. Why does it matter? Your question would seem to prove you are part of the problem, not the solution.

  • I am a UU myself (3 years) and wish I had found them years ago. It is wonderful to be in a group that accepts everyone for who they are and promotes respect instead of condemnation.

  • I doubt the people served by the charities cared what religious persuasion those helping them were. Turning down help for something petty as a different belief system is simple ignorance

  • why would a atheist want to be affiliated with a religious group

    there fundamental belief that religion is damaging

    I think religious organizations have every right to distance themselves from the movement of atheism, which is solely opposition to religious beliefs

    the charity being done is an expression of those religious beliefs, there is simply no place for those that disrespect that

    Atheists can go start there own charities, etc, they wont get much done in my opinion, any person whose life model resulting in disrespecting others doesn’t deserve recognition from other established groups