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Atheist Community of Austin
Charity and Atheism

Does anyone in the ACA volunteer with a faith-based, or other religiously related charities? I do not want to promote faith at all, beyond having faith in your fellow homo sapiens to help one another. I am considering spending time doing Habitat for Humanity after participating in one of their builds. I don't think that this charity is like others that will feed the poor, but only if they will open themselves up to Jesus. Of course, I don't see the whole operation, so I can't really be sure. I have only a hunch and some anonomous internet users that the recipients are selected through church connections. Does anyone know of a resource that would tell you about if a charity's efforts are being directed toward prostelytizing?

It's a tough line, because I genuinely want to help people, but I don't want my efforts to be used to support something I consider to be immoral. It seems petty though to not help others because then faith based organizations may receive credit or try to use it as a tool for recruitment. Habitat seemed pretty secular, besides the moment of silence before the day's work. It's a chance to provide low-income housing for others, and I get to improve my handyman skills. It's a win-win for me, which is why I am working with them, but I can't help but think that by helping them, I am adding to the argument made by the faithful that faith is needed to do good deeds, and I will second-handedly contribute to prostelyzation. I am going to help with the organization either way, but does anyone else experience conflict when it comes to charitable organizations?

By the way, I don't see a blood drive on the calendar. Will the ACA be continuing to do blood drives? I'm due for a blood letting.

It seems petty to discriminate against faith-based charities if those charities are doing more good than harm. A classic example is the Salvation Army. I know several people who went from being addicts living on the streets to being happy, functioning participants in life as a result of going through their 6-month rehab program. Countless others are afforded meals and shelter during times of desperation, and even though they are exposed to a heavy dose of Christianity there is no condition placed upon the recipient of the charity that they must become Christians in order to receive basic sustenance.

To me, the highest objective of charity is to alleviate suffering and the causes of suffering. Asserting that one's point of view is "correct" does not help anything other than the ego of the individual making the assertion. Philosophical debate is entertainment. It doesn't put food in hungry bellies or build houses for the poor.

Petty Atheists discriminating against faith-based charities! So, atheists don't think the government should give faith-based charities more money? Don't atheists think that people who are tired, filthy and hungry first want to hear some preach'n before dinner.

I don't see why atheists have a problem with drug addicts becoming fanatics, a mutual admiration society, since, there is really nothing like turning kaleidoscopic giggles into a spiritual experience, painful yes, but a psychotherapeutic journey mixed with religion can be transforming. No! I'm sure that shaking those tambourines and praying leaves those addicts feeling so weird that they freak out cold sober. I'm sure the addicts puked out enough drugs to fill several puke buckets.

I'm so happy to hear that these people who are desperate are afforded meals and shelter while being exposed to heavy doses of Christianity I'm sure that is about all it would take to drive them officially bat shit insane.

Well, that's all from me --

Tongpa-nyi,

You make a great point that the objective of a charity is to alleviate suffering. I personally don't have a big problem with contributing to an organization that uses religion as a base for their values, but I can see why or how others that are non-believers or believers of another faith can have a dilemma. I find it more difficult when you want to contribute to something that is local. Apparently Christianity has covered the market in charitable works, especially in the US. This is mostly due to the communal affects of churches in every corner and dominance in its political influence. Charity shouldn't be a competition, but this is how Christianity has operated since its conception. I believe this is also why there are not as much secular charities compared to the religious based charities. And if a charity, let's say one that is founded by an atheist organization, is setup to help the community, don't be surprised that Christians will not support it or actively try to shut it down.

To Brian C,

Even so, there are many organizations that do charitable works that are secular like the ACLU, Amnesty International, and Doctors with out Borders plus many more. You can easily look them up on-line.

I presently contribute to Kiva.org where you can help people take out micro loans. You just donate as little as 10 dollars into a pool, however much the recipient of that loan is asking. The loan usually goes to start or upgrade a small business or can simply go towards buying someone a bed. You look through a list of people and if you like what they want to do with the loan you can contribute and follow their progress. In the terms of the loan, it has to be paid back at a given amount of time and when the loan has been paid in full, the contribution can be passed on to another person asking for help. This allows a small contribution the potential to keep working over and over as long as you want. Sometimes the borrower is not able to payback the loan which is unfortunate, but I think of the contributions that I put in as a gift and if a borrower is able to pay the loan back that is a sign that they are doing good. For me this program not only gives people assistance, but also provides people with pride when they are able to give back to the system. Can't say it's a perfect system, but I think it's better than just donating to an organization and hoping that your donation is actually going toward its intended purpose.

Sammy: "...this is also why there are not as much secular charities compared to the religious based charities."

My guess is that religious charities outnumber secular because most people are religious, or at least they associate charity with religion.

On the other hand, secular-based volunteer opportunities are plentiful and seem to outnumber religious opportunities. I've enjoyed helping out with Austin Parks, SXSW, community gardens and public schools.

I'll add one more secular charity to your list: Safe Place (safeplace.org) --- they're my favorite local charity.

Brian C. > It seems petty though to not help others because then faith based organizations may receive credit or try to use it as a tool for recruitment.

If it seems PETTY then what's his problem? I don't see much point to the original post; he doesn't want to work for faith-based charities that might be proselytizing because he doesn't want to help people proselytize. On the other hand they are doing so much good, and then he doesn't care one way or the other. He goes back and forth like a cuckoo clock. Most self-ruling types don't need to know what other people think if it is something that they want to do; they rely own their own judgement.

There are MORE secular charities than religious charities. SHEESH - I'll close my eyes and count to ten! Secular means non-religious and that means anyone religious or non-religious can participate. Persons can still maintain their dignity and receive help from a secular charity because they will not be subjected to any kind of religious pressure to accept religious material (booklets) or to listen to sermons. Secular charities do not hold a religious bias when hiring employees.

Churches are funded by public donations (they have no other means of support) but where does the money go? It goes into their rituals, their wages, their legal battles (to break down the separation of church and state) and their running costs and finally some of it goes to the needy. Secular charities don't need to fill up churches. Their labor and money goes into helping people that need help period. It should bother anyone who supports these outdated ideologies while half the world goes hungry, and has primitive facilities and little medical assistance. When you fund church you are funding ignorance and inefficiency.

Faith-based initiative is unconstitutional. It is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. I personally do not want to support church no matter what the excuse, but under our Constitution Americans can not be forced to support a religion. Many theist and atheist are concerned about the unconstitutional faith-based executive orders. It appears some people can't distinguish the difference in an unconstitutional faith-based initiative and charity. The discussions on this forum have been about the unconstitutionality of faith-based initiative. That has nothing to do with what anyone does with a charity.

Religious organizations were already receiving government funding for charitable work, but they could not use those funds for religious brainwashing. There had been no discrimination against religious charities they were just regulated so that charities could not use public funds for religious discrimination. While they were dismantling welfare programs that were government-funded for the needy they were creating a federal government office that would support religious charities with government funds. The difference is that churches instead of a governmental agency would be in charge of the welfare money. The faith-based initiative replaced the public social services that were created in the Depression era. The official federal office of faith-based action and the faith-based programs donate public money to private religious organizations.

The "faith-based agenda" is a violation of the Constitution that our freedom is founded on, not god or the bible, and the President swears to defend the Constitution, and government-funded coercion of the poor into religion is a violation of their civil rights.

Secular charities are not called "atheist charities" since anyone religious or non-religious can be involved. If the atheists wanted to create an "atheist charity" so that atheists can discriminate against Christians that would be fine with me since Christians discriminate against atheist every possible way they can.

I'm working to keep the Christian grindcore out of the music venue at SXSW.

My humble opinion is that this American Capitalist society has deliberately designed "charity" to be faith-based. It's all part of the status-quo and keeping things the way they want them to stay. Church is a reinforcement of the values they want us to have. Take Donald Trump's stupid show "The Apprentice" as a great example. The sucky materialistic, competitive mentality about your job, followed by dolling out a few crumbs to "charity" and that makes it all o.k. Some of the things that right now are charities should be fundamental rights. Food, for instance. Who gave who the right to make food something that a working person in this country cannot afford? I think the family of anyone hard-working, whether they be a lawyer or a mechanic, has an equal right to eat. But American society has been conditioned to think this isn't true-that some people are entitled to more, and the "lowly" can beg for the crumbs from the charities. They want people to keep doing what they've been doing, instead of really changing things. I think there is a huge need for all human services to be secularized. We need to demand it from our government-why bother paying taxes and having a government at all if EVERYONE'S needs aren't met? We should definitely complain about the lack of secular services for people, and work on starting new ones.

The SECULAR Center is a charity/volunteer organization specifically for non-theists. Please check out our website at www.secularcenterusa.org, and let us know if you're interested in starting a branch in your area.

By the way, I recently spoke at ACA about the need to engage in different types of activism as non-theists and atheists. If you get a chance, please view it - there is a link on the ACA website and I'm pasting it here as well.

http://www.atheist-community.org/lectures/speakers.php?id=77

Thanks! Noelle George, President

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