As you might have noticed (or not as the case may be), I call myself a “Righteous Atheist,” and this is the first of many articles explaining why this is an appropriate moniker. Although I will not be blowing my own trumpet, so to speak, there are many atheists who either give money or do charity work, and – to many religious believers – this is shocking or – too hard to believe (sic). Without the stick and carrot of religion, donating time and money to a charitable cause makes no sense to them, and some even go as far as to deny that it happens.
I will be mentioning some prominent atheist givers and organizations here, with the hope of educating our religious cousins – after all – they have asked us to do so time and time again….
Lets start with a few famous atheist philanthropists before going onto the atheist or humanist charitable organizations.
Bill Gates is a good one to start with as almost everyone knows him and he now devotes all his working time to the charitable trust he set up, called “the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”
He is openly derogatory about the church, although he tends to dodge the question as to whether or not he believes in a god by simply saying there is no evidence of such a thing. Which is true of course……
Gates has so far donated around $38 billion to charity, and was “Time person of the year,” in 2005. Don’t get me started on the 2013 choice for that award.
Yes, you heard correctly: two of the wealthiest men in America and neither of them believe in Invisible Super Beings – how about that? Considering the fact that Christianity is almost (sic) tailor made for the wealthy to continue oppressing the poor, you would have thought both of these would be on board, but – not so. Makes you wonder…..
Regardless, Warren Buffet is almost as well-known as Gates, almost as wealthy and also donates a substantial amount to charity – a tad more than the 2013 Time person of the year, who is big on damage control, tight on purse strings…..
Buffet donated (with strings) $3.5 billion to the Gates foundation and millions in other philanthropic ventures. Despite his vast wealth, he continues to take an interest in humankind.
Often referred to by religionists as a “rabid atheist,” or “militant atheist,” Dawkins is nonetheless active in giving to charity and has created theRichard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, which is aimed at promoting critical thinking over religious fundamentalism.
The foundation is also active in raising money for recent natural disasters including the recent typhoons in the Philippines, through Non-Believers Giving Aid – the money is then passed on to Doctors without borders.
So, despite being aggressively anti-religious, Dawkins also manages to do some good, and earns the title “Righteous Atheist,” as far as I am concerned. He is also available for giving speeches so I understand……
Some more famous Atheists, some of whom do charity work
Atheist or Humanist Charities in the News
Last year, KIVA announced that the largest amount raised was by an atheist group, with KIVA Christians running a distant third, which rather displaces the notion that believers are more “righteous,” in their giving than non-believers. I suppose one could argue that believers are less computer literate than non believers, but I find that hard to swallow. Either way – religious giving tends to come with strings attached and there have been a number of instance recently where religious organizations have actually turned away money or help because it was offered by non-believers. This is another example.
Makes you wonder why this sort of thing happens, but just goes to show the divisive nature of religion. Spreading the Gospel is more important than building a community apparently. Anyway – enough negativity and at last – people are sitting up and taking notice that atheists are as generous as anyone when it comes to charitable giving. Here are some positive references in the news:
- Thanks to humanity! – Guest Voices – The Washington Post
Humanists are thankful for thinkers and activists who risked their lives to bring us freedoms, says an American Humanist Association leader.
- Atheists give even when rejected
Some Atheist Charities
Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) works in nearly 70 countries providing medical aid to those most in need regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation. Probably one of the most well known atheist or secular charities, they are always quicker to react than some of the larger organizations and well respected for offering quality medical aid.
The Red Cross is a well known charity with no religious affiliation. The International Red Cross, despite using a cross as its symbol is clearly a humanitarian institution. There are now more than 180 National Societies forming a Federation. Part of their raison d’etre is to provide relief for the wounded of war and they are non-partisan in providing that relief.
American Civil Liberties Union
The ACLU are often at the forefront of the fight against religious fundamentalism in the United States, fighting to retain the separation of Church and State, as well as protecting the Fist amendment rights of US citizens. Not a popular organization with the right wing conservative Christians I’m afraid. WHich is why I love them. 😀
The Foundation Beyond Belief
The foundation beyond belief is an openly Humanist organization, and as you may have gathered from their name, is anti-religious also. It is a little different in that they ask members to commit to a monthly automatic donation, called tithes. Just kidding! 😀
Dale McGowan explains about the Foundation Beyond Belief
Kiva is interesting because they offer micro loans to struggling entrepreneurs in developing countries. Foundation beyond belief actually has a Kiva “team,” set up that you can join and give money to.
As far as I can tell, there is no appreciable difference between the amount of charity given by believers or non believers, but – this is my thinking:
Believers tend to give to organizations that have an ulterior motive. i.e spreading their irrational message of fear and hatred. They are also promised a reward in heaven for spreading this fear and hatred, whereas atheists do not have any ulterior motives and do not expect any sort of reward for doing good.
I put it to you that the atheist is more righteous than the believer, and I am using the word “righteous,” deliberately. I know who I would trust more: the atheist doing good because they think it is the right thing to do rather than the believer because they have been instructed to do good or get punished by the Invisible Super Being. How about you?