Pharyngula

Godless charities

At one of my talks this weekend, I was asked if there was a list of secular charities somewhere…and alas, I didn’t have one off the top of my head. Now I have one: Techskeptic’s Data Daily: Atheist Charities. Give!

Comments

  1. #1 Kobra
    December 8, 2008

    Aha! Bookmarked for when I move from Mad Scientist in Training past Mad Scientist to Rich Mad Scientist. :D

  2. #2 Prof MTH
    December 8, 2008

    Theists attempt to own the “we are moral and atheists are not” argument. For example see this Catholic wackaloon.

    IMO we non-theists need to do a better job marketing examples of moral non-theists. Theists are always at the ready to provide examples of (suppossedly) theistic moral exemplars and simultaneously bring-up Pol Pot and Stalin to falsely criticize non-theists.

  3. #3 Cannabinaceae
    December 8, 2008

    ProfMTH: I agree that we charitable ungodded should more often take the high road as you suggest, vis-a-vis posturing about morality. Trading negative pseudo-examples back and forth is distasteful in the extreme. I wonder, though, whether an accurate numerical analysis would nevertheless make the ungodded, in the aggregate, less charitable or more charitable.

  4. #4 S.Scott
    December 8, 2008

    I’m glad to see Red Cross on the list. :-)

  5. #5 Chris Davis
    December 8, 2008

    Good to have a list like this, even though the idea that religion stands or falls by how nice and generous its adherents are is bollox.

    Nor is it true, on several grounds, the most telling being the data in this paper: http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

  6. #6 teacherninja
    December 8, 2008

    That’s a nice long list, but I’ve heard it’s better to narrow your giving to just one or two to have the most effect. How to pick?

  7. #7 Cannabinaceae
    December 8, 2008

    Shitfuckdamn! I mean “… appear less charitable or more charitable.”

  8. #8 clinteas
    December 8, 2008

    Cannabinaceae,
    love the nick !

    IMO we non-theists need to do a better job marketing examples of moral non-theists.

    I think that atheists have a marketing problem in general,but partly thats the fault of the media,because not only atheists,but any group of like-minded people these days gets portrayed in black and white and given a label.

    So weve gotten our branding as hateful,amoral and love-impaired over the years,and its hard to get the message across that this is utter rubbish.

  9. #9 Cannabinaceae
    December 8, 2008

    What I would like to know is: once you donate to a charity, how can you avoid the onslaught of carbon-burning mail that begins to arrive regularly asking for even more money, from not only the target charity but whoever else gains access to their mailing list?

    I’d like to see some website similar in nature to the “do-not-call” list thingies that you could sign up with that would convey: “don’t hit me up again unsolicited or I give next year’s hundred bucks to someone else.”

    I’m donating because I believe in the cause. I don’t want the newsletter, I don’t even really want email updates (as if I’d give them my email address anyway). All I really want to hear is from some independent charity-ranking organization with a good rep announcing that the charities I chose are particularly efficient at using donations to achieve their goals.

  10. #10 deep
    December 8, 2008

    Wow, this list blows mine out of the water. I’m glad someone was able to take that much time to benefit others. Also, become an organ donor. I can’t stress enough how much that could help other people…and all you have to do is DIE. Easy enough, huh?

  11. #11 MissPrism
    December 8, 2008

    Cannabinacae, IIRC, religious people give more to charity than the godless if you include contributions to their own churches, but not otherwise. So both can, and probably do, claim superiority.

    And I hear ya on the junk mail. Amnesty International’s was the worst as it was so upsetting – I love what they do, but I’m not giving them my address again.

  12. #12 Cannabinaceae
    December 8, 2008

    clinteas,

    I do like my hops (Humulus lupulus) -n-stuff. I thought about using “Hophead” as a ‘nym but felt it was too, er, specific.

    Hey, I forgot to check the list (and now I’ve really got to start appearing to work so I’m not going to go back and look!), but was NORML on there?

  13. #13 pixelsnake
    December 8, 2008

    Hi there,
    Been lurking on your blog for a while now (*cheers* great stuff) but this is my first post.
    I was just wondering if anyone knows of any non-religious organizations that have child sponsor type programs? Or are those entirely monopolized by christians? I didn’t see any on the list, but I’m hoping they do exist somewhere!
    Thanks!

  14. #14 MH
    December 8, 2008

    Sorry to be pedantic, but there can be no atheist charities (nor theist charities) because organisations don’t have the capacity to believe in anything. There are religious charities, and secular charities. Secular charities can be formed and run by theists or atheists, and the same goes for religious charities (though I don’t expect any were formed by atheists).

    If a charity doesn’t have religious elements in its ethos, it is secular.

  15. #15 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    I was just wondering if anyone knows of any non-religious organizations that have child sponsor type programs? Or are those entirely monopolized by christians? I didn’t see any on the list, but I’m hoping they do exist somewhere!
    Thanks!

    I’m pretty sure Big Brothers Big Sisters isn’t religiously affiliated. I’ve never had any issues in my dealings with them

  16. #16 Matt Heath
    December 8, 2008

    Sorry to be pedantic

    Is anyone ever really sorry to be pedantic? I can’t see why it’s a thing to be sorry for.

  17. #17 MH
    December 8, 2008

    “Is anyone ever really sorry to be pedantic? I can’t see why it’s a thing to be sorry for.”

    Hey, I’m English. I’m sorry, but I reserve the right to prefix anything with “I’m sorry”.

  18. #18 CSN
    December 8, 2008

    Two words: atheist buses. That is where my donation dollars will go for the near future.

  19. #19 Karen
    December 8, 2008

    What a great listing – we haven’t been quite as charitable as usual this season, but we still have ‘gifts’ to buy some of our family members. Some need nothing and are hard to shop for, and donations make great gifts.

    I’m also happy to see the Red Cross on the list. I’ve been seriously thinking about getting back into emergency services, and they appear to be the primary training agency around here.

  20. #20 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    You’d expect that in the advanced economies of the OECD, at the begining of the 21st century, those who have much more than enough would pay enough taxes so that the community efficiently ensures that those who live in these countries and don’t have enough to survive can at least survive.

    It’s unbeleavable, unacceptable, nonsensical, shameful that still today, with an average GDP per capita over $35,000 we still need charities to take care of the most defavorised in our own rich countries (NB: I’m not talking of the work done by charities in the emrging economies).

    Also, the more religious a nation, the higher the need for charity. In the old pre-revolutionary model, the aristocrats and the bourgeois gave as charity to the Church that took care of running hospices and distribution operations. That helped to maintain the poor very poor and very religious. Hasn’t changed much nowadays, charity is still mostly a tool of religions.

  21. #21 Techskeptic
    December 8, 2008

    Pixelsnake @13

    I beleive there are two on the list. I think I put them up front.

  22. #22 Andy
    December 8, 2008

    I don’t have a suggestion for a list of charities, but I can recommend a specific one – The Ankizy Fund. This charity was founded by Dr. David Krause, a vertebrate paleontologist at Stony Brook University. The organization builds schools, digs wells, and provides medical and dental care in the forgotten corners of Madagascar where dinosaur fossils abound but access to education and health care do not.

    As someone who has been a participant in many of the expeditions to Madagascar (and a tangential participant to the work of the Ankizy Fund), I can confidently say that the Ankizy Fund is doing a lot of good, one small step at a time. Many folks in more developed countries may not believe it, but the simple act of pulling an infected tooth can save a child’s life. Furthermore, many of the children in these villages are the first in their families to get the gift of literacy.

  23. #23 clinteas
    December 8, 2008

    Neg @ 20,

    You’d expect that in the advanced economies of the OECD, at the begining of the 21st century, those who have much more than enough would pay enough taxes so that the community efficiently ensures that those who live in these countries and don’t have enough to survive can at least survive.

    I couldnt agree more.Thats why I have a bit of a problem with the whole charity idea,its essentially taxpayers helping out the underprivileged that the country we pay our taxes in should be helping out.
    Agree its different if you give for a charity after some external catastophe in a foreign country.

    It’s unbeleavable, unacceptable, nonsensical, shameful that still today, with an average GDP per capita over $35,000 we still need charities to take care of the most defavorised in our own rich countries

    Absolutely true,this seems to be quite the tradition in the USA tho,and in Australia,btw.
    I dont usually give to them.

  24. #24 Ranson
    December 8, 2008

    @ pixelsnake

    James Randi has recommended “Plan USA”, I believe. On another note, the JREF is probably getting my money this year.

    This list is something I’d been looking for. I always liked the idea of the “Big Book/catalog” charities (Heifer international, etc.), especially when getting kids to help out, because it gave them something tangible to pick out and say “I helped with that”. I dislike them because what you pick out usually doesn’t matter — they spend the money how they want. Understandable, but it still pisses me off a little. This gives me some other options to work with.

  25. #25 mina
    December 8, 2008

    “I was just wondering if anyone knows of any non-religious organizations that have child sponsor type programs?”

    yes! friendsforeducation.org gives educational scholarships to poor dalit in india, mostly rural, half of them girls. all the money you donate goes to the kids, the org’s overhead is handled by the organizers and there are opportunities to connect directly with the kids.

    i spent *years* looking for a suitable grassroots organization without a religious agenda, some kind of feminist commitment and a sense of decency, and was extremely happy to have found FFE. it’s not explcitly atheist, and there are some religious people involved in the org’s activities, but there are vocal atheists invovled too, and it is run in a secular manner.

  26. #26 Frank
    December 8, 2008

    For our recent wedding, we asked for no gifts – just a donation to the guest’s favorite worthy cause. We got some very interesting ones, including the Human Rights Campaign, Doctors Without Borders and the local food bank.

    It’s a great list but I’d add the Central Asia Foundation, which starts and funds schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, open to boys and girls. http://www.ikat.org

  27. #27 Holbach
    December 8, 2008

    I think it is pathetic and ironic that atheists, the most rational segment of the population, have to be put in such a position as the looked-down upon minority out of tune and step with the irrational majority rabble.

  28. #28 Marshall
    December 8, 2008

    I don’t like the question of “atheist charities”–there’s barely any atheist groups period (far less than churches), why should there be atheist charities? I’d expect there would be as many atheist charities as there are lightbulb-designer charities, or ink chemist charities. A better question would be “how many non-theistic charities are there?” I can think a few right now: Red Cross, Salvation Army, Make the Road, American Heart Association…

  29. #29 corsair the pirate
    December 8, 2008

    Marshall: I think you need to check out the Salvation Army before including them in your list:

    The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

  30. #30 teacherninja
    December 8, 2008

    @20 & 23:

    Yeah, but not all of these groups are for the “underprivileged.” Some are for civil rights, the environment, etc.

    just sayin.

  31. #31 Annis
    December 8, 2008

    Pixelsnake:

    You can sponsor a child through Save the Children, and AFAIK they have no religious affiliations or indoctrinations.

  32. #32 Techskeptic
    December 8, 2008

    marshal,

    eh? The entire list I posted is exactly what you describe. They are non-theistic. There happen to be a few charities that promote atheism. I called the port atheist charities simply due to the direct meaning of atheist.

    If I didnt want to piss of religionists, I would have called them secular.

    Salvation army is a theistic organization. I was surprised to find ou tthat habitat for humanity is also.

    if there are secular charities that you know about, please list them in the comments, I will include them next year after I research them.

  33. #33 Riman Butterbur
    December 8, 2008

    It may be time to give a 2nd look to Habitat for Humanity. They seem to be getting more secular all the time.

    There are also:
    http://www.gutenberg.org
    http://librivox.org

  34. #34 Robert
    December 8, 2008

    Marshall at #28, look up the Salvation Army before you call them secular. They are an explicitly religious (Christian) organisation, founded in the great tradition that moderate religious groups such as Hamas follow today.

    In their early days they used to smash up pubs, due to their intolerant attitude towards drinking. They’ve left their violent roots behind (they say), but they still practice intolerance and bigotry (they refuse to hire homosexuals, and claim anti-discrimination laws don’t apply to them), they adopt cult-like rules (officers of the Army can not marry outside of the Army), they cheat on their taxes, and they protect and shelter children. Oops, I meant they protect and shelter child abusers, who prey on the homeless and abandoned children they take in. (See Wikipedia for the details)

    Giving money to the Salvation Army is an explicit acceptance of all of the above.

  35. #35 Ka
    December 8, 2008

    Pixelsnake # 13,
    another suggestion: SOS Children’s Villages
    http://www.sos-usa.org/Pages/default.aspx

  36. #36 Cannabinaceae
    December 8, 2008

    I tend to agree, but would simply call it sad that private donations are still needed, beyond taxes, to help the oppressed and underprivileged, or to protect ecoresources. It means that the memeosphere has yet to implement an effective way to provide a sufficiently benevolent cultural medium to the entire population.

    I wouldn’t call it surprising.

    In the best of all plausible worlds, I’d like to be able to donate to verifiably excellent agencies that rescue the youngest of the unprivileged, or take ecoresources out of the real estate game as well as sue or otherwise impede oppressors who wantonly damage them.

    Right now I’m mostly Nature Conservancy and Heifer Project, as proxies for my true desires. I doubt either of them are ideal, and H.P. has a problem (for me) with cuteness.

    On a prior topic: pedantry that explicitly calls attention to itself smacks of self-righteousness; more effective pedants figure out a way to work pedantry into their discourse.

  37. #37 Techskeptic
    December 8, 2008

    please post your suggestions at the post at my blog. I will be updating it from my own work and from suggestions put there. This post of PZs will get lost in the cobwebs of my mind.

    Much like he forgot about my list even though he linked to it last year.
    :)

  38. #38 Shelley Mountjoy
    December 8, 2008

    http://www.atheistvolunteers.org is a great place to post your individual charitable efforts made without an invisible friend. :)

  39. #39 sphitz
    December 8, 2008

    If you don’t mind my two cents, I’d like to state that my current favorite “charity” is a microlending organization by the name of kiva.org. Check it out, you loan, people in need use your money, give it back, and then you can take it out of the system or re-lend it. Pretty awesome (and no god necessary).

    http://www.kiva.org/

  40. #40 pixelsnake
    December 8, 2008

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I knew there had to be some out there, I obviously was just not asking the right people before :)

  41. #41 Tropical Pete
    December 9, 2008

    Hey PZ,

    I gave you a gift certificate from Kiva:
    http://atheist-monkey.blogspot.com/2008/10/gift-certificate-to-pz-myers.html

    There are many secular microfinance institutions that you can loan through which help reduce poverty.

    Cheers,
    Pete

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