Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Secular Charity - No Strings Attached

Religious Charity: a necessary evil? Not necessarily.

If you're like me, you find it troubling that millions of Americans funnel billions of dollars each year into "charities" which openly admit in their mission statements that they "encourage and facilitate Christian-centered objectives" which may or may not make you nauseous. And if you're like me, you feel hopeless.

You want to give to those less fortunate than yourself. You desperately want to help that poor child in Africa you saw on the television commercial. And you know that a fraction of every dollar you donate, of every dollar everyone donates, goes towards spreading a ministry that you find repulsive in its foundation. But, alas, there are no alternatives.

Or are there?

The mantras that there would be no charity without religion and that atheists don't organize charities is simply false. There are actually plenty of good, efficient secular charities. That there is a conspicuous lack of atheist charities is simply a matter of mission; whereas, religious charities may explicitly state that it is part of their mission to spread faith of one sort or another, a charity founded by an atheist is likely to omit the unnecessary and cumbersome impediment of spreading an ideology in its mission.

In the rare instances where spreading an ideology does make its way into the mission of a secular charity, such as the Council for Secular Humanism, the focus is typically on teaching reason as an instrument of education and social progress; a decidedly different approach than the proselytizing spirit of its religious counterparts.

So here are a list of charities, secular in nature, whether explicitly or implicitly. I have included an excerpt from the website of each to give you a feeling for their mission. However, it is always prudent to do your own research before donating.

Doctors Without Borders - "MSF's decision to intervene in any country or crisis is based solely on an independent assessment of people's needs — not on political, economic, or religious interests. MSF does not take sides or intervene according to the demands of governments or warring parties."

Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason And Science - "...is actually two sister foundations of the same name, one legally constituted in Britain and the other legally incorporated in the United States. The idea of having two linked charities, with the same aims and trustees, is that donors on either side of the Atlantic can give money to charities on the other side, either RDF itself, or other charities with similar aims, that the donor can specify. RDF will, therefore provide a service to all secular and freethinking charities."

The Fred Hollows Foundation - "The Fred Hollows Foundation is inspired by work of the late Professor Fred Hollows, whose vision was for a world where no one was needlessly blind. Collectively working in over twenty countries world-wide, with the help of our supporters, we hope to build on our record of restoring sight to well over one million people."

The Carl Sagan Foundation - "...seeks to further public understanding of the goals, methods and findings of science; to identify and challenge the misuse of science and high technology; to inspire the young to think critically and to consider career pathways in science. It sees its mission most urgently in those communities where exposure to science is likely to be minimal."

The Council For Secular Humanism - "North America's leading organization for non-religious people. A not-for-profit educational association, the Council supports a wide range of activities to meet the needs of people who find meaning and value in life without looking to a god. Its activities range from magazine publishing to campaigning on ethical issues, from conferences to support networks, from educational courses to conducting secular ceremonies, from local groups to international development."

UNICEF - "For every child: health, education, equality, protection. Advance humanity."

Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation - "Bill and Melinda Gates believe every life has equal value. In 2000, they created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help reduce inequities in the United States and around the world."

I understand that I'm posting this, oh, a day or so late for 2007 tax year deductions. But this seems like a good opportunity for a new year's resolution anyhow. So get out there and donate and accept no strings attached.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nicely done! I'm writing from the future, in 2010, to let you know about another effort that launched this year.

Foundation Beyond Belief is a 501(c)(3) organization that features ten charities per quarter. Our atheist and humanist members make automatic monthly donations in the amount of their choice and distribute them among the ten charities as they wish. 100% of donations goes to the designated charities.