Category Archives: Charity

Pray if you must, but actually do something, too.

One of my friends was recently diagnosed with a relapse of breast cancer. All her Facebook friends are pledging her their prayers. That’s all well and good, but like the saying goes, prayer and an aspirin will cure your headache.

As an atheist, of course, I don’t pray. I know it won’t do any real good. But I still have an urge to show some sort of sign of commiseration  with my friend. “Sending good thoughts” isn’t much better; it’s just another way of saying “praying” without getting a god into it. On that note, I’ll be making a donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, since a good portion of their funds actually go toward research, education, and patient care. I urge everyone who can to donate something, because at this point, it’s basically a given that you have known, currently know, or will know someone with breast cancer. Our money can do real good in this case.

Church vandalized with FSM graffiti… help them out or not? [Update: probably not.]

**Please read the updates at the end before considering donating.**

Last night, some vandals took it upon themselves to spray paint symbols and slogans related to the Flying Spaghetti Monster all over two Christian churches in Bend, Oregon. It’s a dick move; there’s no justification for this sort of stupid behavior. I don’t care if it’s a church; I don’t care how offensive I find their message; you don’t attack someone’s property.

Bobby Henderson, the “prophet” of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, released a statement about the vandalism:

This is not ok.  This is counter to everything we stand for and acts like these only set back our cause.  I don’t know who did this, but I will try to find out.

Over at Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta started a cleanup fund for the church, calling for atheists to find it in our hearts to chip in. (If you want, you can do so below.)

[donation widget removed. see the update.]

There’s a lot of disagreement in the atheist blogs(among commenters, at least) about whether or not atheists should be donating to a church at all, even for something like this. After all, say the opponents, this’ll just free up their money to spread their message, and judging from what church officials have said about the perpetrators, their message is none too friendly:

“Yeah, it’s a bummer what we have to go through and redo all this for a brand new facility,” said Rod Kirk, the director of facilities for Westside Church. “But the bottom line is that God is the one that’s going to get revenge — we aren’t.”

God’s going to get revenge? Really? Yeah, that’s totally not creepy at all.

Hemant and others suggest that this would be a good opportunity to “be the change we want to see in the world,” as the saying goes. After all, we might not expect a church to pony up some cash to help out if an atheist billboard or bus ad gets vandalized; we should aim to be the bigger person.

So… what would you do? Chip in to help out a crime victim (and give atheists some good PR), or refuse on principle to donate to a religious organization?

* UPDATE *

It turns out that this church is much less than friendly. This comes straight from their website:

“Are you struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions? Have you lived as a homosexual but now are looking for a way out. [sic] You have come to the right place. New Dawn offers hope and help to people seeking freedom from homosexuality.

This is a group that gets tax-free donations to support the unscientific, hateful idea that homosexuality is a disorder that needs to be cured. So… they can kindly get fucked, as far as I’m concerned.

* UPDATE 2 *

Hemant has posted some followup to the story, including a video from the local news covering the fundraising effort.