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Christian Charity vs. Non-theist Charity

November 24, 2011

Charity. The very word seems to be steeped in Christianity, doesn’t it?

This is probably due, in part, to the fact that the Vulgate often translated the Greek word agape (love of fellow man, also used to refer to the love between men and god) as caritatem (Latin, meaning “costliness, esteem, affection”, the word from which “charity” is derived) in what may have been an attempt to avoid the suggestion of the Latin amor which could be thought of in a more sexual manner. This translation made its way into the later English translations (Wyclif, Rhemish, and Tindale all used the word “charity”) and thus, the language of modern Christianity.

The other reason the idea of charity seems so connected to Christianity is that the scriptures mention in a number of places that the poor should be cared for. This is present in the Old Testament in some places and even more so in the New Testament. It is, by no means, the central point of any of the scriptures, but it is talked about. In fact, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

And Christians do give a lot. Most churches teach tithing (an idea which, though I have always felt was misinterpreted, comes from the old testament practice of giving a tenth of one’s produce to the Levites who, being charged with the operation of the temple were not allowed to own land, could not provide for themselves. But beyond that, they often support missions outside of their churches or give to religious charitable organizations.

I am sure that if you look at the amount of money that is given to nonprofits by people claiming to be Christian versus the money given to nonprofits by people claiming to be non-christian the scale would tip very favorably on the side of the Christians. (Possibly, I haven’t taken the time to look up actual numbers on this, so if I am wrong then please correct me. It is likely that the large donations of a few very rich non-theists like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have leveled the playing field.) However, I don’t think you can count all of Christian giving as charitable donations.

I will use the budget of the church I work for as an example. Our budget for the 2012 year is $367,441. This is for a church with an average weekly attendance of 100-115, mostly middle class to lower-middle class folk and a large number of retired people. Of that budget, 10% goes to the Southern Baptist’s Cooperative Program, 2% goes to the local Association, 1% goes toward benevolence, and 1% goes toward church missions. $64,884 out of $367, 441 is going to “missions” of one kind or another.

The rest is used for to pay the pastor, myself, and other employees, pay for insurance and supply costs, building maintenance, utilities, and literature. Christians see all of that as charitable work. They view the missions the church supports overseas, across the nation, and across the city as charitable and they also think of the work the church itself does as charitable. However, even if you look at just the 14% that the church actually designates as charity, only a very small percentage of that would be comparable to what a non-theist would donate. Of the largest chunk, 10% to the Cooperative Program, some is used to help the needy in our country and around the world, but more of it is used to educate ministers, support local associations, and send out missionaries. Christians see missions work as charitable, but they often provide very little actual help and a lot of evangelism. In the end, only 1% of my church’s budget goes to actually helping needy people directly (the 1% designated as benevolence). I would say it is likely that far less than 5% of the budget ever makes it into the hands of any needy person in a meaningful way.

I’m willing to bet (again, no hard numbers) that the charitable donations of Christians to organizations outside of their local church are far smaller than the donations atheists make to similar charities. They have, after all, already given 10% of their income to their local church, there isn’t a lot left over! (The churches I have been in teach that 10% is what is required of a Christian to give to their church, they are required to give sacrificially above that to support missions and organizations outside the church, it is taught!)

And even if you count those donations Christians make to organizations outside their church, they are often not giving to something that will spend the majority of that money only on helping the needy. For years I have sponsored a child through Compassion International. This is an organization that matches children in poverty with Christian sponsors. The child is provided with essentials for living: clothes, food, and water as well as an education. However, that education is heavily Christian-centric. They are taught the myths of the bible and Jesus as truth and I am sure they receive a second-rate education in critical thinking and science. Thus, the majority of what Christians give is used in the furthering of their message. One can hardly fault them for spending so much money on this, if what they believe were really true and the message they share is the only thing that will prevent people from suffering for all eternity then it would be money well-spent.

It does not give them the right to claim that they are more active and committed to helping the poor and needy of the world than unbelievers are. It is very likely that more atheist money goes directly to helping to ease the suffering of those in need than Christian money does. Christians are more concerned with the state of a person after they die than with their living conditions here. Most of the time meeting their “earthly” needs is only seen as a means to an end: converting them and meeting their “spiritual” needs.

I didn’t originally intend to write 1000 words on why Christians probably don’t support charity any more than atheists do, but it is a matter that I have run across quite often and felt that my position needed a little defending. That said, I wanted to provide some resources for the non-religious folks who want to give. Today in America we are, after all, celebrating all the wonderful things we have to be thankful for in our lives and many see this as a time to help those who aren’t quite as well-off as we are.

There were a few of things that prompted me to write this post, and I really had meant to make this a month ago. First was a friend of mine in our local Freethought group posting a link to a child sponsorship program for a secular humanist school in Uganda. The second was an e-mail I received from the Foundation Beyond Belief concerning the crisis in the Horn of Africa. A third reason is what prompted the first 1200 words or so of this post: I want non-theists to be known for giving, to be known for helping the less fortunate around us. I would love for it to be seen that Christian charity is only a means to spread their myths while the secular world is interested in helping ease suffering in this life.

So I’m going to give you a short list of non-religious charities that I know of, I am sure there are more and they can be posted in the comments.

There is, of course, the Foundation Beyond Belief which I mentioned earlier. They do all the hard work for you in finding the most efficient charities in various categories. You set a donation level and select causes you are interested in and they do the rest. If, for some reason, you are not happy with a charity they pick for you then you can reallocate your donation to another.

The FBB are the ones who e-mailed me about the crisis in the Horn of Africa. The countries in the Horn are currently experiencing the most severe drought in 60 years, a situation which has been called the world’s “worst humanitarian crisis” by the UN High Commissioner. They have a project going on right now through the end of the year to raise money to help. You still have a little more than a month, so check it out!

There is also that school in Uganda that I mentioned. The Kasese Humanist Primary School provides a secular education for children in Uganda. The curriculum has an emphasis on critical thinking and science. $30 will sponsor a child for a semester, $90 will sponsor them for a while year. What better way to spread humanism and science than by helping educate children?

This is just for helping out with the larger situation. There are ways to give locally, too, though in some places it can be hard to find truly secular outlets for it. I encourage you to give of your time and abilities as well as your money. And, as I said above, feel free to mention other secular charities in the comments.

60 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2011 2:12 am

    Thank you for this. I, too, am very tired of the word charity being synonomous with Christianity, when non-theists have morals that are just as strong as those of a theist’s, if not stronger. We also like to help people be who they are and achieve their own goals, instead of constantly trying to superimpose our own upon them, which I personally feel is a much better way to go about being charitable.

    • November 24, 2011 2:48 am

      But how can you be moral and an atheist? Doesn’t god give us all our morals? :D Yeah, you are right, but the Christians try to pretend they have the monopoly on morality and charity and that without their god everyone are terrible, violent animals only looking out for themselves. If you make people believe that then Christianity looks pretty appealing, without they have lost a major selling point.

      • Cynthia Bateman permalink
        February 7, 2014 11:44 pm

        “but the Christians try to pretend they have the monopoly on morality and charity and that without their god everyone are terrible, violent animals only looking out for themselves.”

        This is an out and out lie. Shame on you.

        • February 8, 2014 6:26 am

          That is not a lie. Countless atheists have had to rebut the lie that they cannot be good without god, and that all morality comes from god. Go have a listen at Ray Comfort, for one. Pat Robertson, too.

        • Cynthia Bateman permalink
          February 8, 2014 11:55 am

          As you have done throughout this article and your responses, you have made a blanket statement condemning Christians in general. You name only two, two, who I’m guessing you have not questioned directly and are lifting a comment out of context and giving it your own spin. Are there Christians who feel that way? I would imagine that there are. Do most Christians or Christians in general feel that way. No. Most of us know people who are atheists or whose beliefs differ from our own and find that they can be people of love and compassion just like Christians can.

        • February 8, 2014 12:10 pm

          Most Christians that I have known, or debated online, believe that God is the sole source of morality and that without him they, and everyone else, would revert to some horrible animalistic state where they rape and kill and steal with no control over their own actions. Up until just three ago, as far as I knew, almost everyone I knew was Christian and the majority believed this. It is what the evangelical church teaches.

        • Cynthia Bateman permalink
          February 8, 2014 12:21 pm

          Oh. My. Stars. The evangelical church teaches that without God, non-Christians
          “and everyone else, would revert to some horrible animalistic state where they rape and kill and steal with no control over their own actions”? Are you serious? This is just so far over the top, I am almost speechless! I belong to an evangelical church and the only person I’ve EVER heard this from is you!

        • February 8, 2014 12:42 pm

          The bible teaches in multiple places that we are sinful from birth, unable to be in the presence of god because of our sin and deserving of death. There is a passage that says that there is no one good. There is a branch of theology that can be seen in sine versions of popular hymns that referee to man as nothing more than a worm before god because of how terrible we are.

          The idea that all morality comes from god is argued in these grounds, and also from the perspective that the only reason anyone knows right from wrong is because god gives humans a “moral compass”, and that without god there is no basis for morality. These are common views among American Christians.

        • Cynthia Bateman permalink
          February 8, 2014 4:28 pm

          You do tend to carry things to extremes, don’t you? Revert to animalistic behavior? Rape, kill, steal and can’t control ourselves? I am aware of the teaching of total depravity – and I happen to agree with it. But that includes many things and does not necessarily teach that we will all (you said “everybody else”) revert to such behavior. Depravity includes pride, selfishness, covetousness, etc.

        • May 31, 2014 10:23 pm

          There are many Christians who believe that without their God this is what would become of something. They think that if someone truly doesn’t believe in a god, and particularly in their God, that they will be free to steal, kill, and rape as they see fit. Just because you don’t believe this doesn’t mean that others don’t. They justify the fact that I, and most of the atheists in the world, do not do these things by saying that we must still believe on some level.

  2. November 25, 2011 6:51 pm

    Another reminder that I don’t really fit into either of the categories — partially because I’m a Christian who has never thought to divide Christian and non-religious giving, partially because these days I’m attending a Mennonite congregation that has in its membership statement that they are committing to live simply in order to meet the needs of others (in the physical way you described). I believe all of it brings about the Kingdom of God — which, while you would certainly use different words, I think it really something we are both trying to create: a world where all have enough, where peace and love abound. The Christians I tend to be around most often these days don’t believe they have a monopoly on those traits. They seek to honor and care for all people, regardless of religious belief. Yes, my context is faith. I sponsor two Compassion kids. I think I’ve also given to almost all of the “non-religious” organizations on your list (I certainly try to push every chance I get!). My biggest hope is that all of us can work together to care for others. I’m thankful that you are on the team with me — and do see you as with me, not part of the opposing team.

    • November 27, 2011 3:31 am

      Yes, I know you push every chance you get, you’re the one who introduced me to them back when it was just Water Partners. :)

    • November 27, 2011 3:46 am

      Also I would never argue that Christians, in general, do not help the needy. Just that they don’t all contribute nearly as much to that cause as they tend to think they do. Also, I’m sure that the average Southern Baptist in the pew thinks that more of their money goes to helping the needy than truly does.

      I should also point out that there are some churches that do more, both in the name of missions and just helping those in need, and churches that do less than mine. As far as the SBC is concerned, I’d say we are average.

      • Concerned permalink
        December 2, 2017 1:11 am

        So your whole schtick in this opinion filled rant is a petty charitable competition between religious and non-religious people? I wasn’t aware that charity was for egotistical gains, but your mess of an article proves your stance. See, the problem with people like you, is that you take some words from a couple of christians you watch or “debate online” out of context (or perhaps those few you do debate actually do feel a certain way about it), and simply stereotype and group a whole entire entity of people with similar beliefs, that differ from yours, into your misguided pontificated argument so you can feel some kind of satisfaction for believing what you believe. Your whole article sounds like you are working out personal issues as you are describing your absolute abhorrence toward people with religious affiliations. The thing about anti-theists like yourself (yes, you are the epitome of an anti-theist, not simply an atheist) is that the people that tend to think like you, crave attention. You stated in this that you worked at a church. Why on earth would someone that is so obviously against such self righteous holier than thou people, proceed to work with them simultaneously? You understand these people believe in an afterlife consisting of a very pleasant place, and a very unappealing place and it is their goal to try to save you from that unpleasant place, right? So if you don’t believe the way they do then okay, and I’m sorry you are insecure enough to seek these people out and have unpleasant words with them too. But my question is, why do you feel the need to do this? Why do you feel the need to preach hate about something you don’t care about? That’s depressing to think about.

  3. November 26, 2011 11:25 am

    Where I live, there is a large percentage of Mormons – over 50%. Their idea of charity is that they share among themselves. They support each other and very little of their tithing goes to any outside cause. They have collective farms that are used to feed the poor among them. And as to tithing – if you don’t give, they will come to you and tell you how much you owe. One of them told me a long time ago that they came to his farm and told him he could donate a calf if he didn’t have any money.

    • November 27, 2011 3:36 am

      I have heard other Christians argue before that Christ was only referring to fellow Christians when he was talking about “the least of these” since he includes “my brothers” in his statement. It has been a tiny minority, though, and usually Christians do agree that we need to help the poor, regardless of their beliefs.

      • November 30, 2011 10:06 am

        Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian. And any cursory study of Jews shows that they believe their laws are for them, not for others. Jesus specifically said to not teach Gentlles, so Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, was sort of going against what Jesus supposedly said, keeping in mind that if there were a Jesus at all there is no way that we could have known what he said. (Mark is a fictional epic, not a history.)

        • December 1, 2011 8:53 am

          I don’t think there is much question as to whether there was a Jesus at all — it is whether he is the Son of God who was resurrected after dying that provides the struggle. There certainly are passages that seem to limit Jesus’s ministry, but even HE goes against that later. Folks argue on whether coming “for the lost sheep of Israel” was simply the beginning of ministry, or if Jesus grew in his own understanding. I think an argument that Jesus wouldn’t approve of teaching and/or caring for Gentiles ignores the large part of what Jesus did — which included healing Gentiles and caring for women: neither group held much status among the Israelites of the time.

          As the resident (moderate-liberal) Christian, I would also suggest there is a lot of room between fictional epic and history.

        • Cynthia Bateman permalink
          February 7, 2014 11:46 pm

          “Jesus specifically said to not teach Gentlles,”

          This is incorrect. Jesus specifically told the disciples to “go into all the world” and preach the gospel.

        • February 8, 2014 6:30 am

          “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'” Matthew 10:5-6 NASB

        • Cynthia Bateman permalink
          February 8, 2014 11:47 am

          The passage you quote refers to the first time Jesus sent out the disciples to preach. They were being trained. Had he sent them to the Gentiles or the Samaritans – both enemies of the Jews – they would most likely have been killed. As it was, he said he was sending them as sheep among wolves. You have lifted the passage completely out of context.

          At the end of his ministry, after they had been trained, Jesus told them to go to all the world – including gentiles.

          18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18, et seq.

        • February 8, 2014 12:06 pm

          I fail to see how it was lifted out of context. Just because an explanation as to why he tells them not to teach gentiles doesn’t change the fact that this is what he tells them. Regarding the later passage, it is just as likely this is an internal contradiction–especially dune the book of Matthew seems to be a mashup of multiple sources.

        • Cynthia Bateman permalink
          February 8, 2014 12:14 pm

          You are the one who quoted Matthew. I merely stuck to the book you started with. I could have as easily quoted Mark. And from your response here, I can see that you are not interested in the whole truth of a statement, but only how you can spin it to support your point of view.

        • February 8, 2014 12:48 pm

          Do you consider Mark to be a more reliable source, then? If not, then there is still a contradiction (Matthew uses source material from Mark as well as another source(s)). Yes, your interpretation is one possible explanation, but why is it more likely than an internal contradiction in a book that was complied from various sources?

        • February 8, 2014 12:49 pm

          (Please excuse any odd typos–I’m pudding from my phone and it likes to “correct” what I write, sometimes in amusing and confusing ways.) Months later correction: pudding=posting. It wasn’t an intentional mistake, lol!

        • Cynthia Bateman permalink
          February 8, 2014 1:22 pm

          I consider them both to be reliable. If you do not consider Matthew to be reliable, then why did you quote from it? It was reliable enough for you to use to support your position when you took it out of context but it suddenly loses that reliability when I use it? It is not a contradiction at all; they two are different directives given at different points in the ministry.

        • May 31, 2014 10:27 pm

          I do apologize for not replying for a few months. As I’ve stated in other comments I don’t regularly update these days and don’t check my comments often, either.

          I quote scripture to show the inconsistency in the book that Christianity is based on. And if you don’t base your Christianity on scripture then you’re either making it up, or simply believing things that have been told to you by other people who either made it up or did the same thing. I don’t quote it because I believe it to be a reliable source of information.

  4. thegodless permalink
    November 27, 2011 10:48 pm

    I have to admit that the charitable infrastructure of the church is something to behold. If religion was to suddenly go belly-up, I’m not so sure us nonbelievers are prepared to fill that void. Although we have the hurdle of being generally disorganized, I think we do give as much as the religious and have an advantage of being free from the costs of promoting a jealous all powerful god (that can’t seem to do any of his own promoting).

    • December 2, 2011 10:27 am

      I’ve been thinking about this one and I’ve come to the conclusion that if there were less religion there would probably be less poverty and fewer people who need help. Like Christopher Hitchens says, the way to end poverty is to empower women. And there’s a strong connection between the right-wing ideology and religious zealots.

  5. December 3, 2011 12:33 pm

    @Jennifer –

    There is certainly a very big question as to whether Jesus was a real person. I have no doubt that there were a number of Jesi street preachers. Flavius Josephus mentions at least 7 people named Jesus. But whether there was a real street preacher who became the central figure in the religion is certainly in question. Paul tells us nothing about jesus other than that he was crucified and came back to life, but we don’t know if he was speaking of a real figure or a figure in another level of existence, which was common thinking back then. The first gospel, Mark, is a provably fictitious account made up from such elements as snippets of Hebrew scriptures and Homeric epics. If there was a single bit of Mark that was some sort of history it would be impossible to sort it from the fable. The other gospel writers copied Mark, leaving out what they didn’t like and adding what they thought necessary to their own stories. And they were stories – these cultured Greek writers had no real idea what some street preacher in an undeveloped part of the empire may have said or done.

  6. MaryLynne permalink
    December 21, 2011 1:40 pm

    I wanted to let you know I’m sponsoring a child now at the Uganda Kasese school based on your column. What an amazing school. Thank you.

    PS – it’s $120 a year now, not $90. Still a deal to help educate future leaders of Africa.

    • December 22, 2011 3:29 pm

      Thanks! I’m glad that my post has made a difference in your life and in some child’s life! Also thanks for the update on the pricing. It’s also still a deal compared to Compassion: $32 a moth comes out to $384 a year.

  7. James Trent permalink
    December 22, 2011 12:38 pm

    Interesting thoughts, I would say that it maybe depends which christian charity you’re talking about. Charities that work a lot abroad most likely have very high overheads which eat into the potential good work they can do, just the nature of the beast unfortunately.

    • December 22, 2011 3:45 pm

      The overhead isn’t so much my beef with them, I understand that. And actually, I hoped to point out that a huge percentage of the local church’s expenditure is on overhead costs that are just something that goes along with maintaining the spaces for the size groups they have. The issue I have with Christian charities is when they try to claim to be a charity while most of their work is in spreading their message rather than simply helping those in need.

      Yes, there are plenty of Christian charities that don’t do this and that do provide a lot of help, but I just think that the average Christian considers a larger part of their giving to be charity than actually is, since they consider their donations to the church and those organizations which mainly proselytize to be charitable donations.

      The overhead issue is why the cost for sponsoring a child through Compassion is so much higher than through the Ugandan school I mentioned. Since the Ugandan school is one school, run locally it is a lot cheaper than the mega-national entity that is Compassion International. I also think Compassion provides more for the children involved, but they do have a heavy faith-based education to go along with that. I would much rather help a child become a critical thinker than enslaved to the religion I have so recently escaped. :)

  8. January 9, 2012 4:04 am

    I am writing to thank the Administrators of the Secret Atheist website for listing Kasese Humanist Primary School project on your website.
    I founded this school such that i promote free thought and humanist philosophy to the young minds, critical thinking and reason are the best we can give to the children, we should offer to them a balanced education that is free from dogmas and indoctrinations.
    Keep monitoring the progress of the school and many thanks for standing with us.

  9. Winkman permalink
    May 20, 2012 6:31 pm

    Ever wonder why they call it the Red “Cross” ??

    • John permalink
      March 5, 2016 11:22 am

      For the same reason they call it the Red Crescent in Muslim countries —to unbelievingly imply that the god of whatever religion sent them.

    • March 5, 2016 11:37 am

      …to unbelievingly imply that the god of [YOUR RELIGION HERE] sent them.

  10. August 30, 2013 8:25 am

    the christian sitting in the pew gave charitably of his money. The rest of your “thoughts” are merely misguided ramblings bourn from a hatred of christianity.

    • December 5, 2013 3:50 pm

      The Christian sitting in the pew giving to the church may think he is giving charitably, but most of the time the majority of that money is being used for evangelism and not actually offering aid to those in need. This is not to say that none of the money goes to help people in need, and it is not to say that Christians never support secular charity. In fact, I would imagine that the majority of those who give think that the majority of their money is going to help the needy, and the rest think that evangelizing is meeting a more dire need than feeding, clothing, and sheltering people. But just because they think something is true does not make it so.

  11. Sam permalink
    November 29, 2013 12:07 pm

    I just wanted to clarify one error in your post. “The other reason the idea of charity seems so connected to Christianity is that the scriptures mention in a number of places that the poor should be cared for. This is present in the Old Testament in some places and even more so in the New Testament. It is, by no means, the central point of any of the scriptures, but it is talked about.”

    The Bible contains more than 300 verses on the poor, social justice, and how fellow human beings are supposed to help. I would argue it is a central point to many of the scriptures.

    Luke 12:33. “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys.”

    Not arguing against your article, just against that one point you made.

    • December 5, 2013 4:00 pm

      I’m not sure exactly how many verses in the Bible address these things, but there are over 30,000 verses in the scripture and if your estimate of more than 300 is close to correct that is less than 1% of the entirety of scripture dedicated to these topics. Hardly central.

      However, to most Christians, these things (with the exception of social justice, that is arguably not a key tenant of the evangelical church) play an important role in their faith. Christians are often far better than their religion, magnifying the things in their religion they feel to be good, and ignoring or rationalizing those things they would rather didn’t exist (forcing a victim to marry her rapist?). So there are many Christian denominations and individual Christians who place the emphasis on helping the poor and downtrodden, but I have a hard time finding that as central to the scripture on which they have based their beliefs.

  12. Cynthia Bateman permalink
    December 26, 2013 12:36 am

    “I would love for it to be seen that Christian charity is only a means to spread their myths while the secular world is interested in helping ease suffering in this life.”

    May I ask why you would desire this? It is neither noble nor charitable to wish ill on anyone else or any other organization. Do you feel it is necessary to denigrate another to uplift yourself? Personally, I think it would be far more desirable if both Christian organizations and secular organizations helped to ease suffering and for it to be seen that way.

    • February 7, 2014 11:16 am

      Because most Christian charity isn’t about easing suffering. If the sole focus of Christian charity was to help improve people’s lives without proselytizing then I would have no issue with it. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Most Christian charities spread their religion’s doctrine, and usually they see that as their primary goal. It is only understandable–they believe that belief in their religion improved lives–but I don’t count it as charity when you require a child to go through religious indoctrination in order to receive the food, clothes, and the education promised to her.

      • Cynthia Bateman permalink
        February 7, 2014 1:00 pm

        You stated more than once in your article that you have not checked figures, so have no real idea of the numbers involved. However, over and over in both your article and in your responses, you say “most” when claiming that Christian charities are not interested in easing suffering. Since you really have no idea of the numbers involved, this sounds more like Christian-bashing than a credible complaint. You say that YOU don’t count it as charity when a child is required to go through religious training (“indoctrination” is actually the word you used) in order to receive the basic needs of her life. Do you actually know – having done the research – how much of the education received by these children is religious training and not the “three R’s”? I assume when they graduate from these schools, they are able to read and spell and write at an adult level and perform advanced math. Is this not education? And if you don’t call receiving food, clothing, shelter and education at no cost to the recipient, donated by others who receive no direct benefit and have no expectation of being repaid charity, what would you call it?

        I don’t think any of the Christian charitable organizations or even churches, for that matter, try to hide the fact that they desire those they serve to hear about Christ. It’s not as though they are being fraudulent in their dealings with the needy. Is the coat one child receives after hearing about Christ less warm than the coat received by the child who does NOT hear about Christ? Are their tummies less full because a blessing was said over the food? I don’t think so – and I would guess they were glad to receive it

        • February 7, 2014 2:03 pm

          I never said that they aren’t interested in easing suffering–only that their methods are unacceptable to me. It should not be required that one be outraged at to receive aid. As I said in my previous comment, I understand the motivation and that Christians think that proselytizing is, in fact, a key in easing their suffering.

          I do not have hard numbers, but I know that it is nearly unheard of for the evangelical church our the Catholic church to provide aid free of religious strings. It is probably much more common among non-evangelical, protestant denominations to do so since it isn’t one of the tenants of their faith to spread the church’s message of salvation. There are, in fact, done religious charities that explicitly do not evangelize–Foundation Beyond Belief has an option that allows people to support religious charities that have been vetted to ensure that they do not proselytize.

          My objection to charities that proselytize as a part of their mission is twofold. First, it gives Christians the false impression that they are more charitable than secular people when they include donations to their church and church-run charities in their figures. Second, I do not like seeing aid tied into religious indoctrination. The difference in that coat you mentioned may not be apparent to the child, but it could affect their life in the long run. Perhaps the Catholic charity that gives it to them also tells them that birth control is a sin and a cycle of poverty continues because that little girl is unable to further her education while caring for an unplanned-for child. Or maybe it keeps her warm, but the evangelical group that gave it also teaches that science is not to be trusted and the earth is only 6000 years old, thereby harming her chance to receive a proper education in the sciences that would give her the tools to be competitive in the 21st century. I would much rather the cost be given freely, without religious bullshit.

  13. Cynthia Bateman permalink
    February 7, 2014 11:39 pm

    “I would love for it to be seen that Christian charity is only a means to spread their myths while the secular world is interested in helping ease suffering in this life.”

    “I never said that they aren’t interested in easing suffering–only that their methods are unacceptable to me.”
    “Because most Christian charity isn’t about easing suffering.”

    Actually, you did say it. I find it amazing that you work for a church when you are so bitter against it.

    ” It should not be required that one be outraged at to receive aid” – outraged?
    ” to provide aid free of religious strings. ” – what strings? What must they do besides listen?
    ” First, it gives Christians the false impression that they are more charitable than secular people ” – this sounds like jealousy to me – or a bit of “oneupmanship” – do you know a) that Christians on the whole feel this way (I seriously doubt that they do) and b) that they are not?

    Your “examples” (birth control; young earth) are both extreme examples. Further, after doing only a modicum of research, I have found that religion does not show up at all as a cause of poverty, so the church’s teaching on birth control as being a cause of poverty is bogus and another example of your bitterness toward the church.

    “the evangelical group that gave it also teaches that science is not to be trusted and the earth is only 6000 years old, thereby harming her chance to receive a proper education in the sciences that would give her the tools to be competitive in the 21st century”

    Science is continually changing its mind on the how and why things happen. As our understanding increases, so does our basic distrust of science. Science is not static and should not be trusted when it becomes so. You honestly think that hearing that the earth is (may be/could be) 6000 years old is going to harm a person’s chance to receive a proper education in the sciences?

    You have actually said nothing that gives evidence for your viewpoint – only your opinion backed by your bitterness. The more you say, the more your bitterness shows and the more this whole article is shown as merely a rant against Christians, and a jealous one at that.

    • February 8, 2014 6:23 am

      Again, I didn’t say that Christians aren’t interested in helping. I said that Christian charity is no more than a front for proselytizing. Most Christians think that their efforts are either mostly being used to ease people’s suffering, or think that by evangelizing they are easing suffering. There is a difference in what they perceive and what is so.

      • Cynthia Bateman permalink
        February 8, 2014 12:00 pm

        And there is a difference between you have actually said and what you now want to say that you’ve said. You still have given no evidence to back your assertion – this one or any other that you have made. This is only YOUR perception and it differs from reality.

        • February 8, 2014 12:33 pm

          What I have said then and what I say now is the same. I never said that Christians do not give, or even that they do not give to organizations that do not evangelize. What I said was that most think that finding money to the church is the same as giving to a charity. There was a study of charitable giving a few years ago that showed the most religious states gave the most add a whole, however, if you removed giving to churches then the least religious states gave more. This is another case where I’d stress that correlation does not equal causation–there are many factors that could influence this difference–but the fact remains that most Christian giving goes directly to the church. I then outlines how one church manages their money, pointing out that they do, indeed, help people with some of it.

          The purpose of my post was to point out that most Christians believe giving to their church and giving to a secular nonprofit are equal ways of being charitable, and that, because of this fact, Christians by no means have the monopoly on helping and giving. The initial numbers may look to be in Christian’s favor vs the unbeliever, but take out church giving and figure in that nonbelievers are hard to pin down as a group r then things begin to even out a bit.

          I never even asserted that atheists give more to non-religious charity than Christians. All I said was that you cannot count all Christian giving as charity

        • Cynthia Bateman permalink
          February 8, 2014 1:38 pm

          ” I never said that Christians do not give, or even that they do not give to organizations that do not evangelize.”

          Nor did I ever assert that you said that. You have said or implied that Christian organizations are not interested in easing suffering but only in proselytizing.

          You are asserting that by believing that giving to their church is equally charitable to giving to a secular organization, Christians are either deluding themselves or are somehow less charitable than non-Christians who do not give to churches. Please show me how such giving is LESS charitable rather than simply different. I am a Christian (just in case you hadn’t guessed that already!) and I give to both my church and to other religious organizations (World Concern, Salvation Army) as well as non-religious organizations (Red Cross, Shriners, local organizations). I am fully aware that my gift to the Lions Club goes to a completely different set of needs than my gift to Focus on the Family and that again is completely different than my gift to my church. Is one more charitable than another? No. They are all charitable because I give freely with no expectation of gain or thanks. Are they the same? Of course not. When I host members of the Ugandan Orphans Choir on their fundraising tour, I know that their needs are different than when I host a visiting missionary that is supported by our church. It is DIFFERENT, not LESS or MORE charitable.

          A local church is there for a purpose and its purpose is, in the main, to provide a place for corporate worship and to minister to its members. Part of that ministry is teaching and facilitating its members to care for others who have needs, both practical and spiritual, but its main purpose is to attend to its members’ spiritual needs. Parachurch organizations exist for different purposes, generally more directly meeting the practical needs of others outside the church itself. They are different goals with different results. If I wanted all my money to go to only the practical needs of people, I would give entirely to parachurch organizations set up for that purpose. But I also desire to see my local church continue in its ministries to its members, so I give to the church also. I don’t give blindly, thinking that all my money is going to the food bank or some other such charity. They’ve got to pay the electric bill somehow.

          Your whole premise is based on a comparison of apples and oranges.

        • May 31, 2014 10:25 pm

          Giving in order to progress the message of Christianity is not something I consider to be charity. Yes, there are plenty of Christians who give to secular causes, and plenty of Christian operated charities that do not proselytize (Foundation Beyond Belief even has a category of such religious charities that people can give to in order to encourage such behavior). But giving to a church or to an evangelist is not something I consider charity. Giving to a religious soup kitchen that forces the people they feed to sit through a sermon is only marginally charity in my eyes as the main trust of their mission is to proselytize, not feed hungry people.

  14. December 16, 2014 8:20 pm

    Sorry but this article is a joke. You use one example of a church you know of and try to say this is typical. Well here are some of the things you don’t consider. Does the pastor offer free counseling to those that need it? That is charitable help that comes out of the fact that the pastor is paid and is thus available when needed. Does the church offer free use of it’s building to those in need? This comes out of the building costs budget. Ours lets folks use it for free for events such as funerals. Our church staff will even provide meals for those events out of our church budget. Our church runs a food bank in its building as well. It is the largest food bank in the city. Volunteers offer free child care for needy mom’s in the upstairs rooms. All this comes out of our “general operating budget” but is definitely charity. Volunteers and staff from our church use the building and the church bus to help underprivileged kids get to after school tutoring. Staff even go to the school with donated supplies and help out in the classrooms. Last week they hosted a dinner for Christmas for all the families of the kids in that school. Members of our church donated presents and cooked and served these families. You discount the church budget and look at it with closed eyes. From there you go on to admit you have no evidence but Christians probably don’t give much more because “they already gave 10%”, well you obviously don’t know very many Christians. Second you go on to question Compassion International, stating that the education they provide can’t be all that good because it is Christian based. Seriously, Christian based home schoolers in this country have been winning every Math, Spelling and SCIENCE award; whenever they are allowed to compete. Your entire article is dripping with your dislike for Christians and your bigotry towards them. You admit several times that you have no actual evidence of your statements but you are just sure of them. I have several good friends that are not Christians and I would never assume that they are not charitable because they don’t share my beliefs. But I do know that our family believes that if you give within your means and don’t have to sacrifice, it is not true giving. And that belief is rooted in my faith. Have you ever given in such a way that you had to go without something you wanted? 90% of humanitarian charities in the world are from the Christian or the Catholic faiths. Instead of making fun of them because you disagree with their beliefs, how about you try to emulate them.

    • July 10, 2015 7:12 pm

      Nowhere in my blog post do I say that the budget of the church I used to work for reflects that of every, or even most churches in the world or even the Southern Baptist Convention. I simply used it as an example, and to illustrate a point rather than actually crunch numbers. I never claimed this to be an academic thesis studying the breakdown of church budgets and Christians’ charitable giving. The church I worked for had a fund to help people with rent and utility bills, as do many in this area and I am sure elsewhere. I did not say that none of what the church does is charitable work.

      What I did say is that much of what the church claims as charity is not the same as secular charity. Missions work is, largely, not charity. It is evangelism. The pastor’s counseling is not charity, it is part of the indoctrination. The vast majority of pastors have little to no education in counseling techniques to be able to help anyone, and many of those who do have training in counseling have a few classes, or sometimes a degree, in “pastoral counseling” which is very religion-centric.

      What you call “definitely charity” is often centered around evangelism. Christians will see that as charity, I do not.

      Christians far too often get away with claiming to be the most charitable because they claim all of their tithe/giving to the church as charity, and there are very prominent Christian charities that they give to, as well as giving to major secular organizations. Atheists also give to those secular charities, but it doesn’t get counted as “atheist” giving for the most part (organizations like Foundation Beyond Belief aside) and so it appears that the numbers are smaller. It is possibly that atheists give just as much and are just not getting counted as a “block” of givers. (I would love to see further study in this area to see what the actual numbers reveal. It’s also possible that atheists do give less, they aren’t “preached” at as much about it so it may not be at the forefront of their minds as it often is for Christians. If that is the case then perhaps we should work harder at making it the “norm” for those in our organizations.)

  15. Richard permalink
    April 6, 2015 11:03 pm

    Sorry but you are wrong about the Red Cross, it was started by a Deist named Clara Barton, far from being an atheist. Come on now, an atheist organization with the name “Red Cross”, really a cross? Planned parenthood is not a charity, it is genocide facility created to minimize the black population created by an atheist named Margaret Sanger. Here is just one of many Miss Sangers quotes.

    Woman and the New Race, ch. 6: “The Wickedness of Creating Large Families.” Here, Sanger argues that, because the conditions of large families tend to involve poverty and illness, it is better for everyone involved if a child’s life is snuffed out before he or she has a chance to pose difficulties to its family.

    [We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.

    • July 10, 2015 7:00 pm

      Simply because an organization was founded by a Christian does not make it a Christian organization. Clara Barton did not found the Red Cross–she founded the American chapter of the Red Cross. The Red Cross was started in Switzerland some years before that. The Red Cross is a secular charity–meaning it is not associated with any religion.

      In addition to abortion, Planned Parenthood also provides sexual education, STI screening, contraception, and various other services related to women’s sexual health. In fact, if the religious right would stop fighting against comprehensive sex ed and contraception the abortion rate would drop dramatically. In many ways it is the religious right adding to the number of abortions each year with their insistence on holding our society back in this respect.

      Quote mining the founder of an organization does not have any relevance to that organization’s current core values 50 years after the founder’s death.

  16. November 28, 2015 11:53 am

    Love the labeling in the comment thread. I was mining for an article to bomb a buddy of mine on FB, and, since it’s Saturday, and I had a moment, I decided to idle my cerebral activity and drift through your dribble. I was not disappointed. As I was rolling my eyes, wondering how far down I would need to boil the facts, before they could be digested, and not regurgitated in prejudice, misquote, or pure stupidity.
    Then I gave up and kept typing.
    The reasons for giving are manifold, however, most (I use the term all as little as possible, as to remain as open as possible) people who give, do so out of conviction/burden for another.
    Christians (and I use this term loosely, because nobody is a Christian unless they have chosen grace instead of works {giving, or any other rituals} to have a relationship with Christ) are supposed give out of thanks, and no NT amount is given. Tithing is a legalistic tax based on OT law for believers and non-believers alike. Giving is a conviction. It just so happens, that man(human)kind is typically absorbed with personal needs and does not see beyond his/her own shoes, which is why the list you placed up there is primarily provided for by corporate sponsors (for tax deductions most likely) – my bet.
    In related news, giving to church / missionaries, does provide for physical needs of those in the ministry.
    Clue this in your Google – Money is for physical needs – anyone’s physical needs. The spirit afterlife doesn’t require Benjis.
    Well, have a nice blog. I need to excuse myself to the lavatory. I’m engaging a far more complex and abstract thought than a typical atheist (at least this lot) can handle, so I will leave with this thought.
    It doesn’t matter how much you give, or to what physical need you attend. We all get a one way ticket to the grave, and you better be on the right train.
    My bet is on Christ, but then again, I’m only a genius.
    P.S. I didn’t see any stats on atheist individuals giving (a s***) about any charity over “Christians” giving.

  17. March 5, 2016 11:34 am

    Secret Atheist, I can almost guarantee that you have never met a single person in your entire life who actually literally follows Jesus Christ’s teachings. I know I haven’t. All that glitters “¡Christianity!” is not truly Christianity, and that easily includes the “church” that has employed you. These churches today exist for their own sake, not to serve Him on His terms. I’ve never found one church that agrees with Jesus on all points—rather, it is my experience that they all deny Him. If He came in disguise and was outspoken about His teachings which they disagree with, they would not be able to get rid of Him fast enough, and afterward they would go on having “church” as usual.

    I would like to send your a correspondence that happened between an atheist and I, if you don’t mind sending me an email. A friendly atheist asked me a question that showed me that I was not a real Christian (not in Jesus’ book anyway) and I think you’ll find the conclusion fascinating at worse.

  18. Christine permalink
    April 7, 2016 3:44 am

    you guys have no idea. No-one says that any one not a christian will end up killing etc etc. God has written the moral law in every ones heart. His rain falls on the righteous and non-righteous. He desires all to show mercy, help the needy and live for others. Christians don’t have a monopoly on altruism! Who told you that? In regards to heaven, only those who know and love him now and do His will are His and will spend eternity with Him. Why would anyone else want to – they don’t know Him on this earth so why would they suddenly think God will be welcoming them in????? You don’t get to heaven by your good works. It’s by faith in the finished work of Jesus! But keep helping the poor because at least in this life they will have some relief and happiness.

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