Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.

Helping Haiti the secular way

Those who are still wondering how to help people in Haiti may want to check out some secular ways of alleviating the suffering. Here are two.

Médecins Sans Frontières (Australia|other countries) is secular, and is making a real difference in Haiti. The server is busy right now — I hope that’s because they’re getting hammered with donations.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science has an effort going to send money to MSF and the International Red Cross. I love seeing this kind of thing happening from the RDFRS, and I hope they keep it up. As the man says:

The myth that it is only the religious who truly care is sustained largely by the fact that they tend to donate not as individuals, but through their churches. Non-believers, by contrast, give as individuals: we have no church through which to give collectively, no church to rack up statistics of competitive generosity. Non-Believers Giving Aid is not a church (that’s putting it mildly) but it does provide an easy conduit for the non-religious to help those in desperate need, whilst simultaneously giving the lie to the canard that you need God to be good.

Here’s a chance to show what non-believers can do, even without an invisible fairy to reward us after we die. All right, so appealing to a sense of competition isn’t the worthiest of motivators, but when it gets money to people who need it, who’s going to complain?

4 Comments

  1. You can't win with some people. If we do nothing, Christians crow about their altruism. If we organise and do something, other people think we're posturing.

    Dawkins' statement on the webpage strikes the right balance. Read it again. You'll see that it lists helping people first. Showing others we do good in the world is always placed second.

  2. I read it perfectly well the first time. I also read it with pleasing fluidity the second time!

    If Christians crow about their altruism, screw 'em. That's going against any Christian notion of being humble. Someone who is truly Christian doesn't broadcast their charitable acts in my book.

    I just disagree with you about Dawkins' statement striking the right balance. I have no problem with the formation of an atheist donation group.

    To quote from that website:

    "Preachers and televangelists, mullahs and imams, often seem almost to gloat over natural disasters – presenting them as payback for human transgressions, or for ‘making a pact with the devil’. Earthquakes and tsunamis are caused not by ‘sin’ but by tectonic plate movements, and tectonic plates, like everything else in the physical world, are supremely indifferent to human affairs and sadly indifferent to human suffering. Those of us who understand this reality are sometimes accused of being indifferent to that suffering ourselves. Of course the very opposite is the truth: we do not hide behind the notion that earthly suffering will be rewarded in a heavenly paradise, nor do we expect a heavenly reward for our generosity: the understanding that this is the only life any of us have makes the need to alleviate suffering even more urgent. The myth that it is only the religious who truly care is sustained largely by the fact that they tend to donate not as individuals, but through their churches. Non-believers, by contrast, give as individuals: we have no church through which to give collectively, no church to rack up statistics of competitive generosity. Non-Believers Giving Aid is not a church (that’s putting it mildly) but it does provide an easy conduit for the non-religious to help those in desperate need, whilst simultaneously giving the lie to the canard that you need God to be good."

    What part of that pronouncement is actually to do with Haiti? Answer: sweet FA. If you can point me to a section of that web page that writes in glorious detail about the scale of the disaster in Haiti, I'd love to see it.

    I don't like it when an organisation uses charity to further its own aims, something that could be aimed at many religions in the West. The web page doesn't feel any different from that, personal opinion and conjecture tacked onto a plea for donations.

    Totally agree on helping people first. Already done that. The blog is really interesting. It's a good read so thanks for putting it up.

  3. You know, I will admit that I've felt a bit tired and frustrated, watching various groups promoting their causes through this crisis. Scientologists sending e-meters, Christians sending solar-powered bibles, and even to some extent NBGA.

    It's great that people want to help in their own way (useful or not is another story), but the gamesmanship does bug me. So I see what you're saying.

    What I hope, though, is that the RDF will keep up the charitable aid, post-Haiti. I'll make the RDF my charity of choice if they stick with it.

  4. Gamesmanship is a perfect title for that which annoys me about charity. Providing charity often is an excellent way of publicising your own company, band, or agenda. One only has to look at record sales when a band plays at something like Live 8.

    You know, I will admit that I've felt a bit tired and frustrated, watching various groups promoting their causes through this crisis. Scientologists sending e-meters, Christians sending solar-powered bibles, and even to some extent NBGA.

    Have a gander at this article:

    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/elisabeth_cornwell/2010/01/helping_haiti_because_it_makes_us_feel_good.html

    The third paragraph starts the digs at those who believe in religion. If that piece had been written by a Republican and the line 'religious apologists' replaced by 'Democrat apologists', then there would be condemnation of the Republican writer for bringing political lines into the disaster in Haiti.

    I have no problem with the level of charity displayed.

Comments are closed.

© 2017 Good Reason

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑