Christian charity its own campaign against atheism

Q. Atheist actor and writer Ricky Gervais is working on a new show, Afterlife , which features “an atheist who … Continued

Q. Atheist actor and writer Ricky Gervais is working on a new show,
Afterlife
, which features “an atheist who dies and goes to heaven.” If Gervais hopes to bring cultural acceptance of non-belief to mainstream America, he faces an uphill battle. Polls show that many Americans distrust atheists and nearly half say they would not vote for one. Should it matter whether or not a politician believes in God? As mainstream acceptance of other minority groups grows, will atheists still lag behind?

A. The problem atheists have is the atheist groups, which I call the activist atheist organizations. When Americans hear about atheists, usually it is because of a lawsuit regarding the Pledge, the National Motto, or the National Day of Prayer. If it is not a lawsuit, it is an in your face pro-atheism campaign or statements from atheists that amount to little more than mocking religious people. Richard Dawkins, a famous biologist and atheist, is an honorary officer of a group that sells Bible Warning Labels to raise funds so it can file lawsuits (On Faith columnist Susan Jacoby, and activist Mike Newdow are also among the honorary members). These atheist activists dominate the landscape and make life tougher for people who do not believe in God and chose not to associate with the angry atheists who are unrelenting in their attack on the faithful and America’s Judeo-Christian heritage.

With people like Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens as two of the most well-known atheists in the Western world, it is easy to conclude that atheists have a serious disdain for all religious people (the majority of the world) rather than a mere difference in belief, think they are serious intellectuals and smarter than “childish” religious people because they reject a power higher than themselves, and spend an enormous amount of time researching, writing, and degrading a God they do not believe in. Looking in from the outside, it seems atheists are working overtime to justify their personal beliefs to a highly skeptical audience.

This is not the best public relations campaign.

Yet, what truly distinguishes atheists from religious people has to do with charitable work. Sure, plenty of atheists donate time and money to charities and there are probably many working at big charitable organizations. But, atheists do not organize together to build hospitals and schools in the developing world. There is no atheist equivalent of Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Blessing or Catholic Charities and we do not see atheist organizations providing relief when disaster strikes.

Why are atheists not doing this work? It has nothing to do with a lack of available resources. There are two main reasons and both greatly hamper an aspiring atheist politician. First, atheists do not have a God-given responsibility to help those in need. Religious people are required to do charity. The basic human rights that the free world has adopted as universal stem from Scripture.

The “Greatest Commandment”:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Second, atheists believe that humans are animals rather than specifically created by God to have dominion over the earth. If you truly believe there is no God and accept the evolutionary theory, mankind descend meaninglessly from the same random molecules as plants. Why spend resources on human-animals who will not survive natural selection without assistance when they are no more important than a tree or a chicken?

Organized atheism only exists to promote a single belief. Religious organizations promote a single belief and an important worldview including the duty to help the poor and persecuted even if they do not share our religious belief or happen to be atheists themselves.

Who would you rather vote for?


Read more panel views on the mainstreaming of atheism:

Rabbi David Wolpe: Vote for values, not beliefs

Herb Silverman: Imagine atheist politicians

Hemant Mehta: Time for atheists to ‘come out’

About

Jordan Sekulow and Matthew Clark Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Matthew Clark is an attorney at the ACLJ. Follow them on Twitter: @JordanSekulow and @_MatthewClark.
  • writerpatrick

    This is a fairly disrespectful post, based mostly on false assumptions that I can only assume stem from a lack of understanding. The lawsuits to which you refer do not attempt to litigate belief (as those proposing the practices against which the lawsuits are filed do); Instead, they seek to maintain the founding principle of Separation of Church and State.
    Atheist organizations, by and large, are not representative of Atheists. Indeed many Atheists do not wish to congregate in celebration of a lack of belief. It makes no sense.
    As for Dawkins, Hitchens and company, I think you need to consider the context. Maybe it’s too “in your face” for your liking but please understand that we atheists have been slammed with your prosthelytizing for generations. I would also argue that neither Dawkins nor Hitchens are trying to convert believers into atheists. They are simply making their case and encouraging others who feel the same way to stand up and say it.
    Atheists may not have a charity, but that’s a ridiculous point. Atheists volunteer and do charitable work just as believers do. Indeed, following your logic, I would submit that our charitable work is more significant as we are not “required to” as you concede you are.
    Your assertion that religious organizations promote “an important worldview including the duty to help the poor and persecuted even if they do not share our religious belief or happen to be atheists themselves.” is simply false. It is at least a broad generalization which conveniently omits profound exceptions (See Pat Robertson, See Rick Warren, See countless others)
    “Why spend resources on human-animals who will not survive natural selection without assistance when they are no more important than a tree or a chicken?”
    The answer is in the question. Because we are humans is the precise reason. The spending of said resources (as well as the harvesting, creation or discovery etc) is a PART of natural selection.
    I concede that I do not believe that we are more

  • Sajanas

    I’m grateful for the good work that religious people do, but they need to realize that we don’t just see the good things that come out of their charity work, we see organizations using charities to force their views on others, to take prestige from charity with minimal contributions, or discriminate against their own employees or the people they serve. And that’s not even considering how little of the money a person contributes to church is actually used for ‘charity’.

    Also, Dawkins has been pretty heavily promoting secular charities in the last few years, especially after the Tsunamis and earthquakes in the last decade. They’re small, but its a start. And there are plenty of other strictly secular charities that do tremendous good, without any of that creeping evangelism.

  • gladerunner

    Most atheists are not ‘organized’ for the same reason that ‘people who don’t dance’ are not organized. Those angry atheists you speak of that are somewhat organized are so precisely to keep the heavy hand of Big Religion from taking over the country, so of course they’re going to seem adversarial.
    “First, atheists do not have a God-given responsibility to help those in need. Religious people are required to do charity.”
    I feel a personal responsibility for my fellow man because its a social model that works. True I am not ‘required’ to be charitable, I’m charitable because I want to be. If it were ‘required’ it really wouldn’t be charity anyhow, it would be taxation.

    “Why spend resources on human-animals who will not survive natural selection without assistance when they are no more important than a tree or a chicken?”
    Define ‘important’. We humans share this planet with all other life forms. We are neither the strongest or best suited inhabitants, just the only ones that have mastered language and thus figured out how to work together to mitigate disease and starvation, and how to hold most of our predators at bay.
    Nothing ‘survives’ natural selection. Everything changes. Those that can hold on the longest are considered ‘biologically successful’ not ‘important’.
    “But, atheists do not organize together to build hospitals and schools in the developing world”
    Sure they do, they just don’t put up banners proclaiming their atheism while doing so, nor do they proselytize the unfortunate victims. Atheists individually or as groups are not providing aide because they are ‘atheists’ they do it out of simple humanitarian charity. It is much more likely though that you would see a ‘secular’ charity group, those that do not base that charity on a sect, cult, or denomination, but as a group dedicated to the cause itself, not the religion.
    Christians neither invented, perfected nor own the franchise on charitable works, organized or otherwise. There are many non-christian cultu

  • ezrasalias-socialize

    What a lot of twaddle from an extreme right-wing Christian. I listen to Sekulow on my local radio station. He is so certain about his beliefs that there is no room for negotiation or tolerance for an opposing opinion. It is no wonder atheists ridicule people like him. Sorry JS, but evolution is a fact no matter how hard it is for you to swallow. Creationism cannot be tested as a science.

    There are a growing group of Humanists who work along side interfaith groups to do good things. If it is estimated that atheists are 2% of the population, then they seem to be doing very well, and making a positive impact on society. Plus, they are holding the conservative Christian’s feet to the fire (metaphorically) unlike the literal way that the Christian authorities would to the nonbeliever historically. Get over yourself.

  • ezrasalias-socialize

    One more thing. There is far more proof for the origin of species i.e. Evolution than there is for a messiah, born of a virgin and risen from the dead. Wipe your eyes JS, you’re not seeing clearly.

  • Bippy

    Well, I can see where you’re coming from, but you had years to treat atheists fairly before Dawkins came along, and you never did. I don’t know why you would find the development of new atheism so surprising. But even so, what does Dawkins really do that’s so wrong?

    Talk about in-you-face, what about having to carry around a little green note in your pocket to remind you that you are a second-class citizen because you don’t believe in a god, the atheists do. Perhaps if religious people did something to right such injustices, people like Dawkins would be more accommodating.

  • petitecie

    It is almost unbelievable that anyone could have such ignorant ideas about people just because they do not believe in god in 2011. Just so thoroughly brainwashed that he can’t see the world in any other way except through his religiously brainwashed lens. He could really use a good dose of reality.

  • writerpatrick

    I wonder if you read my comment before posting yours. The time posted would certainly make it possible. Did you? We make a lot of the same points, in fact, many of yours seem to come directly from my argument. I hope this isn’t the case.

  • stiaa04

    “Why are atheists not doing this work?”

    They are, not as much yet maybe but they are.

    The reason it’s not much yet has nothing to do with worldview and everything to do with the TIME that we’d had to organize. Atheism hasn’t had centuries yet, in earlier times the few atheists that existed were mostly a minority of the very very few educated people. Hence no organized atheism.

    Besides if an atheist looks for ideas regarding ethics and morality humanist ethics imply charity. Not that one should need a ‘moral framework’ to instinctively want to help people.

    Non-activist atheists donate to religious efforts because they are already organized. I’d bet you a whole lot of the religious organizations helping haiti got donations from the nations +-10% atheists.

    Why would atheists care?

    Humans are born with empathy and altruism(apart from psycopaths I think).(in addition to natural egoism of course)

    If you observe carefully you’ll see that dogs, dolphins, and many other animals also have altruistic or empathic behaviour, in addition to from their self centred behavior. Why? Well seems to me it’s the pack mammals that have it. Probably good for the pack. Regardless of reason it’s clearly there as we both know.

    Why would humans not be a more important animal than other animals even though we see ourselves as an animal? To a dolphin other dolphins are more important I’d bet.

  • bamagirl1944

    The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 14:1

  • antijingoist

    Wow. Did you do any research before you wrote this? Seriously, in the area I am, Atheists have: started a homeless shelter, fought the city and risked jail time to keep that homeless shelter open, fought the city and risked jail time to feed the homeless, and allow them to live on land an individual gave to them, painted a church after it was vandalized, etc. etc. etc.
    The atheists where I live really practice the verse you quoted, “love your neighbor as yourself.” you on the other hand, do not seem to think that part is important. Unless you somehow justify using bombs and killing people to achieve your twisted version of a “christian” society.

  • antijingoist

    “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” – James 1:22-25

  • Skorea77

    What would you do if the city wanted to shut down a homeless shelter that was set up so that people less fortunate than you would be able to have a place to eat and sleep on 100 coldest nights of the year in one of the coldest states in the US? Would you let them shut it down? The ATHEISTS I know held vigils, cooked food, raised funds, supplies and risked imprisonment, while the “Christians” in the area said “but it’s the law. They need to shut it down because they don’t have a permit.” For the good of their fellow man, they didn’t have TIME to get a permit or people would have died from the negative temperatures! WHEN WILL PEOPLE REALIZE, that there are times you DO need to go against the grain in order to do what Jesus Christ wanted? When will Christians get the guts to do God’s Will?

    Matthew 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

    36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

    38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

    39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

  • Sajanas

    And I’d also suggest that there are plenty of completely secular charities that exist already that have both religious and non-religious members. Direct atheist charities haven’t really been needed when you can contribute to the UNICEF, or the like.

  • Sajanas

    Its funny, how many times I head King David wrote the Psalms, and then I find out later that it was written centuries and centuries later.

    “The fool believes the word of a book forged in the name of someone way more famous.” – Me

  • antijingoist

    he cant do research. LOL. He even quotes Bible verses he refuses to follow.

  • gladerunner

    I did not see your post before I posted this. I’d started on mine earlier and drifted away a few times before I finally finished and hit the button. That we share some of the same sentiments is not astonishing, as I’ve met several people who seem to be on the same wavelength at times. As for your implication of plagiarism, no, there was none. We just apparently think alike on some things.
    Two TV stations reporting on a traffic accident using similar analogies would not necessarily indicate plagiarism either, just two similarly experienced people describing the same wreck.

  • JordanSekulow

    as usual, missing the point of my post in answering question about why Americans have negative attitude about atheists = when we hear about atheists in the news, it is almost entirely activism related to a single issue. Conversely, take the Christian faith. There are conservative and liberal Christian organizations, missions-based only organizations, relief organizatios, Catholic and Protestant (within Protestant, lots of diversit), and the historically black churches.

    Because of that diversity, it is easy for people to see the Christian faith in many different lights.

  • Secular1

    Aah Mr. Skelow, the first two paragraphs of yours are nothing but tirades against Athiests who refuse to keep quiet sit down listen to the drivel and hate your ilk belows out day in and day out. As far as we are concerned, the one thing that distinguishes us from your ilk (especially the ones that wear it on your sleeves) is you try to thrust your delusional dogma down everyone’s throats, including ours. Where as we not only resist that but we challenge your delusional diatribes. That is what distinguishes us fro you & your ilk..

    Then you go onto say, “Second, atheists believe that humans are animals…”. That is not a belief, it is a fact with 4 billion year historical evidence supporting the fact.

    Then you claim “…rather than specifically created by God to have dominion over the earth.” This is what I call delusional dogmas, with absolute not an iota of evidence. Oh that’s right you believe so it must be true. So I believe you were born with your brains in your butt, so it must that your brains are in your butt. Doesn’t the logic work for you in this case?

    The you go on, ” If you truly believe there is no God and accept the evolutionary theory, mankind descend meaninglessly from the same random molecules as plants. Why spend resources on human-animals who will not survive natural selection without assistance when they are no more important than a tree or a chicken?” Because sherlock, it is part of the natural selection that propels us (the species as a whole, ny teh fact each individual organism wants survive) to survive.

    Then you comment, “Organized atheism only exists to promote a single belief. Religious organizations promote a single belief and an important worldview including the duty to help the poor and persecuted even if they do not share our religious belief or happen to be atheists themselves.” Get it through your thick skull that we have no beliefs. Also get it through your thick head, that it is not a single person’s world view or for that matt

  • david6

    Are you Christian? Really? Your post here is so full of hate and self-justification that it’s hard to believe you ever read anything attributed to Jesus.

    Anyone who thinks that doing a little charitable work offsets the evil of massive cuts in benefits for the poor, the sick and the elderly is confused. Anyone who selectively and misleadingly characterizes atheism is showing us that he has no use for ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you represent religion, then the world would be better off without it.

  • afpre42

    “Second, atheists believe that humans are animals rather than specifically created by God to have dominion over the earth. If you truly believe there is no God and accept the evolutionary theory, mankind descend meaninglessly from the same random molecules as plants. Why spend resources on human-animals who will not survive natural selection without assistance when they are no more important than a tree or a chicken?”

    I hardly think these are the only two possibilities. I fail to see why having a divine creator is necessary for human life to have a purpose. One could argue atheists value human life more because this life is the only one we have. Likewise they would arguably be more willing to take the view that humans are the world’s _stewards_ rather than ‘having dominion over the earth’ since again this is the only world we have. Just because I’m not planning to go to heaven doesn’t mean I want to watch the world go to hell.

    There may not be many specifically atheist organizations out there doing good deeds, but there are certainly organizations which are not of a religious nature and they certainly do have atheists as members. Atheists by nature are skeptical of organized religion and by and large would not join some sort of non-believer cult just to facilitate having themselves labeled by religious types.

  • david6

    It is remarkable that Sekulow implies that humans are so valueless that the only reason he will do anything for them is because God will reward him for doing something, not because he has any ability to show compassion and concern for his fellow humans.

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