I get so weary of hearing that unless someone believes in a being who will condemn them to Hell if they don’t behave, they can’t possibly be a good person. It seems to never end, this debate over who is more moral—Christians or those who don’t believe in God.
But you know, if atheists and Christians are going to brawl, at least they should brawl over something that actually makes the world a little bit better of a place. Which is why I get a kick out of the fact that some smart and worthy non-profits have been able to capitalize lately on this tendency of folks to take sides.
Last month, the folks at Reddit social networking site started a fight over who could raise more money for their causes, the atheists or the Christians, with an apparently late-in-the-game representation by the site’s Muslim community. According to Religion News Service:
It all started Dec. 8 when Margaret Crymes, a 26-year-old member of Reddit’s Christian group from Fullerton, Calif., suggested to the community that it raise money for the Christian relief group World Vision.
“If every member of r/Christianity donates just $4.45, we can build a health clinic in an impoverished area that desperately needs one,” she wrote.
Within hours, a member of Reddit’s Atheism page posted a response: “If r/Christianity builds a hospital in the Third world, we are going to build 10! Let the X-mas Wars and the overall battle for goodness in the world begin!”
On Dec. 9, a member of the atheist group set up a fundraising page for the group Doctors Without Borders on the charitable donation site FirstGiving.com. Crymes, after encouraging members of the Christian group to donate to the atheists’ campaign, created her own FirstGiving page to support World Vision, which in turn gained support from Reddit’s atheist members.
Another non-profit to wade into the battle between the do-gooders is Kiva, a capitalist organization that makes micro-loans to people trying to start businesses both around the world and within the U.S. For those unfamiliar with Kiva, here’s how it works. Two of the top-giving teams are Team Atheist and Kiva Christian. Both have been in existence since August 2008. But The Friendly Atheist reported last week that Team Atheist members have reached a $3 million milestone recently. And the number is growing. I checked this morning and it was up to $3.3 million now with almost 14,000 members. Meanwhile, Kiva Christian is up to almost $2 million in loans with 6,500 members.
Team Atheist, which comprises atheists, agnostics, skeptics, freethinkers, secular humanists and the general non-religious, has the motto, “We loan because we care about the suffering of human beings.”
Kiva Christians’ motto is “We loan because pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (Jam. 1:27)”
While I have not joined a team, the contest motivated me to sign up for Kiva. My modest donation of $25 went to a Cambodian woman to fund a portion of the $1,000 worth of equipment she needs to start her bakery. Once her loan is repaid, I will be able to recycle my $25 to help fund another project for another individual. And on it goes.
I’m sure the recipients of these micro-loans don’t really care all that much about lenders’ motivations.