The holiday season turns our thoughts to giving to causes we support. We are inundated with solicitations from charities, many of which rely on holiday donations as much as retail stores rely on holiday purchases for much of their yearly assets. Skeptics, atheists, and other non-believers, especially those who have recently changed their world view from religious to non-religious, may suddenly find themselves in a quandary. They have always donated to the religious charity of their choice, many times associated with the particular sect to which they adhered, but now they are reluctant to continue to do so, but are not aware of secular alternatives. Beyond this, they may not have given thought to how one evaluates a charity in terms of how effecient it is in delivering services to its constituents. This issue is often, as it should be, on the minds of those that have made the choice to value critical thinking over faith and trust in the institutions to which they owe allegiance. Over the next few articles, we will look at the issues surrounding charitable contributions in a secular context.
We will first discuss organizations that promote non-religious world views. These are non-profits primarily concerned with education and the promotion of scientific skepticism, critical thinking, secular humanism, and atheism. The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason , the American Humanist Association, Sam Harris’s Project Reason, the Secular Student Alliance, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the James Randi Educational Foundation are examples of these. Some of these organizations have components that target alleviating poverty, promoting social justice, or providing relief during natural disasters. Examples of these are the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s Non-Believers Giving Aid, the American Humanist Association’s Humanist Charities, the community aid projects of the various campus chapters of the Secular Student Alliance, and the Legal Fund of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which litigates cases of church/state separation violations throughout the United States. These are just a few of the many choices the non-believer has to promote the non-religious world view or alleviate suffering without supporting faith-based charities.
In the next article, we will discuss the problems of faith-based charities and look at examples of secular charities that do a lot better job in providing services to their consituents.