Reason #3,221 for opposing faith-based charity

Because their priorities are screwed up.

Benedict—on the second day of a visit to his native
Bavaria—said that spreading the word of Jesus Christ
was more important than all the emergency and development
aid that rich churches like those in Germany gave to poor

Don’t even get me started on his complaints that science is scaring away the gullible, tithing rubes.

(via Hank Fox)


  1. JB says

    Of course, scientists want to get their share of tax money to fund all their projects.

    Sounds like you are afraid the government tittly might dry up a little.

  2. says

    Damn those scientists with their constant sucking at the government teat and never, ever giving anything back! Thank Jesus the Catholic Church was able to step in and use its supernatural powers to give us computers and the WWW and antibiotics and increased yields from fish farms etc, etc….

  3. zwa says

    increased yields from fish farms

    Im sure i read somethting about loaves and fishes in the vatians journal of record.

  4. Pygmy Loris says

    You must save the souls first! Let the bodies of the people rot and fall around you, but they’ll get their eternal life if you focus on converting them at death’s door!

    Man, Benedict just wants more Catholics. It doesn’t matter if they starve, just that they tithe!

  5. Pygmy Loris says

    I jsut finished reading that article and Benedict talks about the developing world where most Catholics live.

    At the morning Mass, Benedict said Western societies had become “hard of hearing” about God, saying: “There are too many other frequencies in our ears. What is said about God strikes us as pre- scientific, no longer suited for our age.”

    He contrasted this to a faith he still found in developing countries, where 70 percent of the world’s Catholics now live.

    Maybe people in developing countries lack a sophisticated education system whereby children are exposed to such things as rational thinking and science at an early age. That sort of thing tends to discourage blind acceptance of the Church’s teachings (such as the use of birth control).

  6. says

    Pretty much all non-political/non-media tithing in the US, at any rate, is nowhere near as efficaceous as campaign contributions or owning a TV/radio network.

    Look at the joint Gates-Buffett $32 or $36 billion that they’re spending on their charity group. A much easier and cheaper way to achieve their goals would be to infuse $2 billion into the Democratic party, so they could then take over and enact the necessary legislation.

    $2 billion would not only buy the votes of every sitting Democratic congresscritter, the amount left over would suffice to allow the DNC to compete on a nearly-level playing field with the Republicans. Of course, the Republicans still control the lion’s share of the national media, so then Gates and Buffett would have to spend another $10 billion buying up a broadcast network to compete That still saves them at least $20 billion over their current plan.

  7. George says

    “There are too many other frequencies in our ears. What is said about God strikes us as pre- scientific, no longer suited for our age.”

    He sounds a little conflicted. Wouldn’t it be great if the Pope saw the light and became an atheist?

  8. says

    Here’s what Emperor Palpati… eerr, I’m sorry, Pope Benedict [Roman Numerals] said in that same story:

    He said that faith must come first, before progress can be made in social problems, such as the AIDS epidemic in Africa. “Hearts must be converted if progress is to be made on social issues and reconciliation is to begin, and if — for example, AIDS is to be combated by realistically facing its deeper causes.”

    Yes, it seems God’s Nazi Mouthpiece knows something about the structure of the virus that scientists don’t. At least, I hope that’s what that is, because if that isn’t what’s going on here, the only way I can interpret that is that the Pope is saying that, perhaps, we shouldn’t be distributing condoms and medications in Africa.

    And that makes him a brutal monster.

  9. BlueIndependent says

    Mmmm yes, darn the scientists for coming up with all kinds of cures and vaccines…something churches are patently incapable of providing for society. Darn the scientists and all the technology they create to save lives, protect this country and others, and to expand capitalism, amongst many other things that are generally considered good for mankind.

    On the other hand, we, historically speaking, have the church to thank for the slowing and/or general muddying of scientific understanding under the guise of supporting some vaccuous set of morals that come from individual hubris more than a sincere attempt to protect individuals and ethics. I thank the church for the following: opposing the world-is-round goofiness, for opposing rock-n-roll, for opposing the creation of cures for diseases, for limiting our understanding of the universe…eh, I could go on, but why? The church’s track record speaks for itself, I’d say.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this and other countries have historically been successful due to the science they developed and their technology. You don’t see people revering Greece, Egypt or Rome because of the god(s) they worshipped. I feel plenty safe in saying the same will be said of this country at some point in the future.

  10. Carlie says

    “When we bring people only knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools, we bring them too little,” he said,

    Yeah. What has science ever done for anybody?

    [resisting…People’s Front of Judea quote….}

  11. Michael Kremer says

    At the very least you could judge the Pope on the basis of the entire text of what he said. This can be found here:

    He does not by any means say that charitable works should not be undertaken. (The entire second half of his first encylical, “Deus Caritas Est,” is concerned with the importance of charitable works. In the homily he emphasizes the charitable works undertaken by the Catholic Churchin Germany. And if you just open your eyes and see, you’ll find that Catholic Charities is a major provider of services in this country — and those who work with the poor would be hard pressed if those services were to disappear overnight. But he thinks that these works are incomplete unless the Church also undertakes evangelization. He says that charitable works need to be informed by the Gospel. What else do you expect the Pope to say?

  12. Michael Kremer says

    And PZ, if you really oppose faith-based charity, you will find a large gap in what there is of service to the poor in this country and even in Europe, let alone in the third world.

    Even if my charity were to be processed entirely through secular agencies, it would be faith-based. Do you want to reject my assistance to those in need?

  13. Steve LaBonne says

    Nobody wante to reejct your contributions. But I for one will not give money that I intend as charity to organizations that have ulterior motives, whether they be religious, political, or whatever, beyond actually helping the recipients.

  14. Michael Kremer says

    Steve, you could let PZ speak for himself.

    PZ’s post is titled “Reason #3,221 for opposing faith-based charity” after all. He should just be aware of what he’s proposing the poor do without.

  15. George says

    “He says that charitable works need to be informed by the Gospel. What else do you expect the Pope to say?”

    I made a mistake! God does not exist! FUCK, AM I AN IDIOT!!!!!!

  16. says

    I don’t think one should throw out the baby with the bath water. I am not a Christian, but I think there are many people who are Christian who get the message of Jesus to be charitable and help people out in cases of emergencies and such. (There are many atheists who do this as well.)

    I heard a bit of this story on NPR this weekend, and it demonstrated to me that the Pope is out of touch.

  17. Samnell says

    He’s the Pope. For him to suggest anything else would be pretty inconceiveable. One must recall that this isn’t just some random man in high drag who hears voices and really wants to operate vaginas on a part-time basis despite professional obligations not to. He’s all of that to the degree that a bunch of other people who are disturbingly much more than average at being all that, even for religionists, thought he should be the one leading them.

    With a bar set that high, it’s a wonder he didn’t haul an infidel out on stage and begin torturing said infidel in front of the audience.

  18. Stogoe says

    Compassion and kindness aren’t the baby in the bathwater, joe. They’re more like the magnet stuck to the bathtub. We can throw out the water (religion) and keep the good, because they’re not connected to the water (religion) in any way.

    Unfortunately, the hate and willful ignorance aren’t really connected to christianity, either. They, too are magnets stuck to the tub. Throwing out the water (religion) won’t rid us of them, either, but it will make them easier to see and deal with.

  19. bernarda says

    “Unfortunately, the hate and willful ignorance aren’t really connected to christianity, either.”

    Hate and ignorance are the basis of xianity. They are the stock in trade of xianity.

    Look up St. Augustine and then the history of the Inquisition and the Catholic conquest of America, to name but a couple of events. I can give you dozens, maybe hundreds if I want to get into the details.

  20. Timcol says

    Here’s a good way the Catholic church can be more charitable — sell off some of the booty in the Vatican Museum that they have stolen and pilfered over the years. Probably the gold leaf off one gallery’s ceiling could feed all of the Sudan for a couple of years or more.

  21. goddogtired says

    I think it’s nice that they’ve brought in a silly reactionary clown as Pope. JP2 had a lot of gravity, which impressed a lot of otherwise sensible people, plus he got shot, etc.
    This guy might as well make it a practice to stumble whenever cameras are present: he’s the Jerry Ford of Catholicism.

    Wait just a bit longer and he’ll come up with a Catholic version of the WIN button.

  22. says

    It’s not charity but pseudo-charity. With one hand these groups give food for prayer, and with the other they make sure large numbers of people remain poor so that they’ll have no choice but to accept the food-for-prayer deal.

  23. says

    The Pope is right. Christianity has a proven track record of civilizing savages, while emergency and development aid from rich to poor nations has largely been an expensive failure, often making things worse. At most one could criticize Pope Benedict for optimistically thinking Chrisitianity won’t also fail.

  24. says

    As a particularly wise Inu once pointed out, it is better on many Christian sects own terms not to evangelize ever since the risk of some hearing the gospel and not accepting Jebus are too high. Whereas if they do not hear the gospel, they are at least consigned to Limbo or something.

  25. homer says

    Does anyone know of an explicitly atheist or humanist charity to support the poor – not just secular? I am torn by giving money to religious charities that I know do in fact help poor people, but also pollute their minds with BS. But I am struck by my inability to actually find an atheist or humanist charity.

  26. George says

    The Pope is right. Christianity has a proven track record of civilizing savages.

    That’s nice, now we’re calling them “savages” again. What century are we living in?

  27. Steve LaBonne says

    That”civilizing savages” bit reminds me of Gandhi’s quip when asked by a rather dim reporter what he thought of “Western civilization”. He replied, “I think it would be a very good idea!”

  28. says

    Homer, I don’t think there is any. Secular charities, as a rule, are more about helping people than about beating their chests and screaming about their preferred ideology.

    The closest thing there is to an explicitly liberal charity is various organizations for birth control, like Planned Parenthood, that provide birth control in third-world countries and educate people about how to properly use it.

  29. Steve LaBonne says

    Homer, check out the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) as well. You might find that it’s humanist enough, certainly I think so.

  30. says

    I donate to ‘Save the Children’ which is secular, I checked.
    Its probably in the US too.
    Amnesty is always a good one.
    The Smith Family (in Australia) among other charity programs has a ‘Learning For Life’ program. Every month I give a certain amount to one disadvantaged child in school. They recieve the money twice a year to buy uniforms, books, excursions etc, so they can stay in school and keep up. I only know his first name and get updates every so often.
    I think its a wonderful idea. Even though my lad loves Jeezbus its still worth the cash.

  31. says

    Don’t even get me started. . .

    Whatever. You’ve already started. And you are going on, ad nauseam infinitum

    Not unlike your sycophantic echo chamber hordes. . .

  32. Jim in Chicago says

    The Pope is right. Christianity has a proven track record of civilizing savages.

    Shouldn’t that read, “has a proven track record for savaging civilizations”?

  33. Stogoe says

    bernarda, I think I misspoke. I’m not saying that religion isn’t based on hate and willful ignorance. I’m just saying that sweeping religion into irrelevance won’t automatically get rid of the innate intolerances of humanity.

    (as an aside note, that ‘christianity’ should have been changed to religion in general.)

  34. says

    So, I read the radiovaticana link, and it does seem true that he was speaking more to the Catholic Church of Germany being reluctant to evangelize, than to Germany as a whole. But anyway:

    “a glimpse of Jesus, of that God who became man. Though he was of Davidic, and thus royal, stock, he became a simple man”

    So, in the previous generation that royal stock was either a craftsman or the wife of a craftsman. Not exactly the first to “become a simple man”, eh?

    > Christianity has a proven track record of civilizing savages

    Say what?

  35. says


    Dear Pope Ratzinger,

    Yesterday I saw some starving people in Africa on TV. I want to help these poor people and I was wondering what would do the most good:

    1. Pay for solar cookers so contaminated water can be boiled to prevent disease and to save women and children spending hours collecting firewood.

    2. Pay for a well to be dug to provide access to safe water.

    3. Contribute to a micro-loan fund that makes small loans to women so they can start businesses and boost the economic development of their communities.

    4. Pay for medicine to save the lives of children.

    5. Pay for a crate full of bibles and religious instruction materials.

    Yours faithfully,


    Dear Confused,

    Of course your fifth option, sending a crate load of bibles and religious instructional material is the best way to help these people. For how does it benefit a woman to not have her children waste away from hunger and disease in her arms if she loses her soul?

    If the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ saw poor people starving he would take pity upon them and show them mercy by telling them about the glory of God and the eternal reward that awaits them in heaven. But he wouldn’t actually do anything to help them.

    Dear Pope Ratzinger,

    I believe that as Christians we have an obligation to end poverty, especially the hunger and sickness that exists in the developing world. I believe that if the Catholic church and other denominations worked together we could eliminate poverty from the world. What do you think of my idea?

    Yours truly,


    Dear Hopeful,

    The good Lord Jesus said that the poor will always be with us. By ending poverty you would be making Jesus into a liar, you sinful little man. Go to confession at once and we’ll have no more of this ending poverty talk. Do you know how hard it is to get people to believe religious dogma when they’re well fed and educated? Improving people’s lives just makes it more likely they will be eternally barred from paradise. What’s a little hunger and disease compared to eternal salvation?

    Dear Pope Ratzinger,

    Is it true that condoms contain microscopic holes that allow the HIV virus to pass straight through them and thus they provide no protection against AIDS?

    Yours sincerely,

    Sister Orgasma,

    Dear Sister Orgasma,

    Yes it is true that the HIV virus is smaller than tiny holes in condoms and so can pass straight through. You can prove this by attempting to fill a condom with water. It’s impossible as the tiny water molecules which are even smaller than HIV viruses instantly pour straight through the latex without stopping. Now some people claim to have actually tried this and state that water does not instantly pass through a condom. But I warn you, do not be led astray by science and reason. Blind faith is the key to heaven. Trust me on this.

  36. George Cauldron says

    Whatever. You’ve already started. And you are going on, ad nauseam infinitum
    Not unlike your sycophantic echo chamber hordes. . .

    Don’t get too upset, little man. Maybe some day people will visit your blog.

  37. RedMolly says

    Our family supports two secular charities: Plan International, which is a child sponsorship organization (it’s been great being able to discuss the lives of “our” kids with our two sons) and Doctors Without Borders/Medecins sans Frontieres. I have confidence that our donations are bringing help and hope to truly needy people in truly horrifying situations. (MSF is, I believe, one of the few relief organizations still working in Sudan under death-threat conditions.)