Charities for the Godless

Yesterday, I got a request to publicize a drive to promote charitable giving by atheists; then today I’m pointed to a list of atheist charities. Perfect! Bring these two together, and we’ve got synergy: we should all be doing what we can to help the needy, and now we have an excellent list of good destinations for your giving.


  1. negentropyeater says

    “I am considering charities that do not promote a specific religion to be an atheist charity.”

    no, it is a secular charity. Why not use the correct word.

    Is the American red cross an atheist charity ?

  2. inkadu says

    Yeah, if it’s just secular, it’s not atheist.

    If we really want to counter religious charities, we need to make people listen to our sermons before we feed them, grab them by the elbow at the trough and tell them, “nobody loves you,” as well as making sure nobody works for our organization who isn’t a non-believer.

    Also, we should run day-care centers, free from government regulation, in our a-churches, which don’t pay property taxes and are staffed by people no subject to labor laws.

    I have a friends who are hard-up for quality day-care. They’re not broke, but there’s not that much good care out there. Turns out the best place is run by the Catholic church, and first preference goes to church members, followed by catholics, followed by Christians. Sucks. At least the catholic hospitals don’t work that way.

  3. Copernic says

    Remember that some of these are available through United Way and can be gifted right out of your paycheck.

    I give to a cancer research charity, NCSE, and my local science center. Best of all, my employer matches my gifts 100%.

    Happy Holidays.

  4. Sastra, OM says

    I looked at the links — excellent secular causes. Thanks.

    Every now and then, though, someone tries to start up an “atheist charity” which gives money to relieve suffering and poverty in the specific name of atheism. “We’re helping world hunger, and we’re all atheists.” That sort of thing. I’m a bit divided on that concept.

    On the one hand, I agree with Kris Verburgh, it helps show that atheists are moral, caring, and compassionate people also. It’s something we can point to when people ask whether atheists can do good, or have done good. You don’t need to love God to love others.

    But, on the other hand, the idea of tying acts of charity to belief or lack of belief in God seems both manipulative, and a bit misleading. I don’t find it particularly admirable when religious people give to the needy mostly in order to promote an agenda, gain credit, or make a point — as if helping other people wasn’t worthwhile for its own sake. It would feel a bit hypocritical doing the same thing, I think.

    They sneer and demand “Where are all the atheist charities? Not the secular ones which anyone can give to or join like Red Cross — I mean the ones run by explicit atheists — just like Christians run Christian Charities?” So some want to jump in and play that game.

    The other problem is that ‘atheist charities’ seems to subtly shift the focus towards atheism as some sort of movement which people ought to join in order to Be Better People. While you could probably make a case for Humanism doing this, technically speaking the only relevant reason to be an atheist is that you’ve rationally considered the matter and don’t think God exists. That’s why we’re atheists. Not “so we can help others.”

    Now from what I’ve seen atheists usually get this last point. I’m not saying we don’t want to help others, or that because we’re atheists it’s not important. It’s not important to the fact of atheism, though. Theists tend to confuse truth claims with pragmatic ones. “That church is so nice; they must have the truth.”

    I once asked a group of spiritual friends whether they would change their religious views if they really thought that some other religion would make them a better person. They all seemed to think that well, yes — of course.

    I find that line of reasoning problematic. Which makes for some tension in the whole issue on Coming Out and being accepted as good citizens by a suspicious public. See us give. I don’t know…

  5. says


    I give–when I can–because I like it, because I agree with the cause. One of the things we do in my family is make donations in each other’s name during the holidays. I want secular (at the least) or even atheist charities. I don’t want my money doing “god work.” I want to make sure it’s doing aid work and not proselytiziation. I don’t think that’s so wrong.

    Additionally, as atheists, we’re despised. Not just disliked, despised. Why not publicize who we are? i’m not giving because I’m an atheist, but I’m an atheist giving and because of the political climate, the atheist part does matter.

  6. inkadu says

    I agree with you Sastra. An “atheist” charity strikes me as a little weird.

    Honestly, I think the reason is that so many charities are religious is because churches wanted to keep their donations inside the church and employ church members. Let’s not forget that many charities pay their employees, sometimes a lot of employees, and some of those employees get a lot of money. If you look at it that way, that charities remain “religious” is as much about controlling and benefitting from an institution as it is about helping out.

    I mean, what does religion have to do with medical care in this day and age? Why don’t churches divest themselves of running hospitals? They charge just as much money as secular hospitals….

  7. says

    “Good idea. Atheists donating money shows that morality is an evolutionary given instinct, not something that could only exist because of a god ;-)”

    If you donate to charities to prove morality is “an evolutionary given instinct,” you’re not a very moral person, sorry to say.

  8. Copernic says

    “”Good idea. Atheists donating money shows that morality is an evolutionary given instinct, not something that could only exist because of a god ;-)”

    If you donate to charities to prove morality is “an evolutionary given instinct,” you’re not a very moral person, sorry to say.”

    I don’t think that is what you think it says.
    Perhaps it is more accurate to word it this way:

    Morality is an evolutionary given instinct, not something that could only exist because of a god. This is supported by the fact that even atheists donate money.

  9. B says

    “I am considering charities that do not promote a specific religion to be an atheist charity.”

    no, it is a secular charity. Why not use the correct word.

    I took this to mean that an atheist could feel good about donating to such a charity without worrying that part of their donation would be wasted on religiously-motivated things.

  10. says

    I’ve been looking for a secular agency that will let me sponsor a child in a developing country, but all the ones I can find are religious. Does anyone know of such a charity? I’ve had a couple of friends give up on this quest and just hand over their monthly payment to a Christian group, but I do not want to do that…

    Also, I was surprised not to see Amnesty International on that list. I’m a long-time member and am not aware of any religious basis to the organisation. I’d probably continue to donate to them anyway, they do good work.

  11. says

    If folks are interested, here are the two donations I’m linking to today. The first is a local campaign (actually involving our Fox TV station) to collect toys for children living in domestic violence shelters. The other is for the domestic violence program I used to work for in Mankato, MN>

  12. Reginald Selkirk says

    The U.S. Conference of Bishops has complicated my weekend plans by giving a rave review to The Golden Compass:

    Writing for the Catholic News Service (, critics Harry Forbes and John Mulderig call the movie “lavish, well-acted and fast-paced.”

    Do I really want to see this film if a group of Catholic bishops want me to?

  13. says has child sponsorship, and as far as I am aware they are not religious.

    Thank you for that! I’m going to take a deeper look. One of the things I love about threads like this, is even though the discussion of “should we be giving as atheists” can get old and stale, I always get new ideas for places to give, to link to, etc.

  14. says

    Another vote here against “atheist” charities. The point of charities is to provide services and help people. Making their mission statements and rhetoric more sectarian is always a bad thing, not a good thing. It’s bad when religious charities spend money shilling their beliefs along with aid, and it isn’t something to emulate.

    As far as I’m concerned, calling a secular charity an atheist charity is just fine, though still kind of pointless. Atheism isn’t a credo, it’s a category.

  15. says

    Even though I compiled the list (and admittedly plagarized most of it from internet infidels) and I am the one who names the post “Atheist Charities”, I too agree that a charities that “does good things”, you know like help the starving or whatever, is a weird concept. One I would not be comfortable. It would give religiots more fodder for the accusations about atheism being a religion (the church of atheism doesnt help either).

    However I named the post that way to point out something specific: You dont need god or religion to have a charity or to be charitable. There is nothing that any god offers that is relevant to the goal of the charity. In fact, I would suggest that the spread of a religion in a charity should count against its efficiency rating as time and money is spent on unnecessary things.

    I intended to ruffle some feathers with that title. Obviously calling it “secular charities” is more accurate (and later in the post I did do this).

  16. Zetetic says

    Semi offtopic…The Daily Buzz, a nationally syndicated morning “news” show, has a poll up about whether or not US morality is religion-based. Go here to vote, scroll to bottom right:

  17. BrightonRocks says

    Like some of the commenters above I’m not that keen on the idea of an ‘atheist’ charity. It just seems to add grist to the mill of those religious types who spout the fallacy that atheism is just another ‘religious belief’, in effect just the flip side of their own. It also undermines the principle that real charity is about giving help or aid without the need to spread, endorse or promote any belief or ideology (religious or political).

    However, many charities (at least here in the U.K.) are ‘non religious’ and I try to support these. The difference between a charity being ‘non religious’ and a charity being ‘atheist’ may seem a minor semantic point but by being ‘non religious’ it cuts through the crap that charity is a thing of the religious without the hypocrisy or accusation that it is merely doing charity to promote a belief or world-view.

  18. says

    Last night I helped out with the Sarasota chapter of FOOD NOT BOMBS. They serve free vegetarian food to the homeless in a downtown park every Friday evening. I made a big pot of vegan chili to share. It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like that, and it felt very empowering.