Tag Archives: secularism

Religious Belief and Charity

One of the things that comes up a lot around this time of year is that the religious are far more generous and charitable than the non-religious.  But that’s just not the case.  And it’s simply wrong because of the way that studies consider charitable giving.  In fact, they consider giving to a church to be charity, which is not what it is.  The overwhelming majority of churches do very little actual charitable work with the money they receive.  In fact, as I’ve written before, they tend to use charity as a means to preach to the most vulnerable people in society, people who have nowhere else to go and are therefore inundated with religious messages over and over again so they can get something to eat or have a roof over their heads.  I find that kind of religious charity to be reprehensible.

In fact, once you remove church giving from the mix, it turns out that the religious are very uncharitable.  Back in 2013, a study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy suggested that southern states were, in fact, the most charitable around, with about 5.2% of discretionary income given to charity. Of course, once you pull out the church giving, that number went down to 0.9% of their discretionary income given to actual charities.  You know, the ones who actually help people. And who did lead the way in actual charitable giving?  The northeast states, which just so happen to be the least religious. That should come as no surprise.

In another study, this one coming out of England, they tested the altruism of children and found that non-religious children are by far more generous than religious children.   The study also found religious children to be more “sensitive” than non-religious children, but that non-religious children, rather than being “sensitive” actually did something about inequality.  This confirms the finding in the 2013 study that shows that the religious, while feeling more “sensitive”, also only try to help themselves.  We know that 75% of “charitable giving” in this country is money given to churches.

But as we know, most of that money that is used for “charitable” purposes doesn’t go to the poor.  According to Harvard’s Robert Putnam, “Over the last 30 years, most organized religion has focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those. I’m not saying if that’s good or bad, but that’s what they’ve been using all their resources for … It’s been entirely focused on issues of homosexuality and contraception and not at all focused on issues of poverty.”

So can we really consider religious giving, that money that either goes directly to the churches or to religious charity, to be all that worthwhile?  After all, very little of that money goes to help anyone and where it does, there is often a very heavy-handed religious message attached.  Actually helping people is a loss-leader, their real goal is trying to convert the masses, not trying to lift people out of poverty.  Those charities, almost all secular, who just help people for the sake of helping people, are much better than those religious charities who only help people to inflate their numbers.  They aren’t doing it out of altruism, they are doing it out of self-interest.  Is that charity?  I don’t think so.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.8

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Zombie Hitler!

This week, the guys, with special guest Christian Kemp from the IAmAnAtheist blog, take on abortion stupidity in Ohio, racist nonsense from Pastor Manning, go after the Duggars and the Quiverful movement, look at a Hitler fan in South Africa and revisit the re-opening of relations with Cuba.  Then we take some time to talk about secularism and the misrepresentation and outright lies of the religious.
Go listen.  Come on, you know you want to!

Why Can’t People Understand the Difference Between Atheism and Secularism?

words-matter-logoIn a recent post over on Dangerous Talk, Staks Rosch argues that advocating for atheism is important and makes a pretty good argument.  The problem is, what he really seems to be advocating isn’t atheism, but secularism.  These are two entirely different things.  I find it a bit silly that so many people treat atheism as if it’s a “thing”.  It’s nothing of the sort.  It’s the lack of a thing.  Once you add a “thing” to it, it’s no longer atheism but something else.

He mentions the National Atheist Party, which really is a ridiculous concept because inherently, it can have no platform.  Atheism has no creeds, no beliefs and no positions on anything except the existence of gods.  Now clearly, they are trying to play up the well-known word “atheism” in their title, but in so doing, they are engaging in a linguistic faux pas.  As I pointed out on Staks’ blog, the word they are looking for is “secular”, which is a concept that is shared and supported not just by many atheists, but by many theists as well.  Many religious people understand that allowing religion to gain political power is dangerous for us all, once they get enough money and support behind them, they can start forcing their theology on us all, religious or otherwise.

Words have meanings for a reason, it aids in concise understanding of concepts.  If you’re not willing to use the right word for the right idea, then you are failing at proper communication.  Unfortunately, with the current sub-standard standards of education, where people graduate from high school thinking “u” is a word, I suppose it’s no surprise that people fail to understand the linguistic subtleties.  Hell, I guess we should feel lucky that they know what “atheist” is and can manage to use it in a sentence.  It’s sad that half of them can’t spell it.

Please, for the love of no-God, if you mean “secularism”, say “secularism”.  Think about it.  If most people would, they’d realize that in virtually every case that they currently use the word “atheism”, they really don’t mean it.  In fact, one of the few actually valid uses of the word is in reference to your own personal views on the existence of a god.  Once it gets away from talking about individuals, that usage gets much more tenuous.  When you start applying it to groups of people, you have to be extremely careful, you’re on unstable ground, and the second that you start talking about atheist positions, creeds, beliefs or anything of the sort, you’re off the reservation.