Donations to Christian Groups February 27, 2008

Donations to Christian Groups

Random question:

As an atheist, have you ever given money to a Christian organization?

(What was the reason?)

Obviously, there are Christian groups like the Salvation Army that many people have donated to. However, I’m referring more to groups like Campus Crusade for Christ, which exist solely to advance the Christian faith (and everyone knows it).

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • Nope, never. I’ve only donated to charities that have goals that I support.

  • Yes, I have given money to a Christian group here on campus that helps drug users overcome their addictions. In my mind, whether the group was secular or not is subordinate to their ultimate goal: helping others.

    However, most of the money I donate to charity goes to secular organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières.

  • Bo

    A friend of mine had a church that was planning a mission trip to spread The Word in a different country once.The church had a fundraiser that involved a local pizza place – if you bought a pizza the night their people were working, money would go to their trip. I bought pizza and got some of my group to buy some too. It made sense at the time, helping my friend, but after it I felt a little off. Their mission trip was definitely low-key and the church is relatively liberal, but I still don’t think I should have done it.

    Months later the same friend and I were waiting for something to start, and stopped to drop something off at her church, which was having a get-together for local students. There was a collection basket in front of the entrance, and someone was nicely asking for donations for another mission trip as people walked in. I almost handed over a couple dollars as a reflex, but I decided I couldn’t do it in good conscience.

  • I’ve donated to the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship before. I think they were using it to stop slave trafficking or something, though I wonder whether its uses were purely secular. I did it because I basically didn’t think about it too much.

  • Adrian

    I found that donations to religious organizations require too much background checking on my behalf to ensure the money is being spent in a way that I value. It’s just not worth the effort to locate the few charities that are religious in name but not in their practices.

    I don’t donate to any “atheistic” charities (if that sounds stupid or repulsive, that’s how I feel about “Christian” charities), I donate to charities that are strictly neutral wrt religion, leave politics for elsewhere. Fortunately there are more than enough secular charities which are more than deserving, like Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders).

  • I found that donations to religious organizations require too much background checking on my behalf to ensure the money is being spent in a way that I value.

    And this is especially hard with churches since they do not have to supply any information to the IRS as to how they spend their money (unlike all other non-profits who must fill out pages of tax forms to prove they are not misusing their funds and also for the exact reason you mention above, to allow the general public to see how their donations are being spent, i.e. accountability).

  • no, but i have given to charities (United Way, MS Society, etc) that have many religious sponsors/backers. in my profession, some of that is hard to avoid. for example, a portion of my registrations for local bridal shows almost always goes to one charity or another, and it hardly works in my favor to say, “Nope, I’ll pay you [Registration Free Minus the Donation] because I don’t want to donate to some [Christian Charity of the Moment]”.

  • Lainey

    I don’t mind donating clothes and food to shelters run by a religious organization. However, I will not donate any money to an religious org unless I know the money is going directly to the cause and free of mission type indoctrinations. Which pretty much equates to no I won’t give money to religious charities.

  • cipher

    It’s just not worth the effort to locate the few charities that are religious in name but not in their practices.

    American Jewish World Service is a secular organization with a “religious” name. They run a number of programs in different countries, dealing with hunger, poverty, disease, etc. They have a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, most of the money received goes to the programs, and there is no proselytizing involved (which Jews don’t do, in any case). I’ve donated to them repeatedly.

  • PrimateIR

    Yes, I donate regularly to the Catholic Church here.

    They help people without regard to their religious leanings and I’ve employed people from their homeless teen outplacement program and had good results. I don’t make any secret of my atheism and their response has been more curious than affronted.

    I haven’t yet found a program that is as efficient or fair.

  • KC

    I grew up dirt poor which made my family a frequent target for religious “charity” so I do not donate to religious charities for any reason, including the Salvation Army. As of now, I give to the local food pantry, a secular charity for kids back where I come from and Doctors without Borders.

  • Siamang

    You know… reading up…

    I was going to list the Midnight Mission in Downtown LA as a religious group I had given money to. But reading their website… they’re non-religious! Yes, they were founded by a lay-minister, which is where they got their name, but they’ve since become nonreligious.. although they do have a volunteer chaplain who conducts voluntary non-denominational services, and they have AA meetings.


  • Betty

    I do not donate to any religious organizations on principle. I worked extensively with the Salvation Army for years, but when a friend let it slip that I was an atheist, I was asked to leave. At that time, they depended on me coming to work at the soup kitchen so much that they actually ended up having to hire someone to take my place, rather than have an atheist work for free.

    I’ve come to realize that while some Christian charities do it just to be good, most seem to offer help to others only on the condition that the needy ones listen to preaching. It just doesn’t seem right to me. Even during the Katrina disaster, it seemed that droves of preachers came to the shelter where I was volunteering… none of them actually did ANY amount of work that needed to be done, they were there exclusively to try to get people to convert. It’s almost like they were taking advantage of people in their time of need, preying on their feelings. I usually don’t have a problem with the church, but that sort of behavior really left a sour taste in my mouth 🙁

  • Tolga K.

    I was going to donate to some Christian charity until I looked into their goals and found that a good sum of the money goes towards handing out bibles, preaching, and building churches.

    It seems to me that converting is more important to them than helping people (because they think conversions are as good as physical help).

  • I’ve never donated to the CCC, however, I have extended a hand whenever they needed help. I was president of a chapter of Sigma Tau Delta in deep South Texas and I never allowed my “prejudice” to get in the way of the job. And for the most part, because I’ve heard horror stories from other people about other chapters of CCC, they were respectful towards my beliefs. They even aided our organization with the collection of books for a juvenile detention center–only one was a religious book, which was ironic, because that’s what I was hoping they’d donate (the juvenile detention center’s advocate and I both agreed religion passes the time, even though we felt uneasy promoting it). To be fair, a few books on other religions was donated by Buddhists and philosophy majors.

    So if the time came when they needed a favor from us, I was ready to help out in anyway as possible, even if it was monetary. However, my term ended last December and they never asked for assistance. The people who actually pushed their beliefs on the students at the OSD was actually the PeTA people. And man were they annoying.

  • I have in the past, and likely will continue to donate to some religious organizations under fairly specific circumstances and for specific purposes (generally humanitarian, like providing food and shelter for disaster relief). I won’t say that I never have concerns about it, if I’m satisfied that the large majority of the money is being used for the stated purpose, and the group in particular hasn’t been doing anything particularly nasty outside of that, I don’t feel bothered by giving to them – if I I am reasonably certain my donation will do a great deal of good, I don’t have a big issue with theists being part of the process.

  • Adrian

    Much of this reminds me of my second objection, in addition to questions about where the money will go: who will they help and who will they hire?

    Even groups like Boy Scouts won’t allow atheists in any capacity (as a scout or a leader) and let’s not get started on homosexuals. That’s reprehensible.

  • I have been down to Georgia a few times to see Jimmy Carter teach Sunday school, and I have bought some of the lessons on tape. They do use it for mission purposes in Nicaragua as well as feeding poor people in Georgia. But in this case there is obvious historical value.

    If religion is used to help people, that is fine. If it is used to control people, that is not fine.

  • nowoo

    I was donating monthly to a Christian organization that sponsors children in third world countries when I became an atheist. I continued my donations for several months after I stopped believing, but eventually I stopped donating to that group because I didn’t want to support an organization that promotes religion. My sponsored child was already 18 years old at the time, so he was graduating out of the program anyway.

    I switched all my donations to non-religious charities so I could continue to help various causes without promoting the kind of indoctrination in supernatural beliefs that was done to me.

  • robin

    World Vision. They do good work.

    I don’t care what religious beliefs a group pushes as long as the help they give to a community is not conditional on “accepting the good word.”

  • ss

    No, I posted about this on my blog in fact:

    As far as I know all the organizations I support are secular. There are plenty to choose from without supporting religious organizations that will probably, as part of their mission, work to convert people to a belief system that I feel is harmful to humanity in general and unhelpful to the individual.

  • cipher

    Recently, I donated to Feed the Children. They describe themselves as a Christian organization, but I haven’t seen any evidence that they proselytize. It appears that they don’t. Does anyone have any more information about this?

  • John

    I don’t understand why someone would not donate to a important cause because some people who founded the charity were Christians. I can understand about not wanting to support a charity that was starting churches or handing out Bibles with the mindset “I’ll give you food if you listen to my sermon.” But not donating to a cause just because it has Christians running it seems as intolerant as the Boy Scouts not letting in atheists.

  • Adrian

    John – Who is saying they care about the religion of a charity’s founders? I think you may be misreading some of the comments.

  • Adrian

    John – there is a very big difference between an atheistic charity and a secular one. Secular groups can be (and probably are) founded and run by religious individuals.

  • I too try to pick charities that I regard as being socially responsible. The Salvation Army is one that I especially refuse to support, as not only do they promote a religious agenda, they are anti-homosexual. In this area, their bell ringers can be a bit pushy, and they are not shy about guilt-trips. The spiteful part of me is looking forward to the next time one of them makes a comment to me. With great aplomb I shall declare, “I’m TERRIBLY SORRY, I don’t support organizations with an anti-homosexual agenda!”

  • Losana Latu

    Hello everyone,  I am Mrs. Losana Latu the Secretary of  the  National Reformation Centre in Tonga. We are urgently looking for donors to support us. I’ll give you all a brief background of this centre, and if you are interested  you can contact me by this email :, and I will give the full detail and all information about this centre.
    This centre is privately operated by the President and members  of the Kingdom Advance International Church. We are looking after :
                                * some of the youth from the psychological ward from the Hospital.
                                * some of the deportees
                                * probationers from the police department
                                * youths collected  from different places ( like prostitute camp, drugs and
                                * and some oldies (some of them prefer to come and stay at the centre rather
                                   than staying at home.)
    We do not have any fund from anywhere to support us, even our government, and this is the first time for us to look for donors. We started this centre in 2007 and the number of youth coming in for help is going up every year. The place we used to house them in is rented and we pay water and electrical  bills. Our fund is from the tithe of the church members only.

    Please I needs some name and email address of donors. please if you can help contact me through the above emails.  and I will give the full details.

    Thank you ,

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