Atheist Donates Millions to New York Catholic Schools August 10, 2010

Atheist Donates Millions to New York Catholic Schools

Atheist Robert W. Wilson made hundreds of millions of dollars in hedge funds.

And he recently gave $5,600,000 to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

“Most of what the Catholic schools teach are the three Rs,” said Wilson, 83, in a phone interview, referring to reading, writing and arithmetic. “And they do it better than the union-controlled inner-city schools.”

Wilson began making donations to the New York archdiocese in 1997 with a gift of $10,000, and he continued at that level for several years. Then Susan George, executive director of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, asked him to consider giving more money to the schools. Wilson responded in 2007 with a $22.5 million gift to the archdiocese’s Cardinal’s Scholarship Program. He later saw a need for a better alumni support network.

Your thoughts?

An atheist philanthropist worthy of respect?

A traitor wasting his money?


(Thanks to Ed for the link)

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  • Yeonghoon Joung

    This is a definite FU. Maybe a traitor, but that’s stretching – though who knows how that money is going to circle in and around the Church.

    I don’t know why he didn’t bother to give the same money to make the ‘less’ well-off schools perform better, or establish his own educational program/scholarship/etc.

  • Carlie

    The city schools could do better with that much money, too.

  • Greg

    Major FU for funding the indoctrination and miseducation of innocent children, and for supporting an organization that’s permissive of the sexual abuse of children.

  • how misguided.

  • If the inner city schools are in so much trouble, then couldn’t they have benefited more from that money? Privately funded Catholic schools do well precisely because they have all of that private funding. They don’t need more.

    Inner city schools need help, and millions of dollars could have made such a difference. I applaud his generosity, certainly, but I think it’s very ill-considered, especially since it went to a Catholic archdiocese. I can’t condone supporting a criminal organization, even with the best of intentions.

  • bigjohn756

    Obviously not an atheist.

  • flawedprefect

    actually, I need to read this article more closely, but my initial reaction was that it doesn’t matter where he donates it to. If the school has a good education system, needs funding to upkeep facilities and pay talented staff, then it does not matter what type of school it is. in fact, this would stand as an example of atheists being non-partisan, neutral to religiosity, and doing good for goodness’ sake. It sounds kinda crazy, but if he only gave to secular organizations, the PR spin against him would be obvious. This is, to my mind, a good PR move, if nothing else.

  • ‘union controlled inner-city schools’…sounds like he’s a capitalist first and atheist second.

  • A traitor to what? The non-existence of God? How do you betray that? Maybe the fact that he doesn’t believe in God has no relation to his views on the church and the kind of education he feels children will get from it. Maybe he’s perfectly happy with the social and moral views of the church, just doesn’t buy into all the hocus-pocus. He certainly doesn’t owe any explanation to anyone else.

  • Demonhype

    Given the fact that Catholic schools not only prioritize indoctrination but that the Catholic Church in general has been shown to have a problem with raping children*, I’d say it’s a big FU. Is that really a reasonable tradeoff?

    I’m speaking, of course, as a former Catholic schoolgirl. Sure, the education was okay, so long as it didn’t contradict the Holy Writ too much. I’ve told my parents that I might have gone into science instead of art if I had gotten a decent damn science education instead of “yeah, well, we have to mention evolution, they think we came from monkeys, how silly is that? Ha ha! Now lets open our Bibles to Genesis and see how it really happened!”

    Not to mention that mindless obedience was enforced as a priority over human decency. Mild insubordination earned an immediate expulsion. Physically brutalizing another student earned you a 25 minute detention. As long as you always did exactly as you were told by an authority figure, nothing else really mattered.

    Fantastic way to prime the little ones for the dear Father’s visits. *groan*

    He’d do much better to use the money to try and either improve the public schools or open up some kind of educational program himself.

    *Somehow, I imagine that line being read by Sideshow Bob. “You know I used to have…a problem….-cough-…with trying to kill people…?”

  • Some places the choice is a poor quality public school, or a great private catholic school.

    For the same reason you might check yourself into a catholic hospital, some catholic schools are very good and deserve respect. I studied up to middle school in a catholic school and religion never got mixed with science class. Ever.

  • tim

    I would take most Catholic schools over most public schools any day of the week (of course there are exceptions). I even offered to send my nephews to a local Catholic elementary school until 7th grade (my evangelical sister-in-law refused the request for some reason or another).

    Speaking as a fellow atheist if you really think all Catholics schools are all about the “indoctrination and miseducation of innocent children” your perspective is royally fucked.

  • Ben

    It’s his money….he can do as he sees fit. And he may be right. I’m a teacher in an inner city public school and I don’t think there is hardly any amount of money that can fix the educational problem before they can fix societal problems. And there are so many societal problems! Besides, I think Christopher Hitchens was on to something when he partly favored the forced teaching of religion in public school because he couldn’t think of a better way of producing a constant stream of atheists!

  • He’s given hundreds of millions of dollars to some good charities – that makes him one hell of a good person in my book.

    Now if he’d just kindly send some cash to the Foundation Beyond Belief, the National Center for Science Education and maybe the American Humanist Association, the man would rival Gates, IMO!!!

    Perhaps he just needs a little encouragement? 😉

  • Jeremy

    Well the only problem I have with it is political. “Union controlled inner-city schools”? I appreciate this man’s contribution to education, but his view on unions gets a big FUCK YOU from me.

  • It is his money and he may spend it as he pleases I suppose. How I feel about it is mostly irrelevant.

    I can say I err slightly on the side of “I don’t like it,” though. I think there are more worthwhile applications of such generous gifts than sinking it further into -anything- religion-related, be it an educational institution or not.

  • littlejohn

    Better to have given it to the public schools, but he could have done far worse. At least it went to education.

  • Victor

    I don’t really have an issue with him donating to a catholic school, being the product of a liberal system that taught science, human sexuality and about other religions. What I do have an issue with is his reasoning, not the union controlled comment either, but the “no child left behind” reasoning of the public schools are failing, don’t have the funds to get proper books, do proper upkeep, pay their teachers a livable wage, engage their students successfully, and adequately prepare those students for college and beyond…so let’s not give them any money! WTF?!?!

  • Hey! My husband used to teach in the Jersey City public school system… which is not the same system, but close. He didn’t teach the three R’s – he taught biology. To willing students as well as punks and thugs. With no supplies to speak of and a school library that was located in the biology classroom’s closet, that consisted of books he and I begged and bought and donated ourselves (with help). Including a selection of African-American interest books that I’m personally proud of.

    Union or no, public schools NEED the money. And the teachers are extraordinarily good at stretching pennies.

  • flawedprefect

    Just read the article more closely. It seems as though he’s been contributing for some time. He is giving to an educational institution. My feeling is that if Rev. Dolan didn’t want to allow an atheist to be seen in a good light, the onus was on him to reject the money. This is a big plus for the positive face of Atheism. I too went through the Catholic school system. I recalled little to no indoctrination outside of religion class, which was seen as a bludge, anyway. My teachers were mainly lay people; two were openly gay, and even the staff were accepting of them. I only had one or two priests as teachers, and they were mainly for relief.

    I reckon this is a win on a few levels. My vote is for atheist philanthropist worthy of respect. (Note: he does give to other charities including conservation funds).

  • Epistaxis

    He can make it all better by giving the same amount to the Secular Student Alliance!

  • Tim

    Those schools are already doing well, they don’t need money. God knows (hah!) the Church rakes in enough ill-begotten money to fund their indoctrination mills. If the guy acknowledges that the public schools aren’t doing as well, shouldn’t that make it obvious that they’re the ones who need (and deserve) his donations? I vote philanthropist worthy of respect ONLY for supporting education (religious as it may be), but I vote definite FU (nice rageguy reference if I caught your drift) for not donating to public schools or secular charities. Traitor…maybe. But probably not.

  • Given the many years of suffering that I got to enjoy at the hands of “excellent Catholic schools,” I’m having none of this. That would be much better spent being donated to public schools that need it.

    Of course, maybe the school he’s donating to is different; but mine were indoctrination and guilt left and right, so I have a hard time putting any trust whatsoever in to the Catholic school system.

  • Badger3k

    The “poor quality” inner city public schools routinely are underfunded and understaffed. A donation of that size could have turned around some of those schools and made them better, without the indoctrination and child rape. The man’s a clueless git. He’s not a traitor to atheism (or any such bunk, what the hell does that mean anyway), but he is supporting the corruption of children. Hmm…I’ll add wanker to the pot as well.

  • JD

    So the only two choices are Catholic schools and public schools? There were really no other viable options? Sounds like this person really wasn’t trying.

  • Michael

    I am an atheist who was sent to a private Catholic school which was of much higher quality than the surrounding public schools. You think PUBLIC schools won’t be corrupted by that money? Google “Kansas City School District” for a bit of research.

    Maybe he knew the school was quality and would do well with the money. As much as I despise the Catholic religion (and I truly do), sometimes atheists act like 100% of Catholics and Catholic priests rape small boys.

  • Andrew

    Traitor? Atheism is not a monolith and it is not an organization. You can call it a movement if you like, but there are only movements within atheism, not a giant atheism movement. The man isn’t a traitor. He’s an individual who is giving money to catholic schools, which, along with quaker schools, are really good at providing a mostly secular education to a great many children – many of whom are children of atheists and the unchurched.

  • Kaylya

    He can decide to spend his money as he sees fit. I have decided that I don’t want to give to religious charities, but others see things differently.

    Now, if I had $5 million to give to a school, and I didn’t want it to go to the “union controlled” public schools, well, that money would go a long way towards setting up a secular private school, or for scholarships at an existing one..

  • Robster, FCD

    That’ll end up being used to buy the Bishop a brand new 5 ounce 24k ring with a huge flawless ruby and the remainder will pay off their next batch of sex crime settlements.

    Great Job!

  • Tometheus

    I think he can donate to whatever school he wants, but cut the rationalization because it just doesn’t make sense. If the inner-city schools are currently doing worse, wouldn’t they get more benefit out of the donation?

  • Twewi

    I actually kind of agree with him. I went to both Catholic and public schools, and the Catholic ones did a better job academically. Especially compared to what I’ve heard about New York public schools.

    Also, I met way more atheists at Catholic school. In fact, I can’t think of one other kid who identified as atheist at my public high school, while I recall several from my Catholic high school. Kids at public school tended to be religious without really knowing or doing anything about their religion, but kids at Catholic school all had religious lessons, so they were informed, whether religious or not.

    All that said, I think this is the wrong answer. I think the Catholic schools are doing better, but that doesn’t mean we should give them a bunch of money. It means we should fix the public schools and give them more money.

  • Seymour Skinner

    @flawedprefect, Darwin’s Dagger, alopiasmag, tim, Ben, Andrew, & Kaylya:

    What the hell is wrong with you people? Don’t you see that the shepherd is here to herd you along? The herd is nicely moving along THAT way – so why aren’t YOU falling in line?!?

    Damn free thinkers and their determination to think for themselves…

  • Dan W

    The Catholic Church has enough money already. They don’t need more. I think he could have given it to the local public schools, who just might be more deserving of it. Considering some of the reprehensible stuff the Catholic Church has done, and that public schools generally try to avoid indoctrinating kids with religious bullshit, I really can’t understand this man’s reasoning in giving the Catholic Church more money (even to help their Catholic schools).

  • Neon Genesis

    The Catholic church won’t let us teach at their schools but they’ll gladly take our money.

  • For someone so smart its an awfully dumb thing to do.

  • xiphas

    Having gone to public schools through 8th grade, and an all boys Catholic school for high school, I can say the Catholic school gave me a far superior education. In fact, I think all the religion classes actually led more people away from religion, as we actually learned about the history of the church, what is actually in the bible, the ridiculous teachings of the Catholic church, as well as the plethora of world religions.

    I firmly believe that I went to the best academic high school in Ohio (we actually cared about academics rather than football) and even though I am firmly in the atheist camp, I would not hesitate to send my son(s) to the high school I went to.

    Although if I ever do donate back there (once I get out of grad school and actually make money) I’d make sure that it went to scholarships for students rather than to the Columbus diocese as a whole, which is apparently close to what Robert Wilson has done.

  • I don’t know about Catholic schools through personal or academic research experiences, however if they are like Catholic hospitals; then they teach lies, fallacies, and often misogynistic and homophobic beliefs.

    I don’t see him as a traitor. He can spend his dowry however he wishes. I do wonder though if he did his research apriori.

  • DemetriusOfPharos

    While it is ultimately his right to give his money to whomever/whatever he chooses, his reasoning is specious.

    Most of what the Catholic schools teach are the three Rs…

    Even if it were true that Catholic schools excelled in teaching those three subjects, I don’t put as much importance on them past about third or fourth grade. Math, science and computers are much more important (in my opinion) in this day and age. The importance of the scientific method and the critical thinking that comes with it cannot be overstated.

    Plus calling those three subjects “the three R’s” has always gotten on my nerves (I’m 28 if that matters, I heard it a lot in early grade school and always found it to be an annoying oversimplification, even if my thoughts weren’t couched in that particular phrase at the time).

  • Django

    I suspect more molestation/rape occurs in the public schools of New York City than its Catholic schools.

    This sort of thing is commonplace:

  • I don’t like it politically, but I think it’s a wonderful example of being good without god. First off: A lot of my personal atheist friends went to Catholic School, so I’m not too worried about this guy funding mind-warping. Secondly, a Catholic school is still a school and the funding of education is vital for freedom of mind or anything else. Third, It’s pretty good outreach. When Catholic parents find out an atheist gave them millions of dollars, they may at least say to themselves “Atheists aren’t so bad. Maybe we can stop demonizing them.”

    I wish it had been public schools, but I abhor the idea of calling someone a ‘traitor’ to atheism. There’s nothing to adhere to in atheism nor is there anything to betray.

  • I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. I might as well leave my money to the Discovery museum.

  • Lobar

    Kinda hope they return the money. It would at once both demonstrate and correct his error in judgment.

  • R9

    People here are saying catholic schools have enough money but according to Wilson himself “I realized that Catholic schools were closing all over the country”…. “Every private school I hear of relies on alumni support, whether it’s the Groton School or the universities.”

    I don’t know the situation myself, being the other side of the Atlantic. Maybe also he thinks that throwing money at public schools just won’t accomplish anything and they’ll continue to suck.

  • Geek Gazette

    I have to admit that everyone I know that went to a Catholic school are far more successful and were so earlier in life than those of us that went to public school. I am just now in my graduate program and most of my Catholic school friends finished theirs over 10 years ago. I’m also one of only a few out of the public school bunch, in my group of friends, who went beyond an associates degree. Most didn’t even make it that far.

  • flawedprefect

    @Seymour Skinner – wise men pick their battles. This is good PR for non-believers. If anything, it makes the Catholic institution look greedy for taking the money, regardless who is giving it.

    We don’t need to “breed” or “school” our own; as many have testified above: they knew openly atheist kids in their Catholic schools! Going to a religiously run school does not automatically make you religious, clearly. Going to a better funded, better run, and with better teachers gives you more opportunity. As much as I’d love to send my kid to a non-religious school, or have had the choice myself, we are not there yet, but the answer is not to send every kid belonging to a non-religious family to a non-religious school. You might be doing a disservice to your offspring in the long run.

    Optimistically, however, this is a move which bridges a divide and makes us non-religious appear giving and charitable, while still being able to proclaim our atheism.

  • Claudia

    Traitor? No, we don’t have loyalty pledges. Maybe if he had donated to, say, the Discovery Institute, it would be closer to traitorous, because amongst other things they promote the idea that atheism leads to immorality.

    I certainly consider it a misguided donation, that would be better spent in more secular educational charities, but he could also have not given a cent to anyone and we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all. Frankly I find his previous donations to the archdiocese far more troubling. If he just gave money to the church outright, then it may have gone to fund anti-condom intiatives in Africa or to paying the lawyers employed in shielding pedophiles and their enablers in the church. THAT is actively immoral, donating to Catholic schools just mildly stupid.

  • A necessary investment, because of course the Catholic church is hard-up and needs more money in its practically empty coffers at the crumbling Vatican.

    Then again, in the real world….

  • Silent Service

    I just think of how many secular schollarships that could have created. But you know how hard up the Catholic church is.

  • Ben

    Not a traitor, just STUPID.

  • Revyloution

    Wow, Im surprised at the number of negative responses.

    A few corrections about misconceptions.

    The Catholic schools are separate institutions from the Catholic church.
    Many of them around the US are closing because they are underfunded.
    Most have very high academic standards. Teachers are kept on merit, not seniority.
    Catholic schools in the US have higher than average GPA, and college graduation rates.

    I didn’t go to a Catholic school. I learned these things when I was criticizing them. As bit of anecdotal evidence, everyone I personally know who attended a Catholic school is an atheist.

    Our public school system still needs work. It has deep flaws that money alone won’t fix. I can understand why he wouldn’t want to throw a pile of money on them, only to see it wasted.

    I wish there were a better option (or maybe there is, and he just didn’t find it), but I’m glad he is supporting education. The more kids are exposed to real education, including philosophy and real science, the better equipped they will be to tackle the world. As for atheism, the more they attend college, the more likely they will be to give up religion (there is a clear correlation between secular thinking and higher education)

    And last, he clearly has a problem with unions. Im no free market capitalist, but I do agree that many unions are working against the long term welfare of their members. The entire concept of unions needs to be rethought and reworked, just like our education system.

    Im giving his donation the Mediocre Pragmatist Philanthropist of the Year award. Good job throwing money at a complex problem. It’s marginally better than doing nothing.

  • Denis Robert

    His right-wing ideology was more important to him than his lack of belief. He wanted to stick it to Unions, period. Which just goes to show, you can be an atheist and be an ideological, faith-based prick too (his faith is the so-called “Free” Market).

  • stogoe

    “And they do it better than the union-controlled inner-city schools.”

    Right. Wing. Nutbag. Denis Robert has it exactly correct.

  • stogoe

    It is his money and he may spend it as he pleases

    This might be cogent if anyone was actually trying to argue that point, you lackwit.

    Yes, he can spend the money he stole from those who labored under him any damn way he pleases. That does not make him not an ass or a moron.

  • muggle

    stogo, well said. He can do what he wants with his money — including being an asshole with it, which is what he is doing here.

    Frankly, I have my doubts he is Atheist. Something about this story stinks to high heaven.

    It’s just not logical. Okay, you can argue if it were several thousand that he felt the education was better but $5 million could have opened up an excellent secular (not Catholic or freethought just not taking a stand; you know, like the public schools are supposed to do) school in the inner city and probably made it tuition free to many. Or even paid for scholarships to private schools for hundreds of inner city kids. He could have done that without stipulating what school. The parents could have used them at the Catholic (he’s not the government, after all) or whatever school of their choice. Maybe he’s got something against Jews for all we know and didn’t want to give any to their schools which are easily as excellent as the Catholic without the scandal. Or a Muslim, Hindu, etc. school (This is New York; they must have a broad variety of religious schools which begs the question, why the Catholic?).

    I seriously smell a rat and I don’t think it’s just to do with unions but with some sort of religious bigotry. Otherwise, he’d have spent the $5 million on schools of the parents’ choice. (No money would have gone to public schools since there’s no charge to parents for them.)

  • muggle

    (my evangelical sister-in-law refused the request for some reason or another).

    If she’s protestant and anything like my mother, Catholics are pretty much Satan worshippers. With their graven images and false idols and all.

    I didn’t say it made sense. My mother very rarely made any sense.

  • I think his reasoning is basically on the mark. I went to a relatively good public school, and it was mediocre. Also, teachers unions can make it very hard to fire bad teachers. On the other hand, aren’t there secular private schools he could have given the money to? Or, couldn’t he have set up a scholarship fund to help poor students attend private schools?

    Also, I don’t expect a productive debate about economics in this thread, but since someone dissed the free market in this thread, I may was well respond in kind: FU.

  • Andrew Morgan

    I find these comments hilarious.

    First of all, except for the few of you that seem to think capitalism is a dirty word, the man turned $15K in to $225 million. So a “clueless git” he is apparently not, unless you think it’s pure chance that he’s made himself a millionaire and not due to, I don’t know, shrewd research and investing. Sounds like something he just did more of, no?

    Second of all, the money is going toward a scholarship program for needy children who live at or below the poverty line. This man seems to think Catholic schools are in dire financial straits, and so in a choice between, yes — union controlled city schools or private schools, he chose the latter.

    Third of all, I’m going to wager most of you don’t have a clue what it costs to run, upgrade, expand, etc an inner city public school. I don’t either, but I’m not sitting here armchair quarterbacking.

    Lastly, as others have said, for a group that prides itself as being diverse and non-ideological, God forbid an atheist decides to do something with his money that doesn’t toe the atheist pro-liberal party line. I’m not going to question his private beliefs from afar, even if I didn’t agree with his decision. (Seriously: “maybe he’s got something against Jews?” Are you high?)

    Oh, and to the person who said “Yes, he can spend the money he stole from those who labored under him any damn way he pleases. That does not make him not an ass or a moron.” Really? “Stole from those who labored under him?” Please.

    Good for you, philanthropist guy, for sending so many people into a tizzy merely for being wealthy and supporting an institution you believe does good work.

    I’m out!

  • I’m of the sentiment that his donation may end up being a great example of doing good for goodness’ sake. I may not agree with the “union-controlled inner city schools” hogwash, but the guy gave a boatload money because he felt this organization had done a good job of educating children, whether or not he agreed with their woo. I may have a soft spot in my heart for this sort of thing, admittedly. I went to a Catholic college and received a fantastic education. Admittedly, it’s a very progressive Catholic college. Most of the faculty were Catholic, certainly, but I was taught by a few Jewish professors, a Muslim from Bosnia, and even an open atheist. The student body was polled to be only around 55% Catholic as well, so this may have had something to do with it. Looking back, I realize it reflects more positively on the school than the entire institution of Catholic education.

  • ckitching

    He sounds like a hard-core “government can do nothing right” libertarian to me. Of course, it’s his money. He can waste it however he chooses.

  • mike

    “Privately funded Catholic schools do well precisely because they have all of that private funding.”

    I don’t believe this is a factor in why Catholic school students do well. Cathoilic schools usually have far less money than public schools. Private schools due well with less money because they have the luxury of selecting who they teach.

  • Sarah

    If you believe the rest of the postings on public education from the atheist perspective, you’re more likely to learn about evolution in a Catholic school than a public school these days.
    I say this as an atheist and a former Catholic schoolgirl. In school, we were never taught creation in biology class, and even in religion class they told us not to take the Old Testament literally.
    My school was also underfunded and I guarantee you public school teachers make more than my teachers ever did.

  • I grew up Catholic in the northeast, it’s not taken seriously at all. I also went to Catholic high school where religion was negligible.

  • Django

    Maybe he wanted his money to go to actual education instead of down the buearucratic rat hole. New York City’s public schools are well funded – spending per pupil is among the highest in the nation, and the districts total budget is $21.9 billion.

  • Ben Zalisko

    I don’t disagree with him based on religion, but based on the same argument I have against private school vouchers. Give the same money to public schools to make them better, because in principle, public education is a much better long-term education strategy. If it wasn’t, we should hire private police forces and fire departments.

    If you like vouchers, or giving up on public… anything, than do some research and look at what happens when our prisons have been privatized.

  • Gauldar

    The church is an excelent tax shelter, and people who have a lot of money know this.

  • Aguz

    It depends on how good that school is. I went to a Catholic school and it was pretty good (evolution and sex ed was accurate and not bias, and no creationism at all!) and bible study was why I chose the atheist path (I was first in that class, how funny… I think reading the Bible and see for yourself is the best way to become critical thinker) then again, living in a different country were socialism (and therefore secular thinking) has a lot of influence could be the key point here.

  • William

    It was his money to give to whom he wanted. No one else’s opinion matters. As for him being a traitor, there is no group for him to betray. Atheism is not a religion any more than theism (e.g. the multiple religions in the world and the multiple atheistic philosophies). It’s simply the belief that there are no gods or just a lack of belief in any gods. Many atheists believe in many different things outside of this one belief. We are not a cohesive group or community. So, for that fact alone, this atheist philanthropist cannot be a traitor. There’s no one to betray.

  • Brian Westley

    I must admit I’m in favor of anything that increases the number of Catholic schoolgirls in the general population.

  • rcs8924

    This money could have been used to rent a building, hire a couple of teachers, and start a secular private school.

  • In my own experience, catholic schools turn out more atheists and deists than they do True Catholics. Probably because they encourage reading the bible and talking about beliefs, or at least my liberal catholic high school in bay area California did.

  • Demonhype

    @Andrew Morgan

    Just because a guy can turn a smaller amount of money into a very large amount of money does not make him the omniscient and infallible guru of all things. A person can be a financial genius and still be a “clueless git” in other areas. I’m sure even Stephen Hawking has the potential of being a clueless git in some areas of his life. Excellence in one area of life doesn’t necessitate excellence in all areas of life.

    I hear that all the time from various people: “If so-and-so is so dumb, then how come he’s rich (or richer than you)?” or “If so-and-so is so smart, how come he’s poor?” As if the acquisition of wealth is necessarily correlated with personal intelligence and superiority in all areas of life. It seems particularly bad in this “free-market” atmosphere today, where a person can’t possibly be evil or dishonest or stupid in any way if he’s rich, and any criticism of said rich people results in someone saying “Who are you to disagree with him? He makes a lot of money and you don’t, therefore he knows much more than you do about everything. Until you have millions of dollars, I suggest you sit down and shut up.”

    Besides, no one is really condemning the guy. No one is calling for his head, or his imprisonment, or his dismissal or expulsion from anything. No one is calling to destroy his livlihood. You’ll notice that most commenters are saying he has every right to do what he wants, and even those who strongly disagree are admitting that it’s kind of hard to be a “traitor” to atheism since there is no monolithic dogma to betray anyway. In fact, I’ve heard very little personal verbal abuse either. But we have every right to disagree with him or even to think that something doesn’t smell quite right or is a little odd about the situation, and we have every reason to voice that disagreement. To do so is not to be an unthinking dogmatist who only pretends to be rational. Reasoned disagreement is a valid part of rational discourse.

    How can we win? If we agree with anything an atheist does, we are a herd of unthinking dogmatists who pretend to be rational people. If we disagree with anything an atheist does, we again are a herd of unthinking dogmatists who pretend to be rational people. It seems there is nothing we can do or say that won’t be chalked up to unthinking dogmatism.

    Or perhaps we are only unthinking dogmatists if we agree with something an atheist does that a believer doesn’t like, or disagree with something an atheist does that a believer does like. We can only be considered rational thinkers if our opinions always line up with religious attitudes and pre-suppositions, just as the only good or honest atheist is an faitheist, nihilist, or hardened criminal because that lines up with the a priori assumptions of religious faith.


    I hear you on that. I have actually prevented people from sending their kids to Catholic schools when they hear my stories.


    I agree–I was never actively taught Creationism in biology class. But I was hardly taught evolution either. And what little evolution was taught was implicitly downplayed during the teaching and explicitly denigrated outside of biology class. Same thing with pretty much any other tidbit of scientific knowledge that was inconvenient to them but that they were technically required to tell us about. And in general, science was not really taught in a way to encourage the students–it was taught as a “well you need to know this, there it is, it’s kind of useful if you want to have a working toilet but it’s not really very important or interesting” and then have every detail of Catholic dogma taught as if it were vital scientific truth that you need to know, without which the very fabric of space and time might crumble and then what good will your precious SCIENCE be then? There are ways to undermine science education outside of teaching religion in science class, you know.

  • Rocinante


    As a Catholic school survivor (pre-K though 12th) I’m gonna say that no Catholic school deserves that kind of money. I’m pretty sure I hit the lottery in happening to find two science teachers who were willing to ignore the school’s dogma and teach like professionals(One of whom was a closet lesbian who got sacked after she was outed the year after I graduated.)

    Tack onto that the fact that I was barred from taking AP Chem and Calculus because they “conflicted” with the scheduling of my mandatory religion classes and almost missed the AP Bio exam for a mandatory Kairos retreat (perhaps you’ve heard of this particular farce) and you get an idea of just how seriously these people take real education.

    Sure, I got my 3 Rs (barely), but philanthropists of this nature need to remember that that 4th overwhelming R (religion) not only taints every aspect of the education provided, it also plays a huge role in actively blocking students interested in something more substantial than a prayer from pursing opportunities in the sciences.

  • gyhtyy

    “And they do it better than the union-controlled inner-city schools.”

    And so instead of improving secular schools that don’t teach things like creationism, or dogmatism, you chose to give money to a school that in your opinion was doing better? Well hell, in that case why don’t we all donate to millionaires? Poor people suck, but millionaires are doing fine, so clearly millionaires deserve more money!

  • muggle

    demonhype, once again, I am applauding you! Well said.

    You too, gyhtyy! Thank you very much. I am so sick of union trashing. Only reason to do away with the unions is to bring back the baron tycoons. And take a good look at what’s happening now that so many people buy the anti-union retoric. Unions are far from perfect and there is corruption but, hell, they’re still the only protection from total exploitation those born poor and unlucky have got.

    And I swear those who trash unions are the same ones who bemoan the disappearing middle class and the widening gap between the rich and the poor? Uh, hello, what the hell do you think is causing that? It’s the rich assholes getting away with their stinking let them eat cake attitude.

    I think I just named the rat I was smelling. Could it be that Catholic schools teach conformity and fear so much better than public schools? And this guy ain’t exactly unbiased as to whose side he’s on, the rich or the poor. I wonder how many of those poor kids he’s endowing an education in the den of pedophyllic cover up have parents working in his factories, figuratively speaking.

    Frankly, I live in upstate where I grew up. For the first time in my memory, the Catholic schools are having to advertise. Uh, gee, you think the scandal has anything to do with that?

    They’ve never needed to before. They were the affordable alternative to public school especially with troubled kids. I’ve known a lot of Catholic school graduates and, man, from the still pious to the lapsed to the laughing at the god notion, I’ve noticed one thing: every last one has Catholic school scars and horror stories about the nuns.

  • Carl

    Public schools recieve government funding, while Catholic schools do not. Catholic schools try to keep the tuition as low as they can so that parishioners can send their students to the school. The tuition is rarely enough to cover the cost of running the school and the parish ends up pouring resources from the parish into the school. The school and the parish are separate budgets. Parishes with schools especialy in poorer inner city areas struggle to support both the church and school.

    In response, Catholic schools began accepting students of all backgrounds. Remember, Catholic schools were opened because public schools reflected anti-Catholic sentiment in its teaching.

    Catholic schools do an excellent job with limited resources to provide a quality education. In inner city areas, the discipline and safety is another draw to non Catholic students.

    Catholic schools, obviously have prayer and Mass. It was their (parents) choiced to send the student to a Catholic school. The Catholic faith is part of the identity of the school, but the religion is not forced on the students.

    Mr. Wilson, is simply repsonding to the results Catholic schools are able to produce in poor inner city schools.

    Don’t worry about how the money is being used. A donor of the stature of Mr. Wilson has plenty of lawyers and financial advisors who make sure every dollar is accounted for. I work in the philanthropic field and know for a fact that every school or program funded is reviewed by his team.

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