Last Update on the FSM Church Vandalism June 16, 2011

Last Update on the FSM Church Vandalism

I had mentioned before that I spoke with Pastor John Bluebaugh at Christian Life Center about the vandalism issue. The church had cleaned up the mess and didn’t need the funds, but he was grateful for the gesture.

Today, I spoke with Pastor Jason Myhre at Westside Church. He said that a volunteer or two had helped them with cleanup and they didn’t need the funds either. He added that he appreciated what you all did.

Ok, so now what?

Like I said before, any money raised that wasn’t going to the churches would go to Foundation Beyond Belief and I’ll stick to that. The $2,600+ will be given to them in a few days. (I said this before, too, but in case you missed it, I’m on FBB’s board of directors.)

Just to clarify how FBB works (because there’s confusion in the comments), the organization helps non-theists give to a variety of secular charities in the areas of Peace, Education, Child Welfare, Poverty, etc. One of these categories (Challenge the Gap) selects a charity run by an interfaith or theistic group doing entirely secular work. This quarter, that charity is Buddhist Global Relief, which provides “relief to the poor and needy throughout the world regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender, or religion.”

Our members choose where their money goes, and if they’re not comfortable with money going to a particular category, they can easily say so. No money is given to any charity, including the one run by theists, without the consent of the individual donors themselves. Anyone who says the Foundation is “supporting faith” really doesn’t understand how we operate.

This $2,600+ won’t be going to one of the charities in particular, but it’ll go toward the Foundation’s overhead costs. I would encourage everyone who supports what the Foundation does to donate directly to them or become a member.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Siamang

    YAY! I love that FBB is getting such a nice windfall.

    I also think there’s a LILLLL too much sniping in the comments thread. If you don’t agree with the FBB’s mission, don’t give. Problem solved. Or, start your own foundation, even more problems solved!

    I really like the FBB. I also like what we attempted to do here.

    Not to sweep under the rug the gay rights issues, and the conflict that this brought up. I felt conflicted as well.

    What I felt was that we put forward a gesture of goodwill. At the end of the day, it’s that gesture that counts.

  • I still think the sentiment was well placed even if they didn’t need the money. I’ve seen a few adverse comments on Twitter about how it wasn’t atheists fault and not our responsibility. But whether or not that is factually true the gesture should prove something to the people who think we are an evil hedonistic bunch. To anyone who donated cash, FBB is a good home for your money. I’m a member and would encourage anyone here who isn’t to join.

  • Rex

    I chipped in because I thought it was the right thing to do, and I still think so.

    The goodwill that was generated from this effort is exactly the kind of thing that we as a group should be actively embracing and promoting.

    I am actually happier with my donation now that it is going to FBB though.

  • Val

    Anyone who says the Foundation is “supporting faith” really doesn’t understand how we operate.

    Anyone who says the Foundation ISN’T “supporting faith” really doesn’t understand how they operate.

    See what I did there?

    You can only argue that they don’t support faith if you believe that there are religions that don’t proselytize. I don’t believe that, so the distinction is meaningless to me.

  • You can only argue that they don’t support faith if you believe that there are religions that don’t proselytize. I don’t believe that, so the distinction is meaningless to me.

    When’s the last time a Jew tried to proselytize you? How about a Wiccan? I’m not completely certain about the Judaism, but proselytizing just isn’t a part of Wicca.

  • Claudia

    If you aren’t sufficiently assured by FBB’s policies on the one category involving theists, then don’t give in that category.

    If you disapprove so strongly that the FBB gives donors the option of giving a fraction of their money to a theist group, no matter how seemingly benign and vetted, then don’t give through the FBB.

    If you are so opposed to anything touching, something that may maybe eventually partly go to an organization that may end up using some form of that money to promote religion that you are angered by the idea of other secularists donating, then I really have nothing to say. Maybe purity is lovely, but it’s definitely lonely.

    Me, as soon as I can get proper employment again I’ll decide whether I’ll become a FBB or MSF member.

  • Stogoe

    If you aren’t sufficiently assured by FBB’s policies on the one category involving theists, then don’t give in that category.

    Nobody was given that choice on the ChipIn widget for donations to the ex-gay promoting hate church. Just so’s you know.

  • ewan

    It’s not just about what FBB actually does, since people can always choose not to give money to an organisation that does things they disapprove of. It’s about describing FBB’s activity as being:

    the organization helps non-theists give to a variety of secular charities

    When it actually helps to give to secular charities, and religious ones. A religious charity doing ‘secular work’ is still a religious charity.

  • Claudia

    Nobody was given that choice on the ChipIn widget for donations to the ex-gay promoting hate church. Just so’s you know.

    No, it was clearly stated that money would go to a contractor (not to the church, as you said) for the repairs and that any excess money would go to the Foundation Beyond Belief. Though I suppose Hemant could have clarified (had anyone asked the question) that it would go to administrative costs instead of, say, being equally distributed in each category. However I’m going to hazard a guess that anyone who didn’t want even the posibility of their money partly going to a liberal theist charity would be someone who wasn’t about to contribute to the clean-up anyway.
    “Well I’d certainly contribute to the clean-up at these churches, but I can’t donate if some of my money may end up in the Foundation Beyond Belief “Challenge the Gap” section!” I’m really not seeing it.

    People who have concerns or wouldn’t contribute either to the clean-up or to FBB are free to not contribute to either. The way this has blown up, you would think it was an obligatory payment.

  • This makes me think about a dilemma I had with the Google Adsense ads on my Atheist blog and how they are, in a sense, supporting Christian groups, churches, and authors etc.

    Though there are many good people who are religious, I find it hard to justify having their ads displayed on my site. For example, I’m sure people know that Google displays Adsense (text and image) ads on a publishers/bloggers site relative to that site’s content.

    Since my blog is about Atheism, religion and philosophy, many of the ads displayed by Google are Christian adverts for churches, foundations and such. I’m not sure I want to direct traffic to their site because it supports their proselytizing and “spreading” the word. I don’t support religion, so why would I direct traffic there?

    The flip side of that coin is that is costs them money every time someone clicks on their ad from my blog so I can get some satisfaction from that, as well as the fact I get a percentage of those funds, which of course go to support my blog.

    So, the dilemma is, do I allow the ads by accepting the cash thereby indirectly supporting their religion? Is it possible I’m losing a bit of my integrity by allowing the ads and accepting the cash? Or do I block their domains and adverts from displaying on my site, thereby refusing to support their religious proselytizing by not sending people to their sites? (so I block the domains and ads as I notice them)

    This is similar to helping these churches in Bend, Oregon which were vandalized. I’m of the opinion that helping them fix the problem is noble and should be done if they would allow it. But, it’s not surprising that they turned down the offer to help considering who offered it.

    Nice gesture, but I think it’s probably better that they turned the money down. What counts is that the Atheist community stepped up to the plate to do the right thing for the right reasons at the right time.

    We can be proud of that.

  • Val


    For having nothing to say, you sure do keep saying stuff, don’t you?

  • Claudia

    @Val, love you too, sweetie. Hugs and Rainbows! *^_^*

  • I think the gesture was a very noble idea and I am proud of the atheist community for stepping up for our fellow humans.

    Sometimes we think too much and we analyze every detail of every gesture. In this case, it was just the right thing to do / from one human to another. It also showed that we as atheists do not condone this type of hate crime.

    Great job!

  • Ibis

    Thanks for providing more info about FBB policy in this post. However, it seems like you’re saying that anyone who has a problem with the way FBB operates is either confused, ignorant, or bigoted. This is disingenuous. Can’t you just accept that not everyone feels comfortable with the current policy of FBB, so when soliciting support, explain the policy without trying to manipulate anyone* or disparage dissenters? Obviously, there are lots of people who like what FBB is doing. There’s no need to prevaricate.

    *saying that the Challenge the Gap charity is “a charity run by an interfaith or theistic group doing entirely secular work” is begging the question–that’s the very point on which the disagreement rests.

  • So the FBB, created specifically to facilitate giving to secular charities, is now serving religious ones also? That’s weird.

  • If you want to eliminate the funding to interfaith groups in the gap category, then you should start a secular group that does that work. Believe me, there are plenty of social service people who would love to work at such places.

  • Liz


    Claudia actually added interesting points to the discussion and actually expressed her opinion. Where as, you simply copy-pasted something Hemant said, changed a word and said, “see what I did there?”

    I do see what you did there. You used a cheap and easy way of commenting on a topic, which quite frankly did not get your point across but only made you seem unintelligent and lacking in creativity.

  • Hemant, you are a hypocrite exploiting this opportunity to increase FBB’s coffers and promote your public persona and I just have to express my disgust at it.

    How many people besides me have you unfriended on FB for disagreeing with you on this blog?

  • Tessa

    This whole discussion about whether FBB should give to “interfaith” charities reminds me of arguments I’ve heard for stripping Planned Parenthood of all funding.

    Even though government funds do not go to abortions, some people believe that giving any funds to Planned Parenthood would result in supporting abortion.

    It seems like some people here are using a similar argument to say that any money given to religious groups is bad, even if it’s not used for proselytizing. But I think this ignores the fact that these groups do a lot of good.

    While I’m not sure about the church graffiti thing, I completely support FBB and love the fact that they give you the opportunity to opt out of the Challenge the Gap category.

  • Tessa

    oh, and is someone getting 130 entries for the iPad? 😉

  • YouNameIsJimJones

    Is this website and foundation a joke? Do people not see it’s a wanna be atheist pushing a religious agenda of some sort, prolly trying to ‘get right with god’ in his mind, somehow? Not a foxhole atheist, I guess you could say. What’s with the “oops we donated to a rank religious organization before” apologies and back pedaling links, and the giving to religious foundations– those that demean the GLBT community?

    How many people on here are merely desperately in need of FOLLOWING somebody? Follow your self. Get educated. Be a good person. And for sure watch who you align with. They just raised money saying it was for a CHURCH then said, oops again! We’ll just keep the money for ourselves. This outfit needs to be reported to the IRS and heavily audited if it hasn’t been already. Mamma Mia! Mia Culpa!

    “Splish splash I was Jim Jones!”

  • Kenny


  • Secular means activities and attitudes that have no religious basis. A church is capable of doing secular work. They may feed the hungry, house the homeless, provide education or medical aid for those in need, all without a shred of religion involved. Sure, many if not the vast majority sugar coat this with religion and some truly wicked churches help others only if they smell a convert or serve those of the faith.

    We are atheists. That doesn’t mean that we are anti-theists. Some of us may be but the terms aren’t synonymous. Surely we can recognise that a church, despite the bad parts, can have good parts as well. By supporting the secular activities of a church we exploit the good that they can do and channel it to where we see that it is most needed.

    I had a problem with helping a church resolve a problem that we had no part in when they had the resources to solve the problem themselves. I felt that it was giving to a church despite assurances that it was only to correct the damage done by others. The good press is a bonus that wasn’t expected and I honestly thought that the opposite would come out. This is completely different though. Giving to a secular cause run by a religious organisation is still giving to a secular cause. I have no problem with that at all.

  • Just because a religious organization is involved in social work, doesn’t mean its services don’t come with a generous helping of unwanted proselytism, and guarantees to the contrary should be taken with a grain of salt. In my neck of the woods, the evangelicals who volunteer for the school district publicly insist they aren’t out to preach at the kids, but when I wrote as a, “Christian,” to inquire about the program, its director wrote back to tell me flat out it was all about, “sharing the Good News.”

    Yes, I know this won’t be the case with every religious charity, but the sectarian character of these organizations shouldn’t be ignored. If it weren’t significant, they would cease to be religious charities and would simply become charities with some religious members. Regardless of the work involved though, or whether or not there is overt proselytism, religion, by its association with, “good works,” still takes credit owed, in fact, to human initiative.

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