Last month, Catholic blogger Rebecca Hamilton made a really nasty accusation against people who didn’t believe in her God, suggesting they could never seriously help other people in times of need:
Christians, unlike their critics, build hospitals and schools, go on missions to help those in need where help is needed. Christians donate massive amounts of money to aid those in need. They run toward disasters, rather than away from them, to give aid and comfort.
These people were not paid for their efforts. No one asked them to do it. They simply responded to need because that is what Our Lord told them to do.
In all these things, the difference is Jesus.
She won’t admit it because it would ruin her narrative, but this is obviously, objectively, and harmfully wrong.
If anyone made similar accusations about any other group of people, maybe there would be a bigger outcry, but we’re used to this kind of anti-atheist prejudice. No doubt there are good religious charities out there, but there’s no lack of openly non-religious ones either.
Instead of pointing you to the myriad organizations that do good work explicitly without God, I asked Hemley Gonzalez to respond to her.
Hemley is the founder of the Humanist group Responsible Charity and literally works in the slums of India to improve lives.
This is what he told me (via email, with slight edits):
What a preposterous claim, the grandstanding statement that “Christian” charities are the only NGOs making a difference in India.
Such a proclamation might even be believed if it weren’t for the fact that, in reality, it is the combined effort of global secular charities AND the government of India actually doing the bulk of the real social work. India has about 1 million grassroots groups ranging from Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, and Christian groups — to secular charities.
Thousands of people wake up daily and do amazing work in the areas of education, birth control, family planning, self sustainability, and medical assistance for more than half a billion human beings living in poverty, and they do so without fanfare or proselytizing dogma.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested millions of dollars in the country in the last decade alone and has created programs and ways for the government of India to deal with HIV/AIDS and Malaria directly. In contrast, many Christian charities have actually presented a hindrance to the progress and overall health and future of the Indian population by denying much needed services, such as birth control, due to their anachronistic and regressive views on a woman’s right to choose and gender equality. They can thank Jesus for that, but India has very little to be grateful for when it comes to such quid pro quo assistance. There are even worse cases of guerrilla tactics employ by some Christian missionaries looking to convert others to their religion as in the case of “Rice Christians.” (Go ahead. Google it and cringe.)
A perfect example of Christian interference in the progress and fight against poverty is Mother Teresa’s organization: The Missionaries of Charity. The late nun’s staunch views on abortion, birth control, education, and women equality are at the core of their regressive work with the poor. To make matters worse, this is also an organization that has collected millions of dollars in donations for decades but patently refuses to publish their finances and show exactly how such funds have been used.
One only needs to visit one of the dozen homes they have in India to realize that something is terribly wrong. Many of their so called “hospices” and “dispensaries” are substandard outlets of shame to the international medical community, certainly not the best work that millions of dollars in donation could produce. The world can thank the Vatican for their brilliant PR campaign as thy effectively sold this notion that Mother Teresa was in India to combat poverty, when in fact fueling poverty has been the only thing keeping this organization afloat. You can find more information about the ongoing investigation of this medically negligent and financially fraudulent Catholic charity here.
So when a so-called “Christian” voices that Jesus is doing more than anyone to help the poor in India, simply remember that for far too long we’ve allowed religion to hold a monopoly on compassion by not speaking up or questioning their claims. The times have changed, and the world is undoubtedly welcoming the reason, clarity, and results that secular and Humanist charities are bringing to those in need. Because it is the right thing to do, the human thing to do, regardless of what our beliefs of afterlife or a Creator may or may not be.
If Rebecca Hamilton wants to make up for her glaring and spiteful error, I suggest she make a donation, too.