Remember the story of an atheist who tried to give thousands and thousands of dollars to a Christian children’s home in Oklahoma, only to have them reject the cash because he didn’t share their faith?
The Murrow Indian Children’s Home initially rejected Matt Wilbourn‘s donation of $100 on behalf of the Muskogee Atheist Community (which he and his wife Keli co-founded). Later, they rejected the $25,667.80 he raised for them online. All because the religious leaders said accepting money from atheists would “go against everything they believe in.” Matt didn’t ask for any special treatment, but he assumed they would thank his atheist group publicly (in a program for a charity event) just as they did with all their other donors. They didn’t want to do that. Matt eventually donated the money to Camp Quest Oklahoma, so that children would still be the beneficiaries of atheist generosity.
Okay. That’s the long and short of what happened this past fall.
For whatever reason, Heat Street, a conservative-leaning news site, wrote about the story yesterday, as if this was all breaking news. Writer Ian Miles Cheong got the facts right, but he included this bizarre commentary at the end of it:
Aside from Camp Quest, there are no real saints in this story. Wilbourn used the Murrow Indian Children’s Home to boost publicity for his atheist agenda, and the charity, perhaps selfishly, refused to accept the donations, which would have ultimately helped the children who live there.
Be better than this.
This is what false equivalency looks like.
In an attempt to be above it all, Cheong pretends both sides are guilty of doing something selfish when that’s not the case at all. Matt didn’t look for any sort of publicity. He gave his initial $100 donation on behalf of his group with the assumption that the charity would accept it and treat it like every other donation.
When they refused to do that, he figured raising more money on behalf of atheists would convince the group that atheists were not these monsters, they would accept the money, and it’d be a win-win for everyone, especially the children. They refused to do that, too, because helping the kids in their care wasn’t a top priority for them.
If Matt and his group got any publicity from this, it’s only because the Christians were so unreasonable by rejecting this act of kindness. Not because Matt sought it out. And let’s admit: the publicity that resulted was important, because it showed how Christians can let their irrational beliefs get in the way of their rational actions. That’s a story that needs to be told.
That publicity, Cheong said, was part of Matt’s plan to boost his “atheist agenda.” What the hell is the agenda? Being kind, generous, and awesome?
And what’s with that last line? “Be better than this”?! Maybe that’s a motto they should hang by the front entrance of the Murrow Indian Children’s Home. Matt and the atheists who donated were better, and they’re still treated like shit by a conservative writer who can’t admit that the Christians in this story — and only them — were guilty of doing anything selfish.