Thursday, 26 August 2010

Non-Believers Give Aid Too! by Tulpesh Patel

In the letters section of the Metro newspaper this morning, I read an interesting discussion on charitable aid, particularly for the Pakistan flood disaster. What irked me were the accusations that whilst there was a Christian Aid, there wasn't an Atheist Aid, ergo non-religious folk are tight-fisted and uncaring. What utter rubbish.

Non-Believers Giving Aid was set up with the aids of Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) in response to the January 2010 Haiti earthquake disaster as an umbrella organisations for people to donate much needed money, whilst also countering the idea that charity comes only through loving God. PZ Myers wrote a great blog about it's inception, so I won't cover old ground.

The RDFRS are once more partnering with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, this time to bring much needed help to people whose lives have been torn apart by the floods in Pakistan. You can donate here and I urge you to do so. It is especially important given the aid that is still needed and the responses of some countries to the disaster. There have been suggestions in some quarters that Pakistan isn't getting the aid it needs because of the baggage that the country has in the eyes of Westerners, which, sadly, may not be wholly unfounded.

It's dangerous to affiliate charitable intentions with belief or your general worldview (which is exactly what religious folk often do), and, of course, the best kind of charity goes unspoken, but Non-Believers Giving Aid is important in counteracting the common idea that not believing in god equates to being an uncaring, amoral nihilist. 

As well as giving Non-Believers Giving Aid a well deserved plug, now's a good a time as any to mention that some of the Aston Humanists are also doing their bit for Charity in the next couple of months!

In the 2009/2010 academic year the Aston Humanist Society raised over £500 for various charities including Amnesty International (AmnesTea Party) and CRUK (Relay for Life) and we're hoping to double that this year. James is running the Birmingham Half Marathon  to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières: I'm running the race with him to raise money for the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charities: and also the CRUK 10km Race for Life in September:

This is not about patting ourselves on the back or feeling virtuous: What's really important is that those that can help do their bit to support the great work that lots of charities do. Proving the point that godless people care is just a bonus.


  1. I've sponsored you and James for the half marathon and I'd already sponsored your 10k run! I really agree with this blog post - I do a lot for charity and it's not because I am trying to earn brownie points to get into heaven!

  2. I'm not really in favour of this campaign. I don't agree with faith charities any more than I agree with faith schools. So I don't agree with atheist charities or atheist schools. There are plenty of secular schools and there are plenty of secular charities, and these deserve our support.

  3. Hi Adrian, thanks for visiting and leaving a comment!

    I think the point of Non-Believers Giving Aid is not that it is a charity per se, say for example like Christian Aid, but that it organises money to (secular) humanitarian charities like Medicin Sans Frontieres.

    It would be abhorrent if NBGA became an issue of exclusivity, as it is with faith schools, i.e. proposed restrictions on who directly benefited from the money. Ideally, NBGA shouldn't have to exist, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of people associate morality/charity with religion, and if you're going to support a charity like MSF, I can't see how going through NBGA is a bad thing.

  4. I've been a long-time supporter of lots of charities - including some with religious affiliations (such as Oxfam). But given the choice I'd now prefer to make donations under an atheist guise just to counter the completely baseless claims that only the religious support charity.

    And thanks for the link to the Dawkins foundation appeal for Pakistan... :-)

  5. I find it very sad and frustrating that people of faith frequently find it difficult to grasp the idea that those free from faith can have and act upon a strong sense of morality. And how much simpler and fairer is a morality which doesn't have to be viewed through the cataract of archaic prejudices! Whilst I understand Adrian's point, PZ Myers outlines some very good reasons for donating through Non-Believers Giving Aid.