Monday, December 10, 2012

Charitable Giving - As An Atheist

My company has a great program, called, "Jeans for Dollars."  In return for $5 a week out of an employee's paycheck, said employee can wear jeans to work on Fridays.  The $5 gets combined with all the other $5, and a check is written each week to a different local charity. It's an optional thing, no one is pressured to participate. For the first 3 years of my employment here, I elected not to participate.  Even during the time when I was on the committee that managed the list of 52 charities.  My problem was always that the list was chocked full of religious leaning charities. Faith based charities, church organized outreach, whatever you want to call them.  It seemed like there wasn't anyone in this area doing charitable works without needing Jebus along to proselytize.

I wasn't interested in sending my money to religious based organizations.  In my opinion, the harm done by religions far outweighs the good their charitable arms do.
I feel like fewer women would need rescue shelters if fewer of them followed church doctrine.  Telling women they are inferior to men. Telling women to stay home and raise as many kids as possible, preaching against practical birth control options.  Telling women not to pursue education or careers. Telling women not to speak or teach as those are men's roles, yes, that IS still happening.
All of that just leads to women who have far fewer options when the Shit Hits the Fan; when Lord-Husband becomes abusive, or a user, or just has the bad luck to die.  I don't want to imply that running a family and keeping house are easy, or not hard work, they are. But, they don't translate well into jobs that can support said family. Especially when the person in question has no other training or certifications.
I feel like you can't, as an organization, intentionally and systematically limit and debase an entire HALF of the population, and then turn around and want accolades for, "All the good we do."

Where was I? Oh, right, the company program. My plan was to find a few secular charities in the area and either get them on the list, or just send them my money directly. Sadly, no such charities exists in the area.  This is a really religious corner of the upper midwest.
Additionally, my wardrobe has shifted a little since baby #2, and I have some better fitting jeans than I do work slacks. Winter is closing in, and jeans are warmer than my work slacks.
All of this combined to convince me to finally sign up for the program.  I try to convince myself that in the trenches of poverty and addiction, maybe these organizations are actually doing some good. Some of them provide food for women and kids, some provide emergency housing.  If they are more Christian than I'm comfortable with, well, maybe I can live with that for now.  And maybe I'll rethink things once summer comes around and I'll remove my $5 from the program.  :-D Stay tuned for further developments.

Here are some excellent secular charities, for those interested in charitable giving before the end of the year.

Camp Quest - a secular kids camp, they have scholarships for kids who might not otherwise get summer camp experience.

Foundation Beyond Belief - They aggregate charitable giving by humanists and atheists and give funds to a set of causes/charities every quarter.

Burners Without Borders - the usual "without borders" deal, a group of people interested in volunteering to help others. They take donations of money and time.


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