The Friendly Atheist covers a Times cover story that doesn’t quite cover the whole story. No surprise, since the topic is atheism.
The topic is the Oklahoma tornadoes, which devastated the area and created a large wave of public support. Whether people donated online, or physically appeared to do work in the area, many people have done what they can to help Oklahoma relief.
Of course the Times has a story that quotes Times writer Joe Klein saying, “funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals.”
The Friendly Atheist, a better writer than I, proceeds to list humanist and atheist organizations that were doing exactly that, and more.
Why is it that atheist and humanist organizations get overlooked so often? If you’ve ever been in a conversation about religion as an institution, you may have heard charity brought up in defense of religion. It is true, churches give a lot to charity, and they create wonderful volunteer efforts. I believe most people hope that charity is done because those people want to give, not because they are religious. Would Christians (and others) stop giving if they were not regularly going to church? Are they such devoted Christians because of their love for volunteering and charity?
Considering there are atheist and humanist organizations devoted to the same causes, without a belief in an afterlife, or supernatural rewards for good behavior, it seems we can say there is at least some internal drive in humanity to help our fellows with or without a god. Yet, you won’t hear a news story about Foundation Beyond Belief, or Atheist Giving Aid.
I won’t say there isn’t an element of media bias against such groups, but I also don’t think we have a conspiracy on our hands. These groups are definitely smaller than their religious brothers, and don’t have the history of attracting the spotlight. All of this could definitely come in time, with continuous dedication.
In the meantime I agree with Hemant Mehta, if this article said the same about any group but atheists, the article would be torn down. That is something to think about.