Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope my vast readership had a great New Year's Eve and is enjoying the new year. We rang in the new year with some dear friends.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to be more generous with donating money. I make more than enough for my family to live comfortably, and it is only right that I share my good fortune with those less fortunate than we are.

Many people criticize atheists for not giving money to charity, and it is in fact true that on average, individual religious people give more money to charity than individual atheists do. I think this is at least in part because religious people have a built-in method of giving: that collection plate gets passed around every Sunday. But also, it is hard for atheists to find charities that they agree with ethically and morally.

For example, I'm completely in favor of alleviating poverty in the developing world, but many charitable organizations also proselytize, and I am morally opposed to that. I'm also in favor of reducing homelessness in this country, but the Salvation Army actively discriminates against gays, so I cannot support their organization. It would be nice to be able to contribute to a charity that I can trust to spend my money wisely.

Fortunately, my wishes have come true, and there is now the Foundation Beyond Belief. It features ten charitable organizations per quarter, to which members can assign percentages of their monthly donations. These featured beneficiaries can be founded on any worldview as long as they don't proselytize, and members can nominate potential beneficiaries to the foundation. There's also an educational arm of the foundation, which provides resources for atheist and humanist parents to educate their children about many things, including ethics and religious literacy.

The Foundation Beyond Belief was the brainchild of Dale McGowan, who is the touchiest-feeliest atheist I know of (and Dale, if you're reading this, that is a compliment!). I've never met him, but from reading his books (Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers) and his blog The Meming of Life, he seems like an absolutely wonderful person with a strong moral and ethical backbone and a desire to do good in this world. Those are traits (I like to think that) I share with him, so this Foundation really is a dream come true for me too -- a simple way for me to be sure that my donation dollars are really going to what I want them to go for.

I plan to support the foundation this year, and I encourage anyone else looking for a good home for their charitable donation dollars to do so as well!


ScienceGirl said...

Happy New Year to you too!

I am not sure I consider a donation to a cushy lifestyle of a pastor all that charitable. Glad you found a good outlet for your donations, and thanks for those links - I have been looking for resources on raising my little one outside of a church.

P.S. I fell asleep before midnight on New Year's Eve - I feel so old! (Or can I blame it on the pregnancy?)

Rebecca said...

ScienceGirl, I agree with you in questioning where that money goes; nevertheless, more money leaves religious people's pockets.

As for falling asleep before midnight -- I think you can blame pregnancy. You'll be blaming that little one for disrupting your schedule after s/he is born, so why not start now?