David Quinn asks Where are the Atheist charities

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bipedalhumanoid
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David Quinn asks Where are the Atheist charities

Post by bipedalhumanoid » Fri Dec 05, 2008 10:42 am

By David Quinn

Thou shalt not take thy local charity for granted

Friday December 05 2008

UNEMPLOYMENT has almost doubled in a year. Brian Lenihan says we're living beyond our means -- and he's right.

Tax revenues continue to collapse. What's the answer?

One small one is to stop taking for granted the religious among us because they are the ones we can count on to be charitable and the need for charitable people grows by the day.

Earlier this week we discovered that demand for help from the Society of St Vincent de Paul has risen so far, so fast, that they are literally running out of money.

In the greater Dublin area there has been a 44pc increase in calls for help compared with last year. There has been a 36pc increase in Cork, and a 30pc increase in the mid-west.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul is precisely one of those organisations we take for granted.

We're glad to have it there. We commend its members. But in all honesty we don't give it half enough credit nor do we think to credit the religious motivation of those who raise the money, visit the sick and the elderly and disburse the money and other help to those who need it.

In particular we take the religious motivation for granted. Atheist and polemicist extraordinaire Christopher Hitchens is fond of asking religious believers to name a single good thing they do that atheists can't do. In other words, to name something beneficial that the world would lose if religious believers were to vanish from the face of it.

Well, one thing we would lose, or which would certainly greatly diminish, is the charitable impulse.

Roy Hattersley, the former British Labour MP, is one atheist who would probably concede this point.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he noted the absence of 'free thinkers' and atheists from among the volunteers helping out in the aftermath of the disaster.

He saw that the Red Cross was on the ground in big numbers. He saw that the Salvation Army was on the ground in big numbers.

He might have observed that numerous Christian churches opened their doors to take in families whose homes had been flooded. Many ordinary Christians opened their homes.

Hattersley wrote at the time: "The Salvation Army has been given a special status as provider-in-chief of American disaster relief. But its work is being augmented by all sorts of other groups.

"Almost all of them have a religious origin and character.

"Notable by their absence are teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers' clubs and atheists' associations -- the sort of people who not only scoff at religion's intellectual absurdity but also regard it as a positive force for evil."

The fact is that the charitable impulse is stronger among religious people than among non-religious people. And yes of course, there are lots and lots of exceptions.

There are extremely generous atheists and incredibly mean-minded, tight-fisted Christians.

But where in Ireland, or anywhere else for that matter, is the 'rationalist' version of the Society of St Vincent de Paul or the Salvation Army? I don't see it. Hattersley is right.

There is an ever growing body of data testifying to the relative generosity of religious believers compared with their secular counterparts.

For example, in America religious believers earn 6pc less on average than those who rarely or never attend church but they give 30pc more to charity.

They are also more likely to be involved in charitable work and they give more time to charitable work.

Irish census data backs up this.

One in 10 Catholics help out charitable organisations or their own church.

The figure among Church of Ireland members and Presbyterians is much higher at 17pc. They are far more likely to help out their local church than Catholics, probably because they have a longer history of lay involvement and are less clerical.

The census data makes no distinction between practising and non-practising Christians. You can be sure that levels of volunteerism are higher among practising Christians.

The census also looks at levels of volunteerism among those with no stated religion.

Among this group only 6pc are involved in charitable work. So the Catholic figure is 50pc higher and the Protestant figure is three times higher. Admittedly, the figure for the non-religious improves when other forms of voluntary activity are thrown in, for example, sport. But this isn't the same as charity.

So the question is, who is more likely to help out when the going gets tough, the religious person or the non-religious person? In general, it's going to be the former.

We have had great fun throwing off at the churches, at religion, at religious believers right through the years of the Celtic Tiger.

In doing so, we were content to overlook the tremendous value to society of religious believers.

If you still find yourself resisting such an idea, why not ask the victims of Hurricane Katrina for their opinion. Better still, ask the victims of the recession who, this very night, will have one of the 9,500 members of the Society of St Vincent de Paul calling to their door.

dquinn@independent.ie
http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analy ... 64480.html
bipedalhumanoid
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Post by bipedalhumanoid » Fri Dec 05, 2008 11:21 am

The religious commentators are really gearing up to milk this recession for all they can. They know damn well that harsh times fill churches.

A few things come to mind in relation to a potential response...

1) The two individuals who have given more money to charity than anyone else in history are both atheists.

2) Quinn assumes that non-believers don't give money to religious charities. I can't speak for anyone else but I've given to SVDP et al plenty of times.

3) In terms of volunteerism, he says himself that non-believers are bigger earners. Surely that means more demanding jobs and less time to volunteer... and given that we only make up about 5% of the population how many does he actually expect to see on the saint vinnies beat? And how would he identify them as non-believers?

4) It seems to me that expecting a 'rationalist society' to set up charities is just like expecting a chess club to set up charities. The fact that they don't tend to set up charities doesn't mean their individual members don't support existing charities.

5) Where are these atheist/rationalist societies he expects to see setting up charities anyway? I was of the opinion that there weren't any in Ireland and that's why we were setting up Atheist Ireland from scratch

6) He seems to forget about all of the secular charities when it's convenient to him. When looking for something to compare against his religious charities he seeks Atheist charities.
egbrennan
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Post by egbrennan » Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:17 pm

Here's a peice of info for m'learned friend (or soon to be):
For two years I was a volunteer in Synge Street SVP. During that time I was never once involved in an activity of the society which involved religion. In fact I didn't think it had anything to do with religion, I assumed it was just named after some religious bloke. Even now I know many people who are volunteers for the society and while they may not be as atheist as me, they get involved for non-religious reasons. I was also in the Legion of Mary but that was mostly because I fancied some young-wan in it.

As usual Quinn is full of shite.

Ed.
FXR
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Post by FXR » Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:42 pm

Note: this is what you're up against. This is not some clown waffling in the middle of O'Connell st. This is a clown waffling as a corespondent of one of the biggest selling newspapers in Ireland.

This is a case of misrepsenting facts which, while is might be obvious here, makes sense to many casual readers who by tomorrow will only remember "where are the athest charitys."

If this was buried in Alive or Irish Catholic it would be one thing but carried in the Independant it's a much bigger problem alltogether.

He neatly forgets that real charity does'nt have the ulterior motive of recruiting people into a religion and does'nt hand the food over with lies like "condoms don't work".
Human communication is a very rickety rope bridge between minds. Its too narrow to allow but a few thoughts to cross at a time. Many are lost in the chasms of noise, suspicion, misinterpretation and shooting the message through dislike of the messenger.
bipedalhumanoid
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Post by bipedalhumanoid » Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:50 pm

Man did I have trouble getting this letter under 2 pages...
I wrote: Dear Editor,


Is David Quinn ("Thou shalt not take thy local charity for granted", Irish Independent, December 5) not aware that the two most charitable people in the entire history of our planet are both Atheists? Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have donated a combined total of $89 Billion in recent years. These incredible acts of generosity are made even nobler by the fact that neither of these men is expecting a reward for their charity in the afterlife.



Last time I donated money to St Vincent de Paul I wasn't asked about my stance in relation to the existence of supernatural deities. This leads me to ask how David Quinn could possibly know that Atheists are any less charitable than believers.



As for our lack of volunteerism, Mr Quinn openly admits that non-believers on average tend to be higher earners. Did he consider the possibility that we tend to have careers that are more demanding on our time?



He then goes on to ask where all of the Atheist charities are. Given that Atheism is ultimately just a philosophical stance, I'd ask where is his criticism of the existentialists, utilitarians and stamp collectors for not starting charitable organisations?



The fact of the matter is that most charities, whether secular or religious, rely on the generosity of believers, non-believers, existentialists and stamp collectors alike. Mr Quinn has presented a very poor case for his belief that the religious have a monopoly on "charitable impulse".
FXR
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Post by FXR » Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:54 pm

bipedalhumanoid wrote:Man did I have trouble getting this letter under 2 pages...
I wrote: Dear Editor,


Is David Quinn ("Thou shalt not take thy local charity for granted", Irish Independent, December 5) not aware that the two most charitable people in the entire history of our planet are both Atheists? Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have donated a combined total of $89 Billion in recent years. These incredible acts of generosity are made even nobler by the fact that neither of these men is expecting a reward for their charity in the afterlife.



Last time I donated money to St Vincent de Paul I wasn't asked about my stance in relation to the existence of supernatural deities. This leads me to ask how David Quinn could possibly know that Atheists are any less charitable than believers.



As for our lack of volunteerism, Mr Quinn openly admits that non-believers on average tend to be higher earners. Did he consider the possibility that we tend to have careers that are more demanding on our time?



He then goes on to ask where all of the Atheist charities are. Given that Atheism is ultimately just a philosophical stance, I'd ask where is his criticism of the existentialists, utilitarians and stamp collectors for not starting charitable organisations?



The fact of the matter is that most charities, whether secular or religious, rely on the generosity of believers, non-believers, existentialists and stamp collectors alike. Mr Quinn has presented a very poor case for his belief that the religious have a monopoly on "charitable impulse".
Thats the intelligent equivalent of throwing boiling water on a noisy cat.
Human communication is a very rickety rope bridge between minds. Its too narrow to allow but a few thoughts to cross at a time. Many are lost in the chasms of noise, suspicion, misinterpretation and shooting the message through dislike of the messenger.
nozzferrahhtoo
Atheist Ireland Member
Atheist Ireland Member
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Post by nozzferrahhtoo » Fri Dec 05, 2008 3:01 pm

Your use of imagery will probabaly never fail to bring a smile to my face each day.
bipedalhumanoid
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Post by bipedalhumanoid » Fri Dec 05, 2008 3:04 pm

FXR wrote:
Thats the intelligent equivalent of throwing boiling water on a noisy cat.
Yeah thanks a heap for the constructive criticism. It was the intelligent equivalent of me telling you to go fuck yourself.
lostexpectation
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Post by lostexpectation » Fri Dec 05, 2008 3:09 pm

is there not some recent study to show that non-religious give less money ?(not that dq sites it to back up his point)

there might be some reason for that in this article

here john waters saying charity is better then social justice

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opi ... 45147.html

JW should really introduce himself to that catholic charity trocaire who do alot on social justice these days.
Last edited by lostexpectation on Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:12 pm, edited 4 times in total.
test
FXR
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Post by FXR » Fri Dec 05, 2008 3:22 pm

bipedalhumanoid wrote:
FXR wrote:
Thats the intelligent equivalent of throwing boiling water on a noisy cat.
Yeah thanks a heap for the constructive criticism. It was the intelligent equivalent of me telling you to go fuck yourself.
That was a compliment Bip. I think you've got the wrong end of the stick. I was alluding to the fact your argument stripped his bare (as in took the fucking fur off his back)
Sorry if it did'nt come out the way I meant it. I'll have to write a book on understanding Irish humour if this keeps up.
Human communication is a very rickety rope bridge between minds. Its too narrow to allow but a few thoughts to cross at a time. Many are lost in the chasms of noise, suspicion, misinterpretation and shooting the message through dislike of the messenger.
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