Atheism and charity

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Most atheists likely live in East Asia (see: Asian atheism).

A beggar in Cambodia. In Cambodia, the vast majority of the population adheres to a nontheistic form of Buddhism called the Theravada school of Buddhism.

A comprehensive study by Harvard University professor Robert Putnam found that religious people are more charitable than their irreligious counterparts.[1]

Concerning the issue of atheism and charity, charitable giving by atheists and agnostics in America is significantly less than by theists, according to a study by the Barna Group:

The typical no-faith American donated just $200 in 2006, which is more than seven times less than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500). Even when church-based giving is subtracted from the equation, active-faith adults donated twice as many dollars last year as did atheists and agnostics. In fact, while just 7% of active-faith adults failed to contribute any personal funds in 2006, that compares with 22% among the no-faith adults.[2]

A comprehensive study by Harvard University professor Robert Putnam found that religious people are more charitable than their irreligious counterparts.[3][4] The study revealed that forty percent of worship service attending Americans volunteer regularly to help the poor and elderly as opposed to 15% of Americans who never attend services.[3][4] Moreover, religious individuals are more likely than non-religious individuals to volunteer for school and youth programs (36% vs. 15%), a neighborhood or civic group (26% vs. 13%), and for health care (21% vs. 13%).[3][4]

Arthur C. Brooks wrote in Policy Review regarding data collected in the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (SCCBS) (data collected by in 2000 by researchers at universities throughout the United States and the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research):

The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent to 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent to 44 percent). And, consistent with the findings of other writers, these data show that practicing a religion is more important than the actual religion itself in predicting charitable behavior. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92 percent of Protestants give charitably, compared with 91 percent of Catholics, 91 percent of Jews, and 89 percent from other religions.[5]

ABC News reported:

...the single biggest predictor of whether someone will be charitable is their religious participation.

Religious people are more likely to give to charity, and when they give, they give more money: four times as much. And Arthur Brooks told me that giving goes beyond their own religious organization:

"Actually, the truth is that they're giving to more than their churches," he says. "The religious Americans are more likely to give to every kind of cause and charity, including explicitly non-religious charities."[6]

A graphic from the website Answers for Atheist.[7]

In 2009, Pew Research Forum reported that a comprehensive study by Harvard University professor Robert Putnam found that religious people are more charitable than their irreligious counterparts.[3][4] The study revealed that forty percent of worship service attending Americans volunteer regularly to help the poor and elderly as opposed to 15% of Americans who never attend services.[3][4] Moreover, religious individuals are more likely than non-religious individuals to volunteer for school and youth programs (36% vs. 15%), a neighborhood or civic group (26% vs. 13%), and for health care (21% vs. 13%).[3][4]

Given that atheistic evolutionary thinking has engendered social darwinism and given that the proponents of atheism have no rational basis for morality in their ideology, the immoral views that atheists often hold and the low per capita giving of American atheists is not surprising.

Atheist Hemant Mehta on charity fundraising from fellow nonbelievers

See also: Atheist fundraising vs. religious fundraising and Atheist organizations and fundraising

Secular humanism is a type of atheism.

Foundation Beyond Belief is a charitable foundation created to focus on "humanist generosity and compassion."[8]

The atheist Hemant Mehta said about raising money from fellow nonbelievers: "Meanwhile, I’ve had one hell of a time convincing people to give to the Foundation Beyond Belief — and I help lead that organization." [9]

Lower atheist fundraising and desecularization

See also: Atheist fundraising vs. religious fundraising

The 21st century is expected to be a century of global desecularization and religious organizations significantly outperforming atheist organizations in fundraising will contribute to this matter (see: Atheist fundraising vs. religious fundraising and Causes of desecularization).

Women are less likely to be atheists. Women donate more

Surveys throughout the world and other data indicate that women are less inclined to be atheists (See: Atheism and women).[10] [11]

According to Fortune magazine women donate more to charitable causes than men: “Women are very involved in charitable giving,” explained Nancy Heiser, vice president of wealth management at UBS. “The reasons are simple: Women are living longer, making more money and may be inheriting twice—once from their parents and again if they outlive their spouses.”[12]

See also:

Atheism and lower empathy

African children who received Manna Packs of rice from the Christian relief organization Feed My Starving Children.

The Barna Group found that even when church-based giving is subtracted from the equation, active-faith adults donated twice as many dollars last year as did atheists and agnostics.[2]

See also: Atheism and love and Atheism and narcissism and Atheism and sadism and Atheism and mass murder

In 2007 the Baptist Press reported:

...a pollster at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, found that adults who profess a belief in God are significantly more likely than atheists to say that forgiveness, patience, generosity and a concern for others are "very important." In fact, the poll found that on 11 of 12 values, there was a double-digit gap between theists and atheists, with theists more likely to label each value "very important."

The survey by sociologist and pollster Reginald Bibby examined the beliefs of 1,600 Canadians, 82 percent who said they believed in "God or a higher power" and 18 percent who said they did not.[13]

From a metaphysical, moral and spiritual perspective, atheists have an inability to satisfactorily explain the existence of love.[14][15] See also: Atheism and love and Atheism and social justice

Atheists with social contacts with Christians give more to charity than other atheists

See also: Atheists adopting theistic morality and Protestant cultural legacies

Dr. William Lane Craig points out that the social science research indicates that atheists who have family/social contacts with religious people give more to charity than atheists who do not have such an influence.[16]

Craig, citing research published by author Arthur C. Brooks, points out that atheists raised in religious households are twice as likely to give to charity than those raised in nonreligious households.[16]

Atheist Dr. Melanie Brewster on church attendance and volunteerism/philanthropy

See also: Atheists and church attendance

At the atheist conference Skepticon 7, Dr. Melanie Brewster (who is an atheist herself), indicated that people who attend church at least weekly volunteer and donate more to secular/nonreligious causes than those who attend church rarely or never.[17]

American atheist organizations focus on church/state issues - poor largely ignored

See also: Atheism and racism and Western atheism and race and Atheism and love

There is a significant amount of racism within the atheist population (see: Atheism and racism). This also holds true for atheists in the Western World as well (see: Western atheism and race).

In June 2014, the African-American atheist woman Sikivu Hutchinson wrote in the Washington Post that white atheists organizations in the United States generally focus on church/state separation and creationism issues and not the concerns the less affluent African-American population faces.[18] Hutchinson also mentioned that church organizations do focus on helping poor African Americans.[18]

Atheist activist Lee Moore: Donations to atheist organizations are down due to infighting within the atheist movement

See also: Atheist factions and Atheism and social skills

In 2017, the atheist activist Lee Moore declared:

If you look at the major atheist groups right now, like the national groups, the ones that are doing the real activist work... They are not bringing in the kind of donations they used to. Most of them are starved for cash. They're downsizing left and right. Because people aren't just giving like they used to. And I talked to a lot of the major donors out there and they said, "Well, we're kind of tired of seeing the atheist community just fight amongst itself and not really get anything done. We'd rather not give money if we don't think it's going to go somewhere."[19]

See also: Atheist movement and major donors

Scott Simon of National Public Radio on organized atheism and its small measure of charitable work

Scott Simon of National Public Radio (NPR): "I've covered a lot of wars, famines and tragedies. And it seems to me, truly, every theater of suffering I've ever been to, there is a dauntless nun, priest, clergy or religious person who was working very selflessly and bravely there for the good of human beings. And I don't run into organized groups of atheists who do this."[20]

New atheist Richard Dawkins: "Perhaps there is not enough of them."...[20]

Scott Simon, NPR: "But I do wonder, am I just not seeing the world correctly to see large numbers of well-motivated atheists lending their lives to trying to better the world? Or they're - if I might put it this way, are they more concerned about just being right intellectually?"[20]

Western atheists have not done a significant amount of outreach to poor countries

See also: Western atheism and race and Global atheism

A photograph of Tanzanian children taken by a blogger of the Christian relief organization Compassion International.

Doing overseas evangelism and relief outreaches to third-world countries, often requires significant hardships/persecution and Western atheists have been unwilling to endure such hardships in order to spread atheistic ideology (see: Atheism and hedonism).

The atheist population in the Western World has not had significant outreaches to spread atheism outside the Western World nor have atheist organizations done a significant amount of relief efforts to poor countries.

Doing overseas evangelism/outreaches often requires significant hardships/persecution and Western atheists have been unwilling to endure such hardships in order to spread atheistic ideology (see: Atheism and hedonism).

Historically, Christians have made great evangelism efforts to reach every people group across the earth. They have also engaged in a lot of Christian relief work to help lessen poverty. In 2005, there were four times as many non-Western World Christians as there were Western World Christians.[21]

The current atheist population mostly resides in East Asia (particularly China) and in secular Europe/Australia among whites.[22] See: Global atheism

Translation of Darwin's Origin of the Species vs. the Bible

Since World War II a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists and agnostics (see also: Causes of evolutionary belief).[23] Charles Darwin's evolutionary book The Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life has been translated into 35 languages.[24]

The Bible has been translated into 518 languages and 2,798 languages have at least some portion of the Bible.[25]

See also: Social darwinism

Inside Philanthropy website commentary atheist philanthropy related to universities

According to the website Inside Philanthropy:

Universities lack the kind of entrenched atheist architecture—endowments, departments, conferences and the like—that religious studies departments have enjoyed for centuries.

What's more, there are several major funders who've put muscle behind religious scholarship on campus, such as the Lilly Endowment and the Templeton Foundation. But we've never seen a gift for related to aethism [sic] - either on a campus or elsewhere. Nor have our data gathering friends the Foundation Center, which reports exactly zero grants related to atheism in a database covers tens of foundations. (That said, some grants have gone to groups that put forth a "secular" agenda.)[26]

Atheist nonprofit scandals

See also: Atheist nonprofit scandals and Atheist organizations and financial mismanagement

In a 2018 YouTube video entitled David Silverman Ousted as President of American Atheists, the atheist YouTube channel Utah Outcasts said in a video about David Silverman and atheist organizations: "Many other people were also like maybe he was embezzling funds because we know people in atheist activist communities where that kind of sh*t happens. Yes, it was kind of common."[27]

Two atheist nonprofit scandals which received some publicity were the organizations Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and the We Are Atheism organization.[28]

Atheist non-profit scandals, lack of critical thinking and lack of due diligence

See also: Atheism and critical thinking

People who think about donating priorities and perform due diligence are less likely to donate to organizations who engage in scandalous behavior.

The Skepchick writer Heina Dadabhoy wrote about atheists and charitable giving:

So many of us don’t critically examine to what we pay attention and why, to whom we give our money and why, of what sort of news we keep abreast and why, about what we find out and why. We fail to recognize the disturbing patterns indicating structural injustices that emerge when we consider all the factors at hand and how these sorts of situations play out.[29]

David Gorski's complaint about atheist nonprofits

See also: Atheist organizations and financial mismanagement

Richard Dawkins
The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science had a scandal related to an embezzlement allegation.[30][30][31] See: Atheist nonprofit scandals

David Gorski at Scienceblogs wrote about atheist/skeptic organizations and financial mismanagement:

In any case, this makes me wonder: What is it about rationalist/skeptic groups that make them seemingly have such a hard time running their organizations well from a financial standpoint? After all, just a couple of months ago the Center for Inquiry (CFI) sent out letters desperately begging for more contributions. The reason was that CFI had one large benefactor whose yearly contribution funded approximately 20-25% of the yearly CFI budget. As clueless as I may be about finances, even I know that you don’t use such donations to run the operating expenses of an organization, because you can’t count on them from year to year and it’s too big a chunk. You use this money for special short-term projects and a rainy day fund. Not surprisingly, when this mysterious donor stopped donating earlier this year, suddently CFI was in deep doo-doo from a financial standpoint, prompting the desperate plea for donations and deep budget cuts. I realize that the down economy has played havoc with many nonprofit and charitable organizations, but these issues with skeptical organizations seem to go beyond just that.[31]

Atheists harass an orphanage that refused to agree to accept a donation with a stipulation attached to it

Atheism, uncharitableness and suicide

See also: Atheism and depression and Atheism and suicide

A number of studies have confirmed that there is an inverse relationship to doing volunteer work and depression.[32] The atheist population has a higher suicide rate than the general population. (see: Atheism and suicide).

Atheism, leftism, social justice/progressive values and hypocrisy

Historically, the secular left has been dominant within the atheist community (see: Atheism and politics).

Progressive values according to leading progressive websites

According to leading progressive/leftists websites, progressive values include: caring and responsibility, carried out with strength; freedom; opportunity; responsibility; cooperation/community; protection/fairness; and honesty and open communication.[33][34]

The atheist population has fallen short of the above-mentioned values (See: Atheism and social justice and Atheist hypocrisy).

See also

External links


  1. Multiple references:
  2. 2.0 2.1 Atheists and Agnostics Take Aim at Christians The Barna Update, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Religious people make better citizens, study says by Pew Research Forum, May 13, 2009
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Religious people are 'better neighbors' by USA Today, 11/14/2010
  5. Brooks, Arthur C., faith and charitable giving Policy Review, Oct-Dec 2003, p.2.
  6. Stossel, John and Kendall, Kristina Who Gives and Who Doesn't? ABC News, November 28, 2006
  7. Answers for Atheists
  8. Foundation Beyond Belief
  9. A Few Thoughts About Fundraising
  10. Khan, Razib (November 18, 2010). "Gene expression; Sex differences in global atheism, part N". Discover magazine website.
  11. Myers, P.Z. (June 29, 2010). "The woman problem". Pharyngula [blog].
  12. Research echoes Heiser’s sentiment. According to WPI’s 2010 Women Give study, American households headed by single females give 57% more than those headed by single males.
  13. Foust, Michael (October 23, 2007). "Poll: Atheists less likely to 'do good'" Baptist Press. Retrieved on July 20, 2014.
  14. How do atheists define love? by Dr. Taylor Marshall
  15. What is love? how materialist atheism fails to have a satisfactory answer, July 9, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 Christians Give more to Charity than Atheists (YouTube video featuring an audio clip of Dr. William Lane Craig)
  17. Why is Psychology Silent When it Comes to Atheism? - Dr. Melanie Brewster - Skepticon 7
  18. 18.0 18.1 Hutchinson, Sikivu (June 16, 2014). "Atheism has a big race problem that no one’s talking about". Washington Post website.
  19. Lee Moore and Steve Shives Talk About the Future of the Atheist Movement, - video quote comes 21 minutes and 13 seconds into the video
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Richard Dawkins On Terrorism And Religion
  21. Is Christianity taking over the planet?
  22. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post, May 23, 2013
  23. Darwin in translation
  24. Bible translations
  25. [Beyond Belief: As Americans Warm to Atheism, Will Donors Follow?] by Mike Scutari, Inside Philanthropy
  26. David Silverman Ousted as President of American Atheists, Utah Atheists, Go to the 3 minute mark in the video
  27. Atheist Priorities in Fundraising by Heina Dadabhoy
  28. 30.0 30.1 Richard Dawkins Drops His Lawsuit Against Former Employee
  29. 31.0 31.1 Richard Dawkins sues Josh Timonen, Posted by David Gorski on October 24, 2010
  31. What It Means To Be A Progressive: A Manifesto,
  32. What are Progressive Values,