In the height of the Christmas rush, with Salvation Army bell-ringers outside retail store’s entrances and a cresh on every Church lawn, I got to wondering about an atheist’s place in this cloyingly pious holiday season. The message of giving and love is still a worthwhile cause, underneath all the glitter, festoons of wrapping paper and colored lights. We shouldn’t need an obese man in a red overcoat or a magic baby Jew to remind us of that.
So where do us atheists/agnostics/secularists/humanists fit in here? It seems counter productive to donate time or money to causes which give a percentage of their earnings to religious organizations and their leaders. The trouble is, it’s hard to find charitable organizations who are not in some way affiliated with religion on some level.
In addition, far too much emphasis is placed on spending money on possessions for each other, which promotes materialism and accruing possessions we neither need nor, at times, even want. This year, I’ve embraced a minimalistic approach to living and ownership. Anything I don’t use for 6 months or more is given away twice a year. At first, it was difficult deciding what I used versus what I might have a use for someday, but now I’ve gotten rather cut-throat in my approach. Those of us who live in first-world countries don’t really need anything if you think about it. So much of what we own is extraneous and gratuitous. So, why not consider making a contribution you can really be proud of this year?
Nevertheless, I went about researching godless charities and found some great ones. If you’re feeing particularly generous this season, and would like to make a contribution, check some of these out. Also, if my list is missing some great secular charities, please speak up!
I also should mention that I, the Atheist Slut, am not affiliated with any charity and organization, so my research was unbias and based on what I could find on various web sites and groups.
Thanks and may the Flying Spaghetti Monster guide your generosity!
- The mission of the ACLU is to preserve all of constitutional protections and guarantees relating to First Amendment rights, including the freedom to practice religion or choose not to, equal protection, due process, and right to privacy.
- AI’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. In pursuit of this vision, AI’s mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.
- DefCon is an online grassroots movement combating the growing power of the religious right. It includes a blog on religious freedom issues, action alerts, and in-depth articles on scientific, religious, and legal issues of the day.
- Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, and exclusion from health care in nearly 70 countries.
- a simple way to provide students in need with resources that our public schools often lack.
- Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) helps to provide clean water, electricity, sanitation systems, and education. The concept is very similar to Doctors Without Borders.
- The FBB’s mission is “To demonstrate humanism at its best by supporting efforts to improve this world and this life, and to challenge humanists to embody the highest principles of humanism, including mutual care and responsibility.”
- Unlike their counterpart, the Salvation Army which is an evangelical Christian “charity” that is also politically and socially-active promoting religion, Goodwill is a secular organization that runs thrift stores coast-to-coast. From their page: “Our network of 165 independent, community-based Goodwills in the United States and Canada offers customized job training, employment placement and other services to people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face employment challenges.”
- lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world.
- Oxfam International is a confederation of 12 organizations working together with over 3,000 partners in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions to poverty, suffering and injustice. The Oxfams operate in over 100 countries worldwide working with local partners to alleviate poverty and injustice.
- The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the diversity of life on Earth. An environmental group that protects natural habitats and the wildlife within them. Focuses on “science-based” initiatives.
- Population Connection is the national grassroots population organization that educates young people and advocates progressive action to stabilize world population at a level that can be sustained by Earth’s resources. Works against faith-based policies that are supported by the Religious Right.
- Secular organisation, the world’s first service club organisation. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. Motto is “service above self”. Notable project is global Polio eradication.
- National nonprofit that establishes urban public boarding schools to prepare students from underserved communities for success in college.
- The Secular Humanist Aid and Relief Effort or S.H.A.R.E. was developed over twenty years ago for those who wish to contribute to those people afflicted by natural or human disasters without having to use the intermediary of a religious organization. S.H.A.R.E. is a program of the Council for Secular Humanism, which for 29 years has been the leading organization promoting the rights and values of secular humanists in the U.S. and abroad.
- The leading science-based non-profit working for a healthy environment and safer world.
- UNICEF mobilizes political will and material resources to help countries, particularly developing countries, ensure a “first call for children” and to build their capacity to form appropriate policies and deliver services for children and their families. UNICEF provides emergency and disaster relief.
- The Wheelchair Foundation is a non-profit organization leading an international effort to provide free wheelchairs to every child, teen and adult who needs one, but cannot afford one. For over 10 years, the Wheelchair Foundation has been delivering hope, mobility, and freedom to people with disabilities, in an effort to provide at least 1,000,000 wheelchairs around the world.
Issue-Specific Secularist Organizations
Anti-Discrimination Support Network (ADSN)
- The Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia’s Anti-Discrimination support network (ADSN) is collecting narratives highlighting instances of bigotry against the nontheist community.
- Provides reproductive health care services, advocates for women’s reproductive rights, and offers educational services for women.
- Focuses mostly on the social and legal activism for women’s abortion rights.
Womens Health Organizations
- an international nonprofit organization that has been working for 60 years to make reproductive health services safe, available, and sustainable for women and men worldwide.
- an international organization that works around the world to increase women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, and to reduce abortion-related deaths and injuries.
Teen Pregnancy Reduction
- Sadly this charity is rated with only 2 stars due to low efficiency. However their goal is highly respectable and needed, to prevent teen pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy among single, young adults.
- campaign for treatment for people with HIV and to reduce new HIV infections. Our efforts have resulted in many life-saving interventions, including the implementation of country-wide mother-to-child transmission prevention and antiretroviral treatment programmes.
- Challenging the myth that “there are no atheists in foxholes.” There certainly are. The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers is a community support network that connects military members from around the world with each other and with local organizations. In addition to community services, MAAF takes action to educate and train both the military and civilian community about atheism in the military and the issues that face us. Where necessary, MAAF identifies, examines, and responds to insensitive practices that illegally promote religion over non-religion within the military or unethically discriminate against minority religions or differing beliefs. MAAF supports Constitutional State-Church Separation and 1st Amendment rights for all service members.
- Dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Large organization working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equal rights.
- A national non-profit gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (GLBT) agency dedicated to reducing homophobia, inequality, hate crimes, and discrimination by encouraging self-acceptance, cooperation, and non-violence.
- The legal arm of the Lambda organization that protects GLBT civil rights through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
- Provides several arguments for the case against private school vouchers.
Pledge of Allegiance
- Support Michael Newdow in his quest to remove the phrase “under God” from the official Pledge of Allegiance, coercively recited by millions of schoolchildren every day.
Evolution/Creationism in the science classroom
- Great resource with current news and resources (including the famous “Project Steve” list!) on defending evolution and science against pseudoscience advocates.
Boy Scouts of America discrimination against atheists, gays
- Composed of mostly former Boy Scouts, it is working to influence the BSA to include all participating youth members and leaders regardless of religious beliefs or sexual orientation.
Children in Poor countries
- an organization committed to helping children, their families and communities in 49 developing countries around the world.
- An organization dedicated to helping and sheltering children who are orphans of AIDS and abuse in Tanzania.
Church/state separation and secularist organizations
- A national watchdog organization (with local chapters all around the U.S.—find one near you!) dedicated to preserving religious liberty. It is open to theists and nontheists of all kinds, and is headed by a minister with the United Church of Christ (Rev. Barry Lynn) who can be seen often in the national media and news stories centering on church/state separation issues.
- American Civil Liberties Union (click on the “Religious Liberty” link)
- A favorite target of the Religious Right. The ACLU defends civil liberties on many fronts including church/state separation, personal privacy, and legal protection through due process. Look for a local chapter in your area to join.
- Progressive group that supports secular values in government. PFAW is an activist organization and PAC (political action committee) working to battle such groups as the Christian Coalition. Click the “Religious Freedom” link for action alerts and information.
- Great organization that defends the rights of nontheists in courtrooms, sponsors a fun-filled annual national convention, and publishes the popular “Freethought Today” (magazine written by and for freethinkers).
- Endorses and supports U.S. political candidates that support secular values in government and the rights of “godless Americans.” We will have our “seat at the table” in formulating public policy.
- Democratic association of various individual atheists and atheist organizations. It is a great all-around resource for all-things atheist.
- Alliance of leaders of various religions, worldviews, and beliefs that includes Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, agnostics, atheists, et al. It works to promote religious freedom for everyone regardless of religious beliefs as well as civic participation and civility. Nontheists can find theist allies here.
- Controversial atheist organization started by the infamous Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Today it fights for the complete separation of church and state, as well as for the rights of atheists in America.
- Vast coalition of secular and freethought organizations (including the Internet Infidels!) dedicated to sending lobbyists to Washington, D.C. to gain support for protecting the rights of nontheist Americans.
- Explores the causes of religious belief, promotes science in public schools, maintains a list of public lecturers, sells pro-secularist books and other media, and facilitates the giving of humanitarian aid to organizations that are completely secular in nature.
- Supports secularism in the UK, as well as church-state separation.
- The Rationalist Association is a focus for rationalist thought and debate in the UK and worldwide. The RA is the UK’s leading freethought and rationalist book publisher.
- Something for our friends Down Under — lots of good information, book lists, humor, etc.
Organizations that promote humanism/Atheism
- A 501(c)(3) charitable and educational foundation created (1) to focus, encourage and demonstrate the generosity and compassion of atheists and humanists, and (2) to provide support and encouragement for nontheistic parents.
- Large organization that offers support for secular humanists through activities such as magazine publishing, conducting secular ceremonies (weddings, funerals, etc.), educational courses, and summer camps for kids that teach critical thinking skills and secular ethical values.
- Advances the public understanding of atheism, defends the seperation of government from religon and helps to create communites of atheists. Based in Southern California.
- Promotes the spread of humanism and furthering of the humanist philosophy in the U.S. by working with and/or establishing like-minded organizations.
- Online courses available for humanists in areas such as law, science, ethics, and secular humanist philosophy.
- Run by Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, also hosts “Freethought Radio” and is the leading atheist group involved in separation of church and state legal challenges, having had several of their cases heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.
- A think-tank that offers news, opinions, information, and humor relating to humanism. It works to spread public awareness and acceptance of humanist principles.
- The largest provider of humanist ceremonies in England and Wales. Offers services for weddings, funerals, and baby-namings as well as general resources on humanism and support for humanist organizations.
- Provides secular officiants, information, services, and support for humanists in Canada.
- Comprehensive resource for positive atheists to learn about atheism, history, philosophy, religious freedom, and responsibility.
- A popular “church” for atheists, agnostics, deists, very liberal Christians, etc. Check your local yellow pages for one in your community or use this website’s handy * Congregation locator.
- A movement endorsed by several prominent nontheists to adopt a new term (“Brights”) with an accompanying philosophy to describe secularists, freethinkers, atheists, naturalists, etc. with the intent of putting forth a positive, and less-stigmatized, perception of ourselves. Many nontheists have encouraged its use, while many others reject it.
- Learn how to live life free of nonsensical beliefs, and develop your own scientific and critical thinking skills. Also publishes a popular monthly magazine, SKEPTIC, which can be found in major bookstores.
- Investigates extraordinary claims from a scientific and rational perspective. CSICOP also puts out a popular monthly magazine, Skeptical Inquirer, found in major bookstores.
- American Ethical Union (AEU)
- The American Ethical Union (AEU) describes “Ethical Culture” as a humanistic religious and educational movement inspired by the ideal that the supreme aim of human life is working to create a more humane society.
- IHEU is the sole world umbrella organisation for humanist, atheist, rationalist, secularist, skeptic, laique, ethical cultural, freethought and similar organisations world-wide.