July 12, 2010

Tithing for Atheists: Foundation Beyond Belief

FoundationBeyondBelief.jpgFoundation Beyond Belief is an organization designed to make it easier for people to support charities that do not proselytize. The idea is simple but effective. Members are encouraged to set up automatic monthly deductions to support a rotating selection of charities. Think of it sort of like a secular version of tithing. Cool idea, huh?

The Foundation features ten charities per quarter, and members can select how they would like their contributions distributed among them. This provides a nice degree of flexibility, making it rather easy for a member to allocate his or her contributions as desired.

Of course, one of the other benefits of Foundation Beyond Belief is that it helps to combat the stereotype that atheists do not support charities. Sure, one could contribute directly to any of the selected charitable organizations as an individual, but there is something to be said for larger donations coming from a secular group.

There is, however, one important thing about Foundation Beyond Belief that potential members need to know. They may choose any charitable organization that does not engage in proselytizing among their quarterly selections. Yes, this may include religious organizations. For example, the Foundation is now taking a bit of criticism for their recent selection of Quaker Peace and Social Witness.

I think the key is to make sure that potential members are clearly informed of the possibility that religious organizations may be selected. As long as they remain a minority among the other selections and as long as members continue to have the option of making sure none of their funds are used to support such organizations, it does not seem to pose a significant problem. Besides, some atheists are perfectly content to support such organizations.

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