December 29, 2006

Stretching the Dollar to Support Atheist Activism

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, it is natural to start thinking about making year-end contributions to charitable organizations and those which support atheist activism. Of course, the number of worthy organizations far exceeds my financial means, forcing me to be selective.

On the charitable side, I just made my yearly contribution to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). I believe strongly in what they do, and I try to support their efforts both nationally and locally. Thus, I'll also make a donation to the local animal shelter.

Moving to the activist arena becomes much more challenging. I renewed my ACLU membership in October and joined the Union of Concerned Scientists in June. I'll consider these contributions sufficient until renewal time. My membership in the Freedom From Religion Foundation will be up for renewal in January, so I will go ahead and renew now. Their monthly newspaper is great, and they take on many causes I support.

There are many other possibilities to consider. At the top of the list would be American Atheists, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the Godless Americans PAC. What I like about American Atheists is that they actually call themselves atheists and seek to take some pride in this. What I don't like is that they don't seem to do much of anything in comparison to FFRF or Americans United, both of which are very active organizations. Hopefully, I am mistaken about this, but it is my impression. Americans United is appealing but seems quite similar to FFRF. This makes me wonder if it wouldn't be smarter to make a larger contribution to one rather than splitting it up between both. I know the least about Godless Americans, but they seem to have a rather limited mission of lobbying.

Whenever I am confronted with this sort of decision-making, I find myself wondering why there isn't an umbrella organization which unites all these and other freethought groups. This would have a tremendous advantage in maximizing the numbers and thus political clout. Just imagine something like an American Freethinkers group which could unite atheists, church-state separation activists, brights, etc. under one banner. I suppose it is unlikely that these diverse groups would ever unite in that fashion, but such a group would wield tremendous power through its numbers.

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