December 20, 2013

Morton Grove Public Library Treasurer Calls Friendly Atheist 'Hate Group'

Morton Grove Public Library
Morton Grove Public Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many atheists have done great work to raise money for charities and other groups. For some, it is simply about doing the right thing and support an organization that has value to them; for others, it is about countering some of the negative stereotypes many religious believers have of atheists. Now some are noticing what appears to be a trend in which some organizations are actually refusing to accept money donated by atheists. Hemant Mehta (Friendly Atheist) recently had this happen to him...twice.

After learning that the American Legion Post 134 was withholding planned support of the Morton Grove Park District in Illinois because the district's commissioner had refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance during board meetings, Hemant used his blog to raise just over $3,000. The Legion had been contributing $2,600 to the district annually, so Hemant and his readers figured that their donation would help make up for the loss. Just one problem: the district refused to accept the donation.

At this point, Hemant decided to give the money to the Morton Grove Public Library instead. This sounded like a solid plan. Public libraries are notoriously underfunded and provide a number of important services to the communities in which they are located. This would be a way to support an agency that benefited the entire community.

Hemant learned yesterday that the Morton Grove Public Library also rejected the donation. And now, Ms. Catherine Peters, Library Board Treasurer, has publicly referred to the Friendly Atheist blog as a "hate group" (see this article in The Chicago Tribune). I've been reading Friendly Atheist consistently for several years now, and if there is one term I never imagined I would see used to describe it, this would have to be it.

Update: Hemant now has posted video of the Morton Grove Public Library Board of Trustees debating whether to accept his donation, including the contributions of Ms. Peters. It is not to be missed.

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