Summary:

Atheist and humanist organizations exist primarily to combat the absurdities of religious beliefs. But many are also have charitable status and donate millions to worthy causes.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A few years back, writing for The Freethinker magazine, Dale Debakcsy seized my attention with the opening paragraph of a piece in which he pointed out that nonbelievers are increasingly involved in charitable projects despite their scanty, but growing numbers and limited resources.

That paragraph read:

One of the few remaining lifeboats jettisoned from the sinking ship of world theism is the idea that theists are, person for person, more charitable than non-theists. It is a patchwork and over-crowded craft, filled with desperate and wild-eyed people looking for anything to distract them from the fact that, just behind them, their worldview is slipping irrevocably beneath the waves.

For a while, whether out of pity or because we had other things to do, we let them get away with this Atheists Are Uncharitable refrain. The efforts of secular organizations over the last half decade have made such claims demonstrably silly.

Debaksy’s article gave three examples of secular organizations: the Foundation Beyond Belief, founded by OnlySky’s Dale McGowan, who was Executive Director for six years, and a board member for three years; The Apostasy Project, set up by Alom Shaha to support those who are questioning, or seeking to leave their religion; and Kiva, a site that offers people in impoverished nations the opportunity to apply for micro-loans for for a variety of needs.

He would no doubt have included Humanist Global Charity (HGC) … had it existed at the time he penned his article.
 
HGC is a California nonprofit in its ninth year that is demonstrating “goodness without God” throughout the world. Its mission (excuse the religious term) is to help the “poorest of the poor” especially if they are non-believers, with a wide variety of projects, including:
 
• Support for secular schools  
• Orphan education sponsorships  
• Start-up funds for impoverished non-religious people  
• Assistance in refugee camps  
• Support for safe houses that shelter victims of domestic violence  
• Medical rescue teams that battle cholera, malaria, urinary tract infections, intestinal parasites, peptic ulcer disease, and skin diseases.  
 
HGC first attracted attention in 2015 when it launched “the world’s first atheist orphanage” in Muhokya, Uganda. Subsequently, it built four secular schools in that Sub-Saharan nation, plus it provided support to two more orphanages, and doled out dozens of scholarships and grants to humanist college students and women’s collectives.

By 2018 HGC had expanded its activities to Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, and especially Nigeria—where it supplied aid to a camp of widowed refugees whose husbands were killed by Boko Haram.

HGC also launched the World Peace Internet Cafe and HGC Ice Cream Factory in the city of Maiduguri, and provided plentiful aid to almajiri (children abandoned by parents at Islamic centers). 
 
By 2020, HGC was fully active in South Asia: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Top projects here include support for secular schools in the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand.

The first two schools have primarily Dalit (untouchable) students, the third school is mainly Adivasi (tribal) students. Other Indian projects include funding for a Safe House for abused girls in Sikkim, support for the widow and children of an assassinated ex-Muslim atheist in Tamil Nadu, a Rationalist Library (Uttar Pradesh), multiple vocational workshops for women in Mumbai Slums, and most recently, food and school supplies for disadvantaged children in Kolkata slums. 
 
Nepal is another nation popular with HGC donors, who contributed $122,000 in 2021. Projects in the Himalayan country include food and warm clothes to multiple rural orphanages, sanitary pads and school supplies to girls (to encourage their parents to keep them in school), and blankets and kerosene to Dalits in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Dang province.  

The safe house in Myanmar. Photo courtesy Humanist Global Charity


Myanmar is another favored recipient. HGC funds a safe house and sewing vocational workshops for abandoned and abused women in the city of Mawlamyine, and food for children in a jungle refugee camp that’s hidden from the military junta. 
 
HGC has Daniel Dennett and Stephen Pinker on the Board, with Phil Zuckerman as Executive Director, and myself as founder/program Director. Support for HGC activity arrives via donations made to our website. We also feature “big donors” who contribute $6,000 or more annually.  
 
Donors to HGC trust the transparency in the organization: expenditures and IRS documents are visible on the website and every donation, no matter how small, receives a “Thank You” photo from smiling recipients, plus an appreciative email.  
 
Nonbelievers, as Debakcy noted, are best known mocking the irrational, non-scientific beliefs of those of faith. And rightly so. Faith-based views that are false, dangerous, controlling, misogynistic, homophobic and advocate violence towards opposing creeds need to be vigorously combated.

But we have proved that we can do much more through our compassion and our generosity.

The driving force behind HGC is kindness towards others. Our humanism is humanitarian. There are no gods to assist us to reach that goal, so we have to step up to the plate to help those who need assistance that’s not predicated on superstitious beliefs.
 
For more information, check out our website or email Directors@HumanistGlobal.Charity.

Editor’s note: It’s an undisputed fact that religious people, who far outnumber nonbelievers, give a hell of a lot of cash to charity. But that money, according to a 2013 Religion Dispatches report, goes to congregations and religious organizations. The report said: “So, yes, religion causes people to give more—to religion itself.”

Veteran journalist and free speech activist Barry Duke was, for 24 years, editor of The Freethinker magazine, the second oldest continually active freethought publication in the world, established by G.W....