Secular Week of Action helps to dispel the idea that only religious charities do good. Here's how you can participate.
When I figured out I was an atheist, I thought that was the end of it. That’s it, I don’t believe in gods. Good enough.
I liked the books, the memes, and the freedom of not pretending to believe in things that aren’t real.
Religion was just a minor irritant. A fly that got trapped inside the house, smacking itself against the window. One day it would just drop dead and go away. I didn’t have to let it affect my life. It was easy enough to ignore.
Until it wasn’t.
There is a lot I can brush off. Being a stripper probably helped with that. But I draw the line when it affects my kid. I’m not a big person, but mess with my child, and I’m a beast.
When my son brought home a flyer from his public elementary school for a free bike giveaway at an event, I wasn’t suspicious right away. I looked at it and saw that the organization’s name was vague, and got curious. I didn’t have to dig too deeply to find out that it was … a local megachurch. For the kids to get their free bike, they had to attend an event that included a message of Jesus-y hope, which was not cool.
I was fortunate in that my son didn’t care too much about getting the free bike since he had recently gotten one for Christmas. He was actually annoyed that it came with strings attached.
I know, smart kid.
But he was concerned about being made fun of by the other kids. Not just because he wasn’t getting a bike, but because it would be known that he wasn’t a Christian.
That shouldn’t be an issue, right? Except it was. Big time.
My socially self-conscious fifth-grader was already a target for bullies, and now he had one more reason to stand out.
When secular mama bear takes action
I reached out to the Freedom from Religion Foundation through their Facebook page and confirmed that it was indeed a church event. I took that information to the principal, who was dismayed to find out that I not only wasn’t a Christian and member of that church, but that I objected to the public school’s sponsoring of that event.
Her dismay turned to horror when I asked if she would be willing to promote a Satanic Temple or Islamic event as well. Turns out she wouldn’t be. Weird. I’ll admit, I was having a bit of fun at that point.
FFRF sent a letter to the district and the school no longer sponsors such events.
I helped make a difference, and it felt good. But more than that, it opened my eyes to the secular non-profit organizations that are out there doing this work every day. This was around the time of the 2016 election, and I was working on becoming an epic doom-scroller. Things were scary.
Really, really super scary.
The more I became involved in the secular community, the more I understood what that election meant for the freedom from religion. Up until then, I had considered religion a net good. They help the homeless and battered women and other good stuff.
I came to realize how the conflation of religion with goodness could completely dismantle our democracy if allowed to infect our government.
I had helped make a difference already. Sure, it was a small one, but it worked. Then I looked for more opportunities and as it turns out, there are a whole bunch of secular organizations doing good on all fronts, working to keep church and state separate, fighting for civil rights, and helping all sorts of people.
And doing good, just feels good, even more so when we’re faced with all the scary stuff happening.
An easy way for you to take action
From April 29th through May 8th, Secular Week of Action helps bring together secular people for a good cause. This year, they’re working specifically to help the unhoused, which happens to be a big problem in my Northern California suburban neighborhood. But any and all charitable action is encouraged.
Whether it’s giving blood, sharing your time, or donating money to humanist causes, participating in Secular Week of Action is a great way to combat doom-scrolling fatigue. And it helps to dispel the notion that belief in gods somehow automatically makes people or non-profits good.
We know it doesn’t, so let’s make sure the rest of the world knows it too.