Reading Time: 3 minutes

Remember the Murrow Indian Children’s Home?

That’s the Christian charity from Oklahoma that rejected Matt Wilbourn‘s donation of $100 on behalf of the Muskogee Atheist Community (which he and his wife Keli co-founded) — and then later rejected the $25,667.80 he raised for them online — all because the religious leaders said accepting money from atheists would “go against everything they believe in.”

Matt and Keli Wilbourn
Matt and Keli Wilbourn

You might also remember that Matt made the initial $100 donation for a charity pow-wow event run by the Children’s Home. That event took place earlier this month and it turned out the Murrow folks made more money than ever before, in part because of the negative publicity stemming from the controversy:

Officials said the recent fifth annual Murrow Indian Children’s Home fundraising powwow drew record crowds and raised $40,000 — $10,000 more than last year — thanks in part to reaction against unsolicited negative publicity after administrators respectfully declined a $100 gift from a donor who designated the money in honor of the Muskogee Atheist Community.

“More people know about Murrow now that had never even heard of them,” Murrow board member Ben Sullivan told American Baptist Home Mission Societies. “Because of this, several local businesses pledged sponsorship for the powwow.”

To be sure, they also could have raised more than $65,000 had they accepted Matt’s donation as a gesture of goodwill… (but the kids don’t really need that extra money, do they?)

Even after the fundraiser, the charity drive’s biggest donor, the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, couldn’t stop trashing the atheists, as if they were the ones who did something wrong:

“All of us at ABHMS were profoundly troubled by the recent undeserved attacks on Murrow from the Muskogee Atheist Community,” ABHMS Executive Director Jeffrey Haggray said in a press release. “We deeply respect and admire the firm stance that Murrow took in defense of its Christian principles, even as it recognized that doing so entailed waiving receipt of a potential financial windfall.”

“The home’s stance embodied courage, conviction, strength and faith,” Haggray said. “The gift is our way of letting Murrow know that the American Baptist family stands with them.”

Oh, that’s so infuriating…

There were no “undeserved” attacks on the home. There was valid criticism from people who questioned why a Christian charity would refuse to accept money from atheists who just wanted to help the children in their care.

There’s nothing admirable about what the Murrow people did. It was selfish and unnecessary. Even if they received a windfall from other Christians celebrating their persecution, it wasn’t the right move. There’s absolutely no reason to think a Christian group accepting money from non-Christian people were doing something blasphemous or contrary to their mission. This wasn’t dirty money.

I asked Matt Wilbourn what he thought of the recent developments, and he, being the genuinely nice guy he is, felt nothing but happiness for the kids who would benefit from the fundraiser:

This is excellent news! I’m really glad to hear that the children of the Murrow home will no longer have to wonder “what could have been?”

It’s great to know that there are businesses in this town that are able to raise that type of money. And it’s great to know that there are people in this town, atheists included, that are able to frequent those businesses enough to allow for a donations of that size.

That’s Matt for you.

Call me cynical, but I’m still pissed off on his behalf.

Avatar photo

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.