It could very well be one of the most shameful things that any organization could have done, especially when part of its mantra is being “dedicated to helping persons who face cancer” and not “Christians” or “theists”. Recently, the American Cancer Society released a statement on their Facebook page regarding their controversial, but at the time relatively unknown, rejection of an “atheist” $500,000 donation made by Todd Stiefel’s Stiefel Freethought Foundation and the Foundation Beyond Belief. Never mind the fact that roughly 2/3 of scientists (including oncologists) in America are agnostic, atheist or not even strongly Christian.
During the past couple of days we’ve heard your comments and we understand your concerns. Like you, many of us have been touched by cancer.
The American Cancer Society fights for everyone, everywhere, but it’s going to take all of us fighting together to end cancer. It’s clear that the American Cancer Society and Foundation Beyond Belief share a passion for saving lives.
We welcome FBB’s participation at our local Relay For Life events and we have not turned down their donations. We have shared this information with FBB and hope they know we welcome their ongoing support and involvement.
It’s a cowardly and skirting response considering that the American Cancer Society didn’t even address the issue at hand and simply took back what it decided earlier and just accepted the donations.
Moreover it didn’t even explain why it initially green-lit the donations AND the sponsoring of around 100 teams for the Relay For Life events and THEN rejected all that.
The only explanation they gave was that the American Cancer Society only allows “national teams” sponsored by corporations and not non-profit organizations to take part in the Relay For Life events.
Whoever is in the Public Relations department over at the American Cancer Society made a big mistake when they thought that NOT accepting a secular charity’s donation would be a-okay and not lead to bad press, boycotts or whatever it is they thought would happen on part of the Christians.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Mississippi state branch last year actually rejected a donation of $20,000 simply because the donor (incidentally Todd Stiefel) wasn’t theist and that people in Mississippi “tremble in terror at the word ‘atheist’.”
This is nothing new for the atheists in America. American atheists tend to face more social and even legal discrimination than their counterparts in Europe. It’s the same case for homosexuals as well.
There are hundreds of stories of former Christians not coming out of the atheist/non-Christian “closet” (which often contributes to the lack of statistics on exactly how many atheists there are) until they’re of age and able to fend for themselves (just in case) and then revealing themselves to be atheists to their families, friends and society or how they became so-and-so because they simply didn’t believe.
And speaking from personal experience, it’s absolutely frightening or unnerving to admit you’re an atheist in predominantly Christian areas.
Often times, we’re met with shock and even anger, and of course a bit of holy water with a few exorcisms. All of this is made worse when it’s our loved ones who are making these reactions.
It’s to be shamefully expected: America is one of the most religious countries in the world while atheists are the least trusted group right below Muslims/immigrants/etc. in America while also considered being the least eligible bachelors/bachelorettes.
It looks as though it doesn’t matter if you’re atheist, agnostic or a humanist and, oh I don’t know, donate to a variety of places:
While today’s world is admittedly better than McCarthy days when being atheists were equivalent to being communists (and now being atheist is equivalent to being a Richard Dawkins cult member or science worshiper) there’s still quite a lot of prejudice and misunderstanding concerning the atheist minority in America.
The problem lies not with the government or in this case, an organization, but the people themselves who run the organization and the government in the first place.
Although many Christians are nice, intelligent and very respectful, it could also be any Christian: your mother, your neighbor, a random passerby, absolutely anyone who could immediately dislike you if you’re an atheist or just not Christian, especially in the “Bible Belt” of America.
Such things can lead to what people call “Bible thumping” and generally annoying, false and insulting statements or appalling actions.
Yes, the guy actually said medicine and doctors (along with an unbalanced ratio of dead people to survivors) are from the Christian God while completely dismissing other religions and groups along with the hard work made by countless researchers, nurses, doctors and whoever else involved.