As much attention as is given to the more consumerism focused aspects of the holidays, many still celebrate them as a time of giving and charity. Even those who don’t celebrate them in a religious sense simply see them as a time of year we are reminded to try to be good people.
A prime example of such is the recent donation drive organized by /r/atheism, a sub division of the popular website reddit.com.
Reddit.com is host to a large and diverse userbase, with different “sub-reddits” dedicated to specific topics such as /r/pictures or /r/funny (due to the nature of reddit, all sub-reddit names tend to begin with “/r/” to distinguish them as a community on reddit).
Another sub-reddit, /r/atheism, is quite popular, with over 300 thousand members.
Last year, /r/atheism held a donation drive for Doctors Without Borders, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing urgent medical care across the world. In 2010, /r/atheism raised over $50,000 for the organization through its drive.
In 2011, /r/atheism performed the largest online fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders ever, according to Reuters, with over $200,000 raised so far.
The largest spike in donations occurred on Dec. 4, when the typical visitor count to doctorswithoutborders.org of approximately 4,000 spiked to over 50,000 and donations increased from $22,000 already contributed to $150,000 in a few short days.
In comparison, reddit.com’s Christian sub-reddit, /r/christianity started a competing donation drive for the Clean Water Fund. It has risen slightly over $15,000 so far.
Many of the donations were accompanied by messages such as “good without god,” “reason is my moral code,” and “Veritas Omnia Vincit” (truth conquers all things).
On the sub-reddit itself, many atheists shared stories of their private persecution for their secular beliefs and encouraged others to do so.
Several atheists from middle-eastern countries such as Egypt or the United Arab Emirates told stories of being kicked out of school for not believing in religion, while others here in the United States talked about being bullied by both teachers and classmates as well as being fired from jobs for admitting their lack of a belief.
An underlying theme of frustration with the common portrayal of atheists as lacking morality or values emerged; perhaps being a part of what prompted such a surge in charity.
Their stories sadly line-up with the harsh truth of the matter, that according to a recent University of Minnesota study, researchers found that atheists were by far the most hated and distrusted minority group in America.
Many atheists hope large donations such as this can help change minds and help show people that a person can truly be “good without god.”