Online atheism group is “good without god”

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.”

3 comments on “Online atheism group is “good without god”
  1. .45 cents versus .66 cents

    Hello, I had a grand time reading this article, however certain statistics were given in a less than honest manner (or perhaps they were accidentally overlooked). You state that the r/Atheist raised $200000 for their charitable cause, while r/Christianity only raised $15000. I got the impression that these figures, while correct , were used to demonstrate how much more charitable r/atheist was over r/christianity. As it would happen though, some very important details were omitted, such as the total member count. r/atheist has a grand total of 444,370 whereas r/christianity only has 22,555 members, and when we apply these numbers to the amount donated we receive some very interesting numbers. r/atheism donated an average of 45 cents per member versus r/christianities 66 cents per member.

    Both communities were very generous and donated a significant amount of money to great causes. However, using the numbers (incorrectly) to attempt to demonstrate that one community is more generous than another is a touchy proposition. If the article had just been about r/atheism’s noble efforts to raise money for doctors without borders, it would have been great, but it was presented as a competition in which the opposition was making a vain attempt to compete. I don’t expect these facts were omitted deliberately, but if you are aiming to right an article with a similar goal in the future, be reminded that your readers do not have to invest all that much effort into finding the original, and complete set of facts.

    Being objective can be difficult, but it is far more rewarding.

    Thank you for your Splendid work, keep it up!

    • Thank you for that information. I honestly had not thought to work out such an average due to how r/atheism is a default subreddit for reddit.com (meaning, I believe, that every user that signs up for reddit is automatically added as a subscriber) whereas r/christianity is a non-default subreddit, implying all users subscribed are more likely to be active users who specifically sought it out. But, that in no way invalidates the point you’re making and I will talk to my editor about potentially adding this information in.

      I did not intentionally omit the facts to try to make a point and would never intentionally do so. Even though I am primarily an OP/ED and Review writer I try my best to hold myself to high standards and strive for (relative) objectivity. Again, thank you for making this observation which I missed.

      It’s always good to know people are reading our articles, and even better to know people feel passionately enough about what we write to write back to us. Thank you for helping keep us honest.

      Regards, Wiley Book

      P.S. Is that a Les Mis reference I spy? Nicely done.

      • Thank you Wiley it is good to hear that you will look into the matter. I really appreciate your taking the time to respond to my comments, and I look forward to more of your work in the future.

        And it is indeed Les-Mis, I always enjoy meeting other enthusiasts.

        Cheers!
        -Prisoner24601-

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