HEMANT MEHTA: Why Foundation Beyond Belief Matters to Me


Hemant MehtaBy Hemant Mehta
Blogger at Friendly Atheist and Foundation Beyond Belief board member

I am a dues-paying member of several atheist (or atheist-friendly) groups. And in the case of a couple that mean a lot to me (the Secular Student Alliance and the Secular Coalition for America), I give more than that.

But I’ll admit I don’t give very much to other causes—important causes—such as poverty, the environment, child welfare, animal rights, etc. Maybe because I think the issues are too big for any of my donations to matter.

One thing I’ve felt churches do amazingly well is providing a means for people to give money to deal with the “Big Issues.” Yes, you give (or are guilt-tripped into giving) your tithes to pay staff and build the church and send people on mission trips … but besides that, Christians seem to feel that donating their money is a natural thing to do. Giving is a habit for them. It doesn’t matter what their personal finances are like—they always seem to give away a certain percentage of their income. Not only that, they lead the way when it comes to doing good works.

Why aren’t atheists doing things like that? Why aren’t we giving away as much of our money as Christians do? Bill Gates- and Warren Buffett-types notwithstanding, can’t we do better at this on the whole?

Now we can. Foundation Beyond Belief is a chance for us to prove we’re just as capable of volunteering our time and giving our money as any religious person. I’m very excited about the potential this group has. Finally, there’s an organized way to get secular Americans to donate to good causes. It’s a perfect example of how humanism works in action and how “immoral” atheists can indeed do very ethical things. This is a terrific opportunity for non-religious people everywhere. We’ve seldom had a true “atheist” charity we could point to and say to others, “Look at the good work non-theists are doing!”

Let this Foundation grow and let it be a symbol of the power of humanism and the effect that a bunch of atheists can have to make this world a better place.