Secular Samaritan


About our campaign
Religious groups have a very long history of attempting to monopolize social constructions and even abstract concepts key to, or components of, a healthy society: marriage, sexuality, morality and as an off-shoot of morality, charity. A consequence of the centuries-spanning PR campaign conflating theism (and especially Christianity) with the impulse to charity has largely duped Americans into believing that Christians are the major givers and that non-believers are selfish, angry loners unconcerned with the struggles of the less fortunate.

Setting the Record Straight
Not only is the stereotype untrue, it is perversely untrue. The largest and most credible aid organization on Earth (other than Gates' Foundation) is the International Red Cross- a wholly secular, not holy religious, outfit. Meanwhile some of the most prolific theists and theist groups have done little or no charity that does not also double as proselytizing: big tent preachers of the 700 club, Roman Catholics (ever been to the Vatican? all that gold ain't cheap), the rich and powerful Mormon church gives out tens of thousands of free copies of their sacred text instead of using those resources to help anyone but themselves.

To be clear, many religious people and groups do great service work and are good-hearted. They just do it more often in spite of religious belief, than because of it. Similarly, atheism doesn't make anyone moral or charitable nor do we mean to imply it with our ads. The message is simply that religion is not required and that in reality, the largest scale humanitarian aid projects in human history are now conducted by atheists.
   
The Secular Samaritans
There are many good candidates to be featured in an ad campaign such as ours but we had funds only for two. We chose two men who have both set the standard in philanthropy for their generation, and broke the mold, taking it into bold new directions never conceived of by Rockefellers and Carnegies.

In 2000 Bill Gates created what is now the largest transparently-operated aid foundation in the world. Its contributions toward fighting infectious diseases is comparable to the UN World Health Organization. Unlike other magnate philanthropists, the Gates family is ensuring that the lion's share of the $1.5 Billion (minimum annual donations) spent each year goes to the world's poorest and most afflicted peoples such as those in impoverished African nations. The foundation has given a total of almost $1.2 billion to the Global Polio Eradication Foundation (source) and $750 million for immunizations of children in developing countries (source). Additionally, it has supplied major funding to AIDS research and agricultural research aimed at alleviating famine and poverty.

In 2006 Warren Buffett announced he would give it all to charity- almost $40 billion, according to Fortune Magazine. Although many wealthy people have donated their fortunes to charity upon their death Buffett has gone several steps further. First, he isn't waiting that long. Each year hundreds of millions in stock are donated according to a set donation schedule. Second, eventually virtually all of it will be given either at his death or sooner depending solely on which happens first. Buffett's children will inherit a tiny fraction because he believes that money rightly belongs to the people, and should not be used to construct a familial corporate dynasty. Third, both he and Gates have formally asked other super-wealthy individuals to donate half of their own fortunes to charity via The Giving Pledge. According to wiki, as of 2010 forty billionaires have taken the pledge meaning minimally $125 billion in donations.

Donating large sums to worthy causes is not the only or even most important way a person might be "good" but it is undeniably one of them. Perhaps for some people religion really does inspire them to help others and if it does, great. Just don't imagine it is a requirement. Some people are good with God. Some, like Gates and Buffett, are just as good without God.

To see similar ads by various localized secular groups, click herehere, or here.