I need your help and advice.
Awhile ago I heard about Seth Andrews' $30,000 Atheist Charity Drive. Before that I had heard about the Foundation Beyond Belief and other pre-existing secular charities.
While thinking about this, an idea entered my mind. Why not reach out to actual Christian and Mormon missionaries and Atheist/Agnostic Charity Workers?
Editor's Note: I modified this post on May 8th to include a new module focusing on aid workers that have always been secular - their motivation is purely humanistic.
I'd like to facilitate some discussion, sort of like Seth's radio show but in writing. The plan would be for me to reach out to current Christian and Mormon missionaries locally and abroad. Atheist/Agnostic Charity Workers would also be contacted. I would also reach out to ex-Christian and Mormon missionaries as well - for more perspective.
When it comes to the local missionaries, there would be no being caught off guard when the doorbell rings or having a booklet handed to you on the way to work. No pre-programmed, scripted question and answer sessions being read from a pamphlet their church distributed. You would be in control of asking the questions and they would need to answer them after mulling them over. This would be your chance to ask your well thought out questions about why they are doing what they are doing - not just being asked if you've Have you heard the good/awesome news?
Do you have any questions or comments for Christian Missionaries or their Atheist/Agnostic Charity Worker counterparts? What really motivates or motivated them to become missionaries? What is the theology involved? Did their experiences overseas in some way contribute to their eventual disbelief? What is different between religious and non religious humanitarian workers? How can they work together? Are religious missionaries doing harm to those they are helping?
So far I have had several people sign on. These are mostly Christian missionaries - I think I have enough of them. I have also found an Atheists who have done missionary work with religious organizations in the past. I am in the process of looking for current Atheist charity workers. I have a few leads but if you know some, please let me know!
Editor's Note: A wonderful reader has just pointed out the Atheist/Agnostic team at Kiva.org. I've joined it and will see if I can find some people who have always been secular and have done on the spot charity work to balance this project out. Thanks!
If you think this sounds like an interesting project, I'll roll out the profiles as soon as I have all the contacts organized. Please start sending in questions to the email below.
If you think this is a horrible project, please let me know!
This is too heavy for a single post so I will be breaking this up into a few modules and we'll see how many posts come out of each. These are in no particular order - it really depends on the questions I come up with and get and how long it takes our respondents to answer.
Module I - Christian Missionaries Abroad (Africa)
These people have given up a lot and are living overseas. They are helping desperate people.
- A Canadian family in Kenya.
- An American family in Kenya who run an orphanage.
- An American family in Rwanda.
Module II - Atheist/Agnostic Aid Workers Abroad
These people were never religious but either went or are still positioned overseas.
- In progress.
Module III - A Christian Missionary in Canada
These people are living in a first world country. They are primarily concerned with spreading the gospel and are presumably helping people who are in less dire financial straits.
- An American family in Montreal.
Module IV - An Ex-Jewish/Christian Missionary
This person will give an Atheist perspective on how things operated from the inside of a Christian aid organization.
- A woman raised by a Jewish father and Christian mother to be a little of both and neither of both. Came out atheist while working for a Christian aid organization.
Module V - An Ex-Mormon Missionary
This person will give an Atheist perspective on how things operated from the inside of a Mormon mission.
Note: Finding someone who is still Mormon and willing to answer me has proven challenging. I'd like to include such a perspective, but it's looking less and less likely.A sixth module that summarizes all of this may also be done, assuming I don't burn out or the whole thing fizzles off into pure chaos or monotony!
I'm still constructing the profiles, so bear with me, things will get clearer in future posts!
So tell me if you think this would be an interesting project or submit any questions or comments for the missionaries by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org sometime over the next couple of weeks. If the response is good, I will soon make posts introducing the Christian missionaries and Atheist Volunteers. Otherwise, if everyone thinks it's a horrible - or even worse, boring - idea, I'll get over it and post about how upset I am about it. It's a win-win situation!