Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Catholics Nasty about Atheist Haitian Charity

Update: (1:17 PM Pacific Time) After a firestorm of criticism, Mr. Archbold has cut off comments to his blog and deleted most of the replies, including my first comment, which you can still find below.

Update 2 I received an email from the NCR's editor explaining that the comments were cut off automatically because there were too many, as an automatic anti-spam block. They adjusted their database and restored the deleted comments.

Matthew Archbold over at the New Catholic Register wrote a snide and offensive blog this morning, criticizing Richard Dawkins and all atheists for setting up a atheist/humanist charity to help Haitian earthquake victims. If this were some random blogger, I'd pay it no mind. But this is the oldest Catholic newspaper in the United States. In a nutshell, Archbold claims:
  • Dawkins is ... intent on proving that atheists can be as good as Christians.
  • [Atheists are] desperate to prove that they’re as good (and usually better) than us religious types.
  • Dawkins is only proving that he can be good without acknowledging God.
  • Atheists can't define good and evil, and are only borrowing from Christianity.
And Archbold closes with this:
But we’re glad for the help anyway. Thanks.
Got that? We're glad for the help. We. The Catholics and Christians are in charge here! I guess God, after causing this earthquake that may have killed upwards of 200,000 people, has assigned the Roman Catholic Church to fix the mess that He created. And we atheists are welcome to help out a little if we like. This is offensive in the extreme.

Here's what I wrote on Archbold's blog comments:
First, each and every one of your claims has been resoundingly refuted long ago, by Mr. Dawkins himself and many others. You should take the time to research the target of your essays before you publish them. Second, in this crisis, I applaud EVERY organization, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist or any other faith, that helps. The last thing we should be doing is criticizing one another’s charities. And third, would you give your donation through a Muslim organization if none other were available? I doubt it. Why do you think an atheist would want to sponsor the Catholic Church’s efforts? We could go into all of the problems suffered by the Church over the last few decades, and illustrate why an atheist might not want to donate, but that would be counterproductive to the real cause: Getting help to Haiti. Shame on you for posting this snide essay. You should instead be encouraging any and all of your fellow humans who want to help.
Mr. Archbold owes everyone, not just atheists, an apology. This is a time to pull together. This is a time when atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, everyone, should work to save Haitian lives, not criticize each other. If there's competition, it should be friendly and good spirited.


  1. While I agree with most of what you say here, I can't help but think that the headline is a bit misleading. You say "Catholics," but the article refers to one man's (admittedly vicious) blog post.

  2. Anon - While I partly agree with you, I'll defend my choice of words. "Catholics" can simply mean plural, as in more than one. In this case, Archbold is writing for a major newpaper, and his name is prominently feature in the banner at the top of the page. That means they stand behind his words. So you're right, not all Catholics agree with his position, in fact, I hope and believe most don't. And on a lighter note, blog headlines are designed to be edgy and catch your attention. What can I say, it's marketing, and I play the game too!

  3. The "religious group" that is there that shouldn't be in Haiti is Scientology. John Travolta is personally flying "much needed" e-meters and staff to Haiti. Ugh...

  4. Anyone else imagining a future south park with travolta auditing haitians while they die of thirst and hunger?

  5. Absolutely ridiculous how low people will go to criticize the beliefs of others. Figures that they would pay attention to the fact that he is an atheist and ignore the fact that he is trying to help those in need. Being an atheist does not make someone a bad person...


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