Sunday, November 9, 2008

Donate food, schoolbooks, or a Christian education?

A bizarre, but cool, catalog arrived in the mail yesterday: The World Vision Gift Catalog ("Meaningful gifts that change tow world"). Instead of ordering stuff for yourself, you buy stuff for people around the world who need our help. It's really a pretty good idea: Charity, packaged for modern consumers.

Among the items you can buy are:
  • $100 – 8 chickens for a hungry family (or 4 for $50)
  • $100 – A goat + 2 chickens
  • $2000 &ndash 28 farm animals, including 2 cows, 2 sheep, 2 pigs, 2 goats, 20 chickens
  • $70 – One llama ("a godsend for a family in South America")
  • $150 – Stock a school with books ("Matching corporate grants multiply your gift x14, $2100 total value")
  • $575 – 2 Oxen and a plow
  • $60 – 10 fruit trees ("sweet smiles on kids' faces")
  • $20 – Mosquito nets for one family
  • $96 – Education for 3 children (tuition, supplies)
  • $240 – feed a child for a year
  • $18,000 ‐ drill a deep well for clean water
  • $64 – Christian education for 2 children ("in former communist countries")

WTF? A "Christian education" is on the same list as food, water, and malaria-fighting mosquito nets??

I can't think of anything less useful to a developing country than Christianity. It doesn't feed anyone, it doesn't cure or prevent disease, it and doesn't improve nutrition. In fact, Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic church, is to a large degree responsible for much of the overpopulation, failure to control the AIDS epidemic, and the resulting famine and death that are currently decimating parts of Africa.

I applaud the motivation behind the The World Vision Gift Catalog, and hope their unique marketing technique is a big success. And I'd like to think that inclusion of a "Christian" education is simply a way to appeal to even more contributors. But I have to wonder: Is there any true Christian who might not contribute to this good cause, but upon seeing "Christian education," decided to contribute? I surely hope not – that would be a very un-Christian attitude, wouldn't it?

In fact, I find it fairly detestable that any Christian would put proselytizing over the food and health of children around the world. I hope this "gift" is one of their least-popular items.


  1. I had a very christian education..I would much prefer a communist one!

    Seriously, that is appalling. I'm all for buying somebody a few chickens or a goat, but convert them to the monstrosity that is religion?

    Its deeply offensive.

  2. Hmmm, how can I explain this one in terms that a super-smart atheist will get?

    Ummm, okay. Craig? WorldVision is a Christian organization. You might need to read that statement again.

    So when you say that Christianity "doesn't feed anyone, it doesn't cure or prevent disease, and it doesn't improve nutrition." You'd be wrong. That's exactly what WorldVision does day in and day out. They feed people. Yes, that's right. Christians feeding, preventing disease, and providing shelters. You should also check out Compassion International. Both great organizations.

    It's hard for you to imagine that Christians do that kind of stuff because of your insane biases but it happens everyday.

  3. Actually Ryan, Christianity itself doesn't feed anything. I'm not saying that Christians don't partake in this kind of thing, but just because an organization that feeds and clothes people is Christian does not mean that Christianity is responsible. I have respect for humanity for what it is, and believe that people can be good and generous without having some hidden religious agenda. Why do Christians partake in this sort of thing? I'd assume that I would get a response such as "to follow the model of Jesus Christ" - I suppose this is legitimate but what then is the motivation to model one's self after Christ? To be seated with everything good in heaven right? So you can't just be good for the sake of being good? You do it out of fear of damnation, period.

  4. Chase,

    just because an organization that feeds and clothes people is Christian does not mean that Christianity is responsible.

    Seriously, do you actually read what you write?

    You do it out of fear of damnation, period.

    Care to provide some empirical evidence of your claim?

  5. yeah actually I do.

    maybe you just didn't understand what I was saying. do you attribute the good things that you do and your own values to christianity? i hope that you believe in yourself enough to do what is right without being told by your faith to do one thing or another. humanity has the capacity to be good on its own without some supernatural power defining what is right. Christianity is not responsible for our morality. Sorry, but Christianity is not concrete. It is an abstract entity that humanity has created. Christianity comes from human beings and is therefore not responsible; human beings are.

    On to the next point, let's talk about proposition 8 (the california measure to ban gay marriage). I believe I am correct in saying that homosexuality is looked down upon in the Christian faith and probably a lot of other religions. No, in fact I'm positive. I'm not sure if you are a supporter of the ban or not, but why would someone deprive another person of happiness? Isn't that in itself wrong? It is, but then religion steps in and tells people that it's definitely OK to deprive someone of happiness in this sense. We then have people saying "well my religion told me it was righteous to hate so I guess I better do it or I'll go to hell!" Personally, I think any Christian who supports this proposition is a hypocrite. If we removed religious influence from the equation, then a lot more people would have voted no on the proposition; people were afraid to go against their religion (ultimately their "god") and therefore voted yes out of fear.

  6. Chase,

    You’ve brought up a butt-load of subjects. I could write a couple pages responding but you continually imply that there is some objective standard of doing good. What is that standard? Why should everyone follow it?

    This is one of the main problems for atheism and it doesn’t seem as if you’ve given much thought to your atheistic assumptions. If you take the position that morals simply evolved then they are subjective and relative. If you take the position that human societies make them up then they are subjective and relative.

    Regardless this is nothing more than moral relativism. “Good” and “bad” mean different things to different people. You may want to scratch the surface at explaining why anyone should listen to your brand of morality before we go any further.

    You said “ why would someone deprive another person of happiness? Isn't that in itself wrong?

    First of all, what is happiness and how can you define it in an objective way? Secondly, Marquis de Sade was quite happy practicing sadomasochistic sex on men and women. Should he have been deprived of his brand of happiness? (He was.) What about pedophiles? Should they be deprived of their brand of happiness? (They are.) Do you see the problem here?

    I think it’s interesting that you talk about depriving others of happiness as wrong then you go on to say that we need to remove the religious influence in the political process. Isn’t THAT in itself wrong? Aren't YOU a hypocrite by your own definition?

    By the way, I don’t look down on homosexuals as “lesser people”, I don’t “hate” any homosexual, and I’m not out to steal away anyone’s happiness. Maybe you should get some facts straight before you jump to conclusions.

  7. woah man, okay this is getting out of hand.

    so you're comparing gays to pedophiles and sadomasochists? there's your first problem. gays and lesbians are not harming anyone else by being gay and lesbian. get a grip.

  8. Chase,

    Where did I compare gays with pedophiles? I never stated this. Try reading the very last paragraph of my previous post (if you're reading them at all).

    Thanks for NOT interacting with anything that I said. That's pretty easy to do.

    You've made claims left and right so far and haven't backed anything up yet. Unless you can stop foaming at the mouth to try and reinterpret and devour everything I say, we're about done here.

    If you'd like to actually give some rational basis for anything you've said here, I'm all ears. But I suppose you don't have any rational basis since you've offered none. Making claims is much easier than giving a rational basis I suppose.

  9. A true philanthropist gives with no strings attached. A true hero sacrifices even if nobody will ever know of his/her deed. A true Christian would give what is truly needed: food, shelter, medical aid, farming aid, without any expectation that the recipients would adopt Christianity, or even know that the benefactor was Christian, or even religious.

    This is a fine organization, and I admire their work. In fact, I hope many people, of all faiths or no faith, contribute.

    My point is this: Christians can't seem to help themselves, they have to preach at everyone. It would be nice to see a Christian charity like this that was simply a charity.

    Christianity "doesn't feed anyone." Good people do that, and they do it whether they're Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Baha'i, Hindu, Buddhist, or Atheist.


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