Man with cellphone camera at Lakewood Church: You see this. This is Lakewood. I’m in the front of the church. The church is higher than the God damn freeway. Do you see the freeway? That’s the freeway. You see that’s 59 – the South West freeway. You see that car driving on it? It’s not closed.
Other person at Lakewood: Oh! Look at the flooding! Jesus! We’re at Joel Osteen’s church where he can’t take anyone in, because he’s under so much water distress right now. Look at that! Joel! Joel, are you here? You know what’s happening across the freeway? People are dying.
Joel Osteen wants to help
Thomas Westbrook: Joel only opened the doors to his church after receiving massive social media backlash. Now, while I’m not a fan of Osteen, I want to be fair. According to him, water did come within a foot of breaching their retaining wall and flooding the auditorium. But even if safety was his main concern and all of that was true. I still think he could have provided the higher-level rooms as shelter, but even putting all that aside. The largest church in Texas admitted that it was in no position to help. Why would you donate money to a church when you could give it straight to an organization that COULD help and help immediately – that’s trained specifically for this exact type of situation?
On top of that, with religious institutions, you don’t even know where your money is going. Churches are notorious for being completely opaque with their books, because in addition to not having to pay taxes, churches don’t have to disclose their finances or budget, and they usually don’t. Honestly, I think it’s pretty disgraceful how many cities in the US have hundreds of churches with multi-million dollar budgets, gorgeous facilities, and top of the line equipment, while thousands of homeless people roam the streets searching for food and shelter.
Now, I fully support charity and even began raising funds on my channel and through social media for the disaster relief effort of Hurricane Harvey. And I was hardly the only atheist to do so either. Seth Andrews, Matt Dilahunty, Aron Ra, Callie Wright, Thomas Smith, Jaclynn Glenn, and many other atheist activists helped in the fund-raising efforts. Yeah, they’re small compared to gigantic religious institutions, and atheists are still a minority, but while we don’t have anywhere near the same fund-raising capabilities as religious organizations yet, it’s secular organizations like All Hands Volunteers that spend 90% or more of their budget on actual charity.
But churches give “So much” to charity.
In a recent survey of mega churches over half of the respondents admitted to spending less than 15% of their budget on ministry beyond their congregation. Since that includes money spent spreading the gospel and on missions spending, only a fraction of that was actual charity. And this only includes the churches willing to respond to the survey – a survey of super rich, huge churches. Oh, and according to the results, the smaller the church, the smaller the percent of the budget went to charity. Tell me again why we need religious institutions for humanitarian aid.
And as FEMA’s budget was nearing depletion from Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida, 3 churches had the gall to sue FEMA for government aid. Churches don’t even pay taxes! It’s so transparent that they choose to sue a disasters relief agency for funds rather than pray for god to provide the money to fix their church. Tell me why my tax dollars should be used to repair houses of worship.
Because worship works so well. I hate to break it to you, but standing in a circle singing happy ditties to a hurricane cloud won’t make it go away. I’m sure it feels extremely empowering, but so does telling you that my farts cure cancer. Empowering, “butt” delusional.
It feel empowering to think my farts cure cancer. It doesn’t make it true.
It doesn’t make it true! I know that some churches were extremely generous and giving of their resources. And that’s wonderful. But churches get their money from donations. Wouldn’t it be better if the churches were transparent about what they do with those donations? Or better yet, if we just donated our money directly to the groups doing the most good? Sure, there will always be some administrative costs, but at least you’ll know where your money is going, which charity is the most efficient, and that your money isn’t being used to propagate lies.
Charity Watch, Charity Navigator, and Give Well all rate and recommend charities to help you find where your dollars will be most effective. Foundation Beyond Belief finds charities where your money won’t be spent on religious materials.
Secular and government organizations like the Red Cross, FEMA, The L.G.B.T.Q. Disaster Relief Fund, The Humane Society (pets), All Hands Volunteers, and many others began raising funds, collecting blood donations, providing shelter, etc.
Pat Robertson knows how the weather works
I would give to a responsible secular charity any day over an institution with closed books that blames the weather on gay people and abortion and uses donations to propagate dogma. Saying that we need religion because of religious charity is like saying that we need Internet Service Provider monopolies because Comcast donates to charity. This is the weakest argument for religion I have ever heard!
Charitable Donations by Organization in 2011
In the United States, in 2011, almost 100 billion dollars were donated to religious organizations – a third of all charitable donations. Imagine what we could do with all of that money if it was donated instead to medical research, education, or the promotion of science. Meanwhile the Vatican has rooms made entirely of gold.
The Pope needs more “charitable donations.”
Sean Hannity …There has been, in the name of religion, much good that has been done both in this country and around the world.
Joel Osteen People send money. They buy the product or they support the ministry. Yeah, you know, just an unbelievable amount that keeps it all going. I can’t be a big blessing to people if I’m poor and broke and depressed and I don’t feel good about myself.
Ali G Check yourself before you wreck yourself!
Give generously, but don’t give to dogma dispensaries. Give where it counts.
Oh, and if religious people believe that god targets places due to iniquity, then why did he flood hundreds of churches in the Bible Belt, but left Amsterdam, Rio, and Vegas untouched?
This is normally the part of the show where I plug my Patreon account. But instead, this week, can you go to Foundation Beyond Belief and donate to the hurricane disaster relief effort, it would mean a lot to me.