Centre for Public Christianity

I’ve crossed swords with the Centre for Public Christianity before. They pay people like John Dickson to claim in mainstream newspapers that atheists are of lower value to society than good, honest christians, who are honest and tell the truth and don’t bear false witness. And stuff. Honest.

The last time I blogged about CPX, there was a minor flurry of butthurt in the comments. You see, John Dickson had claimed

The 2004 report on Research and Philanthropy in Australia, by the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, found that people who say they are religious are far more likely to volunteer in the community and give money to charities than those who say they have no religion.

In fact, the 2004 report, which was actually called ‘Giving Australia: Research on Philanthropy in Australia’, stated explicitly:

people who are religious are more likely to give and to give more than those who are not. However, this effect does not necessarily hold when giving to religion is excluded.

However, the Centre for Public Christianity do love a good atheist-bashing, so today their director, Simon Smart, rehashed exactly the same claim:

[...] religious people make better citizens and neighbours. Putnam and Campbell write that ”for the most part, the evidence we review suggests that religiously observant Americans are more civic, and in some respects simply ‘nicer’ ”.

Simon Smart of the Centre for Public Christianity

Nicer than whom? Simon Smart doesn’t dare tell us clearly.  He mumbles about ‘secular counterparts’. But anyone who understands secularism understands that secularists are found among christian, muslim, jewish, hindu and many other communities. Being a secularist and being ‘religiously observant’ are eminently compatible. Maybe what Simon Smart is desperately trying to imply (as did his hapless colleague John Dickson) is that atheists are less inclined to community work than the christian faithful. He certainly hints at it when he invokes, of all people, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris:

But this research is in stark contrast to claims by prominent authors such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. After reading their works, you’d swear that religion makes you immediately abandon rationality to become an inward-looking extremist. What Putnam’s book does at the very least is to bring a bit of balance into the conversation.

Fortunately for the real world, the entire dataset of the Faith Matters survey has been released. Do you know how many atheists and agnostics were among the sample? This sample of 3,000 people? This sample of 3.000 people in a country of 300,000,000 people?

5.

Did you blink? Let me say that again.

Five people.

I know what you’re thinking, but let me reassure you:

On the basis of FIVE FUCKING PEOPLE IN AMERICA, John Dickson, Simon Smart and the Centre for Public Christianity think that christians do more for their community than atheists.

Meanwhile, of course, the real world fails to care what liars like John Dickson, Simon Smart or the Centre for Public Christianity say. At my local blood donor centre, the Western Sydney Freethinkers have given more than any church. More, in fact, than any community group. We are surpassed only by the military and the Rural Fire Service. Non-believers are doing plenty of good in entirely secular organisations like the Smith Family, the Red Cross and Oxfam. I doubt religious charities like St Vincent’s, the Salvation Army, Lifeline and AngliCare are about to distance themselves from the contributions of non-believers either. I dare them to.

Remember, Simon Smart of the Centre for Public Christianity said:

After reading their works, you’d swear that religion makes you immediately abandon rationality to become an inward-looking extremist.

Yes, I would swear that. I think abandoning rationality and becoming an inward-looking extremist is pretty close to the definition of becoming religious.

The rhetoric CPX employs against atheists is more divisive and discriminatory than anything the Australian Christian Lobby says about homosexuals. The Centre for Public Christianity can not be trusted.

36 Comments

  1. Posted September 9, 2011 at 21:35 | Permalink

    Simon Smart proves once and for all that the Happy Families principle of surnames reflecting one’s personal traits is homeopathy-level bunkum.

    Smart indeed.

  2. Ken West
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 22:25 | Permalink

    Dave,

    Your criticisms seem unfair to me.

    Simon Smart’s article is positive about Atheists

    Let’s read the only reference to Atheists: An atheist who comes to church to support her partner will rate as well as any believer on these scores. Hardly a demonising remark, eh?

    The research is not biased against the godless

    The research was sponsored by the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and carried out by International Communications Research in Media. Neither of these organisations appear to have an anti-Atheist agenda.

    The funding was provided by the John Templeton Foundation. The investigators write “We stress, however, that the Templeton Foundation has played no role in the analysis or interpretation of the data”. Let’s accept that, unless we find some evidence of interference.

    It’s a phone survey with 3108 respondents. Unless you want to suggest that Atheists were purposely not called or were filtered out, it may simply be that the Atheists were among the 1381 people who refused to participate.

    182 respondents in the survey describe themselves as “not spiritual at all”. That’s about 6%. 473 said their religious preference was “nothing in particular”. That’s about 15%. I haven’t boned up on my US religiosity statistics recently, but that doesn’t seem to scream “bias” to me. They seem like reasonable numbers of non-religious people.

    Do you have an allergy to the evidence?

    You counter this scientifically designed experiment with your own anecdotal evidence of altruism in your own clan. I don’t want to deny the generosity of the Freethinkers etc. But it does strike me as ironic that you’re doing exactly what you accuse us Christians of doing: denying the evidence because you don’t like it.

    Ken

  3. Posted September 9, 2011 at 22:28 | Permalink

    Philanthropy?

    Robert Wilson, atheist: Gave $25 million to New York Catholic Education

    Warren Buffet, atheist: Gave $30 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    Bill Gates, atheist: Has given $38 billion to charity.

    Andrew Carnegie, atheist: Gave $10 million to establish a pension fund for teachers, gave $125 million to aid colleges and schools, established the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – when he died had given away 90% of his fortune to good causes.

    Ted Turner, atheist: Pledged $1 billion to the United Nations for humanitarian programs.

    Lance Armstrong, atheist: established a foundation to improve the lives of people effected by cancer.

    Shall I go on?

  4. Keith
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 22:48 | Permalink

    Ken,

    your critique of Dave’s analysis misses the main point.

    It is possible for the study to be unbiased at the same time as being unrepresentative.

    Comparing a conclusion based on a sample size of 2995 people against a sample of *5* is at best misleading and at worst deliberate manipulation of outcomes.

    Ignoring any of the rhetoric from either side, unless this ridiculous imbalance in the data set is addressed, any conclusions about atheists level of societal contributions is scientifically void.

    Given the relative average level of actual and confessed atheism in the US is substantially higher than 5% I suggest that the sampling mechanism for the study is defective.

    Furthermore, without similarly sized sample sets *obtained in the same way* any observations are suspect.

    As such, this article is, much as Dave says, a beatup without foundation.

  5. Posted September 9, 2011 at 23:21 | Permalink

    “Beat up” doesn’t quite catch the spirit of the enormity of the statements comparing religious to non-religious people and their attitudes towards others in society. Put another way, with no basis to make such statements, such statements should not be made.

    In the years I did university courses which involved statistics if I had ever offered a study in which two groups were compared where one group was 600 times the size of the other I would have been headed for failure. The fact that subjects were essentially self-selected (a large number of people chose not participate) just takes more shine off the turd.

    This was not a study from which any conclusions could be drawn. It almost seems as if he result was decided in advance and the “science” molded to fit.

  6. Ken West
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 00:35 | Permalink

    Chrys, Keith, Peter,

    Your responses continue Dave’s misunderstanding that the Centre for Public Christianity is critiquing Atheism. I suggest you download the data and have a look at it yourselves.

    Chrys, I don’t want to deny your anecdotal evidence. It’s impressive, but it’s anecdotal.

    Keith, I don’t understand why you claim there is a “ridiculous imbalance”. If the researchers were making claims about Atheism, then I would agree: 5 respondents would be an imbalance. But as the study is looking at the effects of religious observance, and a considerable proportion of the respondents are not religiously observant, I don’t think that criticism stands. Indeed, of the religious folk, 522 described themselves as “not very strong” in their religious belief. Add that to the 473 with no religious preference, and almost a third of the respondents are not strong in their religious observance.

    Peter, I wonder whether you are giving the designers of the experiment enough credit. Respondents were not told the survey included questions about religion, to avoid a (ir)religious selection bias.

    Ken

  7. Posted September 10, 2011 at 01:18 | Permalink

    Respondents were not told the survey included questions about religion

    Ken, have you read the script?

    I think they cottoned on pretty quickly.

  8. Posted September 10, 2011 at 01:57 | Permalink

    Is Ken the sacrificial lamb sent forth by every christian group nowadays, or is he just a glutton for punishment?

    I particularly love the way he dismissed Chrys’s post as anecdotal, even though all of Chrys’s statements are simply backed up by a couple of basic web searches. What, Ken, did you think Chrys got all that by word of mouth?

  9. Peter
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:59 | Permalink

    Ken West,

    you said: “The funding was provided by the John Templeton Foundation”

    You should have stopped there and think about it. The John Templeton Foundation is pushing Chritians propaganda and only grant funding to people who already lean toward their goals. And of course the “selected” researches tell their data is kosher.

    So your comment “Let’s accept that, unless we find some evidence of interference” is non-sense as any scientist should wait for the peer review or other reports.

    I guess you accept pedophilia reports funded by Catholic Church because they said those are unbiased.

    your comment:
    “You counter this scientifically designed experiment with your own anecdotal evidence of altruism in your own clan. ”

    Of course Dave can back up his claim. You could have also checked it yourself:
    Gillum RF, & Masters KS. Religiousness and blood donation: findings from a national survey. Journal of health psychology, 2010 March; 15 (2), 163-72

    Funny how CPX don’t mention the Austrian study showing Church going people are more likely to steal. I guess that must be good for the society…

  10. Peter
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:04 | Permalink

    Dave,

    Let’s not forget that a lot of AngliCare funding comes from the government. So you as an atheist taxpayer support AngliCare and Christians get the credit for it.

  11. Ken West
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:23 | Permalink

    Dave, Jason

    Firstly, on page 17 of the report, the investigators say …

    When asked if they would like to participate in the survey, respondents were not told 
    that it was a study about religion. Instead, interviewers introduced themselves and said that the 
    survey was being conducted on behalf of researchers at Harvard and Notre Dame, and that it 
    was “on some current events.”

    I understand investigators do that to avoid selection bias affecting the results.

    Secondly, I didn’t dismiss Chrys’ post. However, the evidence it contains is anecdotal. A piece of information is not scientific simply because it’s found on the Internet. To help Jason, here’s what Wikipedia says about Anecdotal Evidence …

    Anecdotal evidence is not necessarily representative of a “typical” experience; statistical evidence can more accurately determine how typical something is.

    Thirdly, if I’m a sacrificial lamb, then I’m getting a slack-jawed gumming from you two.

    Ken

  12. Ken West
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 13:23 | Permalink

    Peter,

    I’m aware of the John Templeton Foundation’s interest in spirituality and science, which is why I highlighted their involvement. I don’t feel threatened by some potential ambiguity in the research.

    Having said that, I think we can agree on one point. We shouldn’t dismiss the results simply because of the source of funding. The research’s methodology, and the inferences drawn from it, should be subject to peer review. I’m not aware of the reviews to which this research has already been subjected. But we have to have better reasons for rejecting it than our personal dislike of either the sponsor or the outcome.

    You refer to a paper that investigates the correlation between a person’s religiosity and their propensity to donate blood. I only have access to the abstract, which suggests no correlation was found, neither positive or negative.

    That’s a helpful contribution, because it shows that the research is not unanimous in endorsing religiosity.

    Let me repeat my earlier statement that I’m not denying the generosity of the Western Sydney Freethinkers, or any other non-believer. My interest in this discussion is that Dave has called people I know and respect “liars” who “love a good atheist-bashing”, and yet provides no credible evidence of that.

    Ken

  13. Ken West
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 14:05 | Permalink

    Thanks to Peter and Keith for helping bring the discussion back to the data.

    And kudos to Dave and Peter for supporting Lifeline today.

  14. Posted September 10, 2011 at 14:57 | Permalink

    “Secondly, I didn’t dismiss Chrys’ post. However, the evidence it contains is anecdotal.”

    Yeah, go with the dictionary defence, Ken. You dismissed a point that goes against your ingrained beliefs. ‘fess up.

  15. Ken West
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 15:22 | Permalink

    Jason,

    To which belief are you referring? I said “A piece of information is not scientific simply because it’s found on the Internet”. I must confess I do hold that to be true.

    Ken

  16. JimLittle1
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 18:12 | Permalink

    The report Putnam cites says in section 4.1.13 – ‘Religion and the giving of money and time’ -

    “… people who are religious are more likely to give and to give more than those who are not. “However, this effect does Not necessarily hold when giving to religion is Excluded.”

    This is the same “research” Simon Smart’s CPX colleague John Dickson referred to in another SMH article 2 months ago –

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/art-of-persuasion-not-so-simple-20110708-1h6m9.html

    The Australians Giving and Volunteering Report says similarly -

    “those who are frequent worshippers are no more likely to volunteer for non-religious causes than those who have no religion” ..

    http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/communities/progserv/Documents/ga_volunteering.pdf

  17. Posted September 10, 2011 at 21:16 | Permalink

    I’m not aware of the reviews to which this research has already been subjected. But we have to have better reasons for rejecting it than our personal dislike of either the sponsor or the outcome.

    We can reject the conclusions Simon Smart and John Dickson draw from the Putnam study about agnostics or atheists because the Putnam study only interviewed five people who identified as agnostics or atheists.

    Five, you clowns.

    Or we could reject it because it hasn’t been replicated.

    Or we could reject it because other studies have shown the opposite.

    Or we could reject it because cherry-picked beneficial behaviour is entirely irrelevant to any assessment of the overall harm caused by a cult.

    For example: a cult may take taxpayer money to run a hospital, and also to protect men who rape children. Such a cult exists and has never, to my knowledge, been condemned by the Centre for Public Christianity. I dare you, CPX, to publicly announce that you refuse to be associated with churches that protect child rapists.

    As if that’s ever likely to happen.

    Ken, your friends have almost untrammelled access to publication in dying but still widely consumed media. If it upsets you that bloggers (and the majority of the 300+ commenters on the Fairfax web site) object to the lies and atheist-bashing of your buddies, then maybe your best course of action would be to recommend to your buddies that they stop lying and bashing atheists.

    As far as I can tell, the Centre for Public Christianity is now as widely and emphatically derided as the Australian Christian Lobby, and CPX are published by Fairfax for the pageviews rather than any care for truth. With every publication, CPX’s comically impotent but wickedly earnest challenges to atheism become far sillier than anything the loony fringes of Australian christianity dare pitch at LGBTIQ folk. The Centre for Public Christianity is in every sense a laughing stock.

    As long as Fairfax continues to publish CPX lies, we will continue calling out CPX. No supporter of CPX will ever have recourse to the suggestion that CPX are ‘moderate’, or should be ‘tolerated’. That is, of course, until the Centre for Public Christianity takes the truth seriously and defends the superstitions of christianity. Good luck getting published by Fairfax then, chaps!

    The longer you harp on about the community work of five American atheists as evidence for the relevance of a Palestinian Zombie to hardworking, socially responsible Australians who happily repudiate your sick death-cult, the longer we will have fertile ground for amusement.

  18. Ken West
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 21:47 | Permalink

    Jim,

    Both of the quotes you give are located in section 4.1.13 of the Australians Giving and Volunteering 2004 Report. I suspect you aren’t quoting Putnam’s research.

    I note too that you refer to the 2004 Report as “research” (your quotes). Are you inferring this Australian Government report is unreliable?

    Ken

  19. Posted September 10, 2011 at 22:12 | Permalink

    Ken: as I pointed out in this post, CPX’s John Dickson has previously tried to (falsely) claim the 2004 ‘Giving Australia’ report suggested that religious people are ‘far more likely to volunteer in the community and give money to charities’.

    As I remember, he got his arse handed to him.

  20. Peter
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 14:53 | Permalink

    Ken,

    In any field of science where there is a lot of independently funded peer reviewed research we can safely ignore suspect research. If organisation promoting X funded a research which came to a conclusion that X is the best, it can be ignored. We should spend our time studying independently funded research.

    If a TV add says that Barbeque XX is best because their unbiased research shows it is. We can just ignore their research just like the John Templeton Foundation research about religion.

    Let me make it clear: CPX is lying to promote Christianity.

    Here is an example:

    CPX director gave a lecture in 2008 “Mature religion – necessity or oxymoron?” (article is still available on CPX). He quoted people and made the point that atheist did not contribute to hurricane Katrina aid. I know him so I sent him information about atheist, freethinker and secular organisations which contributed aid to the disaster help. He reviewed the info to his credit. When I asked him to take out the incorrect info about atheists or at least make a correction he just stated that he will leave the article as it is. He has not replied to my further email regarding this.

    CPX is giving Christians credit for the aid work atheist organised.

    CPX is still knowingly giving false info on their website about atheists. That is lying.

    So don’t take my word for it. If they are your friends email that director (google CPX “Mature religion – necessity or oxymoron?”) and ask him. If he denies that just post it here and I’ll forward you the email discussion I had with him showing that they know they are lying.

    Ken, people you respect are liars who love a good atheist-bashing. Honest people make correction if they make a mistake. I have more example if you what do your own study about their integrity.

  21. Joy
    Posted September 12, 2011 at 12:00 | Permalink

    I’m a Christian, and I usually quite like John Dickson, but I was disappointed by this article (even before finding out the number of athiests included.) It seemed so obviously incorrect that I assumed some misuse of statistics.

    With a couple of tweaks to questions, and to the ivitation to participate, I’m sure this survey could achieve the opposite results.

    I was also disappointed by the apparent motivation behind the article – what was the point? Surely there are better ways to challenge the idea that people with religious faith are unreasonale, than by starting an unreasonable attack on athiests.

  22. Ken West
    Posted September 12, 2011 at 20:59 | Permalink

    Dave, Peter,

    Greg Clarke gladly shared with me the email correspondence he had with Peter. Not all the links Peter supplied still work, but I’ll take it (on faith, but not blind faith) they demonstrate Peter’s point, that atheists contributed charitably to the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

    However, when I read Greg’s article at http://publicchristianity.org/library/mature-religion-necessity-or-oxymoron , I’m not convinced that CPX are open to the charge of being “liars” who “love a good atheist-bashing”.

    Lying?

    Greg quotes an atheist Roy Hattersley who writes in the Guardian (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/sep/12/religion.uk ). Roy remarks that the volunteers assisting people on the ground were religious folks, not the irreligious. I couldn’t find any articles explicitly seeking to debunk Roy’s claims (now it wasn’t an extensive search as I’m aiming to give a timely response rather than an answer-to-everything). But I did find a piece by Jessica Williams, writing in the New Humanist (http://newhumanist.org.uk/941/faith-hope-and-charity ), which refers to Hattersley’s remarks. After assuring her readers that there are plenty of secular charity options she states …

    In the wake of Hurricane Katrina the American Humanist Association redoubled its call for a permanent, unambiguously humanist charity – since so many of the charities that were leading the relief effort were so clearly religious in their focus, it was felt that this would offer a clear alternative.

    On the basis of that, I’ll take it that the imbalance which Roy observed was real, and was also observed by the American Humanist Association. The religious volunteers were conspicuous. The irreligious volunteers were not. Perhaps they were helping behind the scenes. Perhaps they need better PR. Perhaps they gave money and not time.

    Atheist bashing?

    Note that Roy Hattersley’s comments go further, claiming that in general the faith-heads do philanthropy better than the godless. I don’t want to pursue that claim any further: perhaps you can take that up with him. It could be the Guardian who are the atheist-bashers!

    So what mischief does Greg get up to? How does he misuse Hattersley’s observation? This is what Greg says …

    Can we go further to say that the “love your neighbour” command is still making a distinct difference in people’s behaviour today? Writing in The Guardian in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, British socialist and atheist Roy Hattersley made an awful observation: almost all of the aid work was being done by people with Christian beliefs. “Notable for their absence,” he wrote, “are teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers’ clubs and atheist associations”. Now, I want to be very careful here to make clear what I am not claiming. I am not claiming that Christians are better people than atheists (although Hattersley does in fact make that claim!); rather, I am suggesting that this kind of observation suggests that Christian faith often delivers moral imperatives and actual behaviour when other world views, such as atheism, does not. If we want altruistic actions in times of human crisis – as well as in the every day – we ought to pause before happily tossing faith overboard.

    Greg notes Roy’s claim but limits himself to suggesting that perhaps this is evidence that religious faith has a positive effect on people’s behaviour.

    I want to put it to you guys that if you consider this to be “atheist bashing” then you are not simply being sensitive: you seem to be actively seeking out opportunities to be offended. Only you can decide whether, psychologically, that’s a healthy place for you to be.

    Returning to Simon’s article, which is the subject of this discussion, he makes two passing references to atheists. One is a hypothetical about an atheist coming to church to support her religious partner’s involvement in his religious community. The other is a suggestion that Putnam’s research might “bring a bit of balance” into the conversation generated by recent books by atheists.

    I think a fair-minded reader would conclude that Simon is not atheist bashing.

    Ken

  23. Peter
    Posted September 13, 2011 at 23:22 | Permalink

    Ken,

    Thank you doing your own research. I rarely see that and do appreciate when people fact check my claims.

    So let’s recap about lying:

    A lie is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement. To lie is to state something with disregard to the truth with the intention that people will accept the statement as truth.

    1) Greg quotes someone who claims atheists organisations did not contribute to the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
    2) Greg knows that:
    a) The quoted source is incorrect
    b) Atheist organisations actually did contribute money and volunteers to the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
    3) Greg knows that he is perpetuating wrong information about atheists, a group he is writing against.

    This is a text book case of lying. You don’t seem to accept that deliberately writing misinformation is lying. I don’t know what your definition of lying is, or if your moral system contains anything about lying. My moral compass tells me it is clearly lying. Greg’s doesn’t seem to care that he is lying or he doesn’t see anything wrong with what he is doing. As we know Greg does not want to remove or correct the article to reflect the reality. It is still the view of Greg and CPX. Is this lying for Jesus?

    So let’s recap about atheist bashing:

    1) Greg knows that atheist organisations actually did contribute money and volunteers to the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
    2) Greg makes a point that atheist organisations did not contribute money and volunteers to the relief efforts after Hurricane, and steals the credit from atheist organisations and gives to Christian organisations.
    3) Greg knowingly put atheists in false bad light and makes a moral point stating:
    “I am suggesting that this kind of observation suggests that Christian faith often delivers moral imperatives and actual behaviour when other world views, such as atheism, does not.”

    Greg’s premise is a lie, then he makes a makes a point about superior Christian morality. Oh the irony…

    Stealing credit from atheist work and claiming superior morality is atheist bashing.

    I’m surprised that you don’t see anything wrong with Greg behavior. Instead you claim that atheists seem to be actively seeking out opportunities to be offended. Shame on you. Shame on your moral system.

  24. Ken West
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 21:36 | Permalink

    Thanks, Peter.

    If you read Greg’s explicit denial that Christians are better than atheists, yet draw from that a claim of moral superiority, then you are clearly on different wavelengths.

    Perhaps the point of disconnect is that Greg is comparing the “moral imperatives” of Christianity and Atheism, rather than the morality of Christians and atheists.

    If you wish to debunk Greg’s inferences, it would be an interesting project for you to demonstrate that religious affiliation made no difference to people’s volunteer response to Katrina. I take it from the (atheist and humanist) articles I’ve read that this was the case: the volunteers were apparently predominantly Christians. And that’s the only premise which Greg takes from Hattersley’s article. It’s an inference that appears to be confirmed by Williams. The articles you quoted suggested atheists donated money, but I haven’t seen any information on atheists and volunteering (remembering that some of the links you supplied didn’t work for me).

  25. Peter
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 23:05 | Permalink

    Do you agree that Greg is lying (=knowing propagating misinformation)?

    You said:
    “I take it from the (atheist and humanist) articles I’ve read that this was the case: the volunteers were apparently predominantly Christians. And that’s the only premise which Greg takes from Hattersley’s article.”

    That is a lie. His article quotes:
    “Notable for their absence… are teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers’ clubs and atheist associations”.

    The US is predominantly Christian (~80%), so claiming that relief effort is predominantly Christian is no news.

    Greg knows from the link I sent him:
    “There were many Atheists and other nonbelievers affected by Hurricane Katrina, and Atheists across the country are donating generously to the many secular relief organizations that are helping victims recover,” said Johnson. She added that American Atheists had set up a resource and contribution guide on its web site (http://www.atheists.org), and that Atheists in the Gulf Coast region were also active in the relief efforts.” -atheists.org

    Do you agree that Greg is lying (=knowing propagating misinformation)?

  26. Ken West
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 00:43 | Permalink

    Peter,

    I don’t agree that Greg is lying. To do that, I would need to ignore what Greg wrote, and only look at what he quoted. If I read Dave Singer quoting Meryl Dorey, should I thereby assume he’s taking the AVN line?

    You suggest I’m being dishonest in my use of the word “predominantly”. But read what Greg says before he quotes Hattersley …

    almost all of the aid work was being done by people with Christian beliefs

    I chose the word “predominantly” because of that phrase. Greg softens Hattersley’s criticism of his fellow-atheists: Hattersley says that teams of atheists were absent; Greg allows that some were there.

    Bye!

  27. Peter
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 15:03 | Permalink

    Ken,

    You asked:
    “If I read Dave Singer quoting Meryl Dorey, should I thereby assume he’s taking the AVN line?”

    1) If Dave quotes Meryl Dorey, he fact checks the claim and debunks the claim.
    2) If Greg quotes Hattersley, he does not fact check the claim and he uses it to support his point

    See the difference?

    You said:
    “You suggest I’m being dishonest in my use of the word “predominantly”. But read what Greg says before he quotes Hattersley …”

    Greg is educated so his lies are more subtle than that. He knows that in “predominantly” Christians country emergency response is “predominantly” Christian, but he can’t make his point from that.

    Remember Greg’s point in larger font is:
    “Christian faith often delivers moral imperatives and actual behaviour when other world views, such as atheism, does not”

    So he has to use a lie:
    “Notable for their absence… are teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers’ clubs and atheist associations”.
    to make his point.

    And you don’t see anything wrong with it. So let’s see:
    1) John said that all church goers are paedophiles
    2) Chris does not do fact checking
    3) Chris quotes John stating that some people say that “all church goers are paedophiles”
    4) Chris makes a point that Muslims are not paedophiles like church goers and Muslim faith often delivers moral imperatives and actual behaviour when other world views, such as Christianity, does not

    According to you and Greg that Chris is not lying.

    Christian moral system is bankrupt.

  28. Ken West
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 23:03 | Permalink

    Peter,

    I tested your claim that Hattersley’s observation was false.

    I looked for evidence on the Internet that “teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers’ clubs and atheist associations” were part of the volunteer effort in response to Katrina. I sought organisations providing volunteer help in response to Katrina, and checked if any identified themselves as representing atheists, freethinkers or rationalists.

    A fruitless search

    I searched http://www.atheists.org for “katrina” and “katrina volunteer” but found no organisations named.

    I googled “katrina statistics relief” and found a Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina_disaster_relief – I reviewed all the organisations named, but found none who identified as “rationalist”, “freethinker” or “atheist”.

    I googled “atheist freethinker rationalist volunteer katrina” and found no references (on the first 5 pages of results) to godless organisations that coordinated volunteers in Katrina relief.

    I googled “katrina volunteer organizations” and found two comprehensive lists of volunteer organisations: http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2005/katrina/help.center/ and http://www.opm.gov/cfc/disasters/katrina-relief.asp

    The CNN page lists 90 organisations which were accepting support donors and volunteers.

    The CFC is the Combined Federal Campaign which is an initiative of the US Office of Personnel Management. The CFC promotes and supports philanthropy through workplace giving by US Federal employees. This page lists 94 organisations as “Hurricane Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, Rita, and Wilma Disaster Relief Organizations (As of September 27, 2005)”. Note that these organisations are accepting donations and not necessarily coordinating volunteers.

    I checked all the organisations on these lists, except those that were plainly religious (Salvation Army, Islamic Relief), or had a broad-based secular appeal (Red Cross, Oxfam), or had a narrow special interest (the American Lung Association, Alley Cat Rescue). I checked each organisation’s identification with atheism by looking at their About Us page, and when that was inconclusive, I searched the site for the words “atheist” or “atheism”.

    I found none who explicitly identified themselves with atheism. I did find http://www.mercycorps.org/fundraising/arfund but that was set up in 2010 with a focus on Haiti, not Katrina. Also it was taking donations, not coordinating volunteers.

    Can you help?

    My search has flaws. I could easily have missed something. It’s not scientific, but it wasn’t a half-hearted attempt either. Finally, we all know the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    You claim that atheistic organisations volunteered effort to help in response to Katrina. Could you please name them? I don’t believe you have done that yet.

    I would also appreciate if you could specify some measure of each organisation’s contribution (eg, number of volunteers, number of hours volunteered). I don’t think this is an unreasonable request: your accusations that Christians have been lying is a serious one. This information would help me understand why Hattersley missed their contribution. And it would help show their contribution was not merely a token one.

    A caveat

    I’m not suggesting that atheists didn’t volunteer effort. It would be ridiculous to claim that there were no atheists volunteering with the Red Cross, for instance.

    But Hattersley’s claim is quite specific: he didn’t observe teams from godless organisations. Organisations such as the Red Cross attract volunteers from all sorts: the religious, the godless, and everyone in between. It is not an atheist organisation.

    I’m looking forward to your information,

    Ken

  29. Peter
    Posted September 18, 2011 at 23:45 | Permalink

    Ken,

    So if I post here a link show atheists contributed to the relief effort will you admit Greg was lying?

    Greg’s point was atheists did not contribute to the relief effort, so any contribution would refute him, even a token one.

    I would also appreciate if you could specify how much Christian organisation’s contribution (eg, number of volunteers, number of hours volunteered) to Katrine effort. I’m looking forward to your information.

  30. Ken West
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 15:14 | Permalink

    Peter,

    I’m beginning to suspect you would charge the CPX folks with being liars without any evidence, and that no amount of contrary evidence would convince you otherwise.

    I’ve already answered your request for statistics about Christian organisations’ involvement. Perhaps you didn’t see it? It’s in the Wikipedia article I referred to above. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina_disaster_relief states …

    The United Methodist Church led the way in providing volunteers to help muck out homes and rebuild affected areas. According to the church’s volunteer service arm, UMVIM, over thirty thousand United Methodist volunteers have worked in the affected areas since Katrina. The Salvation Army responded to the immidiete (sic) needs of the survivors. Eventually 5.6 million meals were served, 3.3 million people were assisted, and nearly $400 million donated. The Army’s immediate response to Hurricane Katrina included the mobilization of more than 178 canteen feeding units and 11 field kitchens which together have served more than 5.7 million hot meals, 8.3 million sandwiches, snacks & drinks. Its SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network) network of amateur ham-radio operators picked up where modern communications left off to help locate more than 25,000 survivors. And, The Salvation Army pastoral care counselors (sic) were on hand to comfort the emotional and spiritual needs of 277,000 individuals.

    Is that information adequate? Its not in the format you requested, but I’ll leave it you to estimate how many person-hours it takes to serve 5.6 million meals. You estimated the US is 80% Christian, so let’s scale those numbers down accordingly, lest Jesus get too much credit.

    Ken

  31. Peter
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 20:49 | Permalink

    Ken,

    You said:
    “I’m beginning to suspect you would charge the CPX folks with being liars without any evidence, and that no amount of contrary evidence would convince you otherwise.”

    You got the email I sent to Greg’s. It has links to show for example atheist.org atheists provided atheist donation and people for the Katrina relief. That is indisputable evidence. You don’t believe evidence and you are false witnessing for Jesus.

    You said:
    “I’ve already answered your request for statistics about Christian organizations’ involvement.”

    The US government FEMA provided funding and reimbursement for a lot of organizations including Salvation Army. So part of your “Christian” effort was actual tax payer “atheist” money.
    I, an atheist, have donated and volunteered for Salvation Army, an organization you consider Christian. How do you know how much Salvation Army effort was done by atheist people? Let me know how you calculate that.

    Like Greg you steal the credit for Jesus.

    You said:
    “..lest Jesus get too much credit”
    Let’s give the credit to people who donated and volunteered. Jesus doesn’t need any credit, he does not exist.

  32. Ken West
    Posted September 23, 2011 at 09:25 | Permalink

    Peter,

    You’re not taking this conversation seriously, are you?

    You claim to have “indisputable evidence”. But what I’ve seen is two broken links and another which suggests that Greg’s analysis is correct. I’m not surprised you’re coy about sharing your evidence here! And on the basis of this you claim I “don’t believe evidence and [am] false witnessing for Jesus”.

    You claim that I’m “stealing credit for Jesus”. That I’m attributing volunteer effort which was done by non-Christians as if it had been done by Christians. Yet in the same post you acknowledge that I tried to avoid doing this! You made a jibe about my remark “lest Jesus get too much credit”, acknowledging that I had attempted to give non-Christians credit for their generosity. You’re contradicting yourself.

    You are even making simple mistakes like confusing “effort” with “money”. I won’t engage with you further about this until you can show you’re serious.

    What does Putnam say about atheists?

    Returning to the topic of the original post, Dave claimed CPX were atheist-bashing, which I have already disputed.

    I thought you might be interested to read this PBS article where Putnam answers questions about his research: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2010/10/your-religion-questions-answered.html

    It’s relevant to this post because he discusses his observation that few people in the US describe themselves as atheists.

    Ken

  33. Peter
    Posted September 24, 2011 at 21:48 | Permalink

    Ken,

    So you don’t address my statement about atheists volunteering in “Christian” organisations but claim that I’m not taking this conversation seriously?

    You haven’t been able to find info from those broken links, but still argue without seeing the evidence (=argument from ignorance)

    I posted (comment number 25) quote from one of the broken links (those are still in the Internet, learn to use it) showing atheists donated and volunteered, but you close your mind from the reality.

    I don’t get what you say in your third paragraph (You claim that I’m…)

    Then you said:
    “I won’t engage with you further about this until you can show you’re serious.”
    So you haven’t been able t find evidence but I’m the one who do is not serious. Fine. Just please don’t spread lies about your out-groups. And while you are at it study what it is like to an atheist activist in Louisiana…

    I did not read your link. Quote the relevant part. Atheists get run out of town in the US. Christian “charity” really shows towards atheists there. Openly atheist people do not have an easy life in the South.

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