Long time, no talk! I am taking a class here at the University of South Carolina – GO GAMECOCKS! – sorry, habit… anyway, my professor said the other day (amongst many, many other things) that Christian theism is particularly cruel and inhumane. I did not take my notes from your class with me when I graduated, they are likely buried beneath something at home. When I asked her after class what she meant by her comment in the lecture, she said Christianity’s embarrassing track record with the disadvantaged is “well documented” and then told me not to ask her to “do my homework for me,” and that “it’s the internet age” and I needed to go find out for myself as I could do this from the comfort of my dorm room. I’ve found some sites but I was just wondering, how would you respond?
I certainly hope that you weren’t in any sort of history course when this was affirmed. The statement is, at best, incomplete, and at worst, an outright lie. There are many things about which one could wag a finger at Christendom, but aid/succor to the infirmed, poor, weak and injured is not one.
NO RELIGION has a better track record of aid to those in need than Christianity – period. Virtually all of the disaster relief organizations worldwide are Christian; Catholic Relief Organization, Samaritan’s Purse, Red Cross International (Doctors without Borders is an outgrowth of members of this organization), Southern Baptist Church Relief, Feed the Children, Food for the Hungry International (FHI), Advocates International, Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), World Vision, et al.
In sum, over 500 evangelical ministries represented in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) provide more than $9.2 billion in relief assistance worldwide – tax exempt money well spent.
Virtually all the charitable organizations – past and preset – were/are Christian; The Red Cross, Good Will, The Salvation Army, et al. No religion or organization built, worked and funded more hospitals, hospitals were largely a Christian idea. The Economist magazine’s assessment of the Roman Catholic Church’s $170 billion total North American income finds that about $97 billion goes to fund their hospitals. The Roman Catholic Christians spend 28% on colleges, the parish and diocesan day-to-day operations accounting for just 6%. The remaining $4.6 billion going to ‘national (domestic) charitable activities.
No organization or religion has built, worked and funded more orphanages. The modern hospice movement was inaugurated by a Christian doctor, Dr. Cicely Saunders. Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) was founded by Christians, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. In India, only 3% of the populace identify as Christians & nearly a third of the health care is provided by Christians.
The Washington Post recently published an article about this subject and the Post is no friend of Christianity
It says: “Broadly speaking, American churches are incredibly generous to the needs of a hurting world. As noted by The Philanthropy Roundtable:
‘In 2009, overseas relief and development supported by American churches exceeded $13 billion, according to path-breaking calculations by the Hudson Center for Global Prosperity. (This includes not just evangelical churches but also Catholic and mainline Protestant congregations, and covers both direct missions work and donations to private relief groups.) That compares to $5 billion sent abroad by foundations in the same year, $6 billion from private and voluntary relief organizations apart from church support, and $9 billion donated internationally by corporations. The $13 billion in religious overseas philanthropy also compares impressively to the $29 billion of official development aid handed out by the federal government in 2009. […]In 2012 alone, the evangelical relief group World Vision spent “roughly $2.8 billion annually to care for the poor,” according to World Vision U.S. President Richard Stearns. “That would rank World Vision about 12th within the G-20 nations in terms of overseas development assistance.’”
Even honest prominent atheists admit as much,
British atheist and former parliamentarian, Roy Hattersley, in this 2005 article in the Guardian wherein he noted the unmistakeable difference between Christians and atheists with regard to charitable giving;
“We atheists have to accept that believers are better human beings.” He observed that “almost all” the aids groups (say, after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) “have a religious origin and character.” “Noticeable by their absence are teams from rationalists societies and free thinkers clubs and atheists associations- the sort of people that not only scoff at religion’s intellectual absurdity but also regard it as a positive force for evil.” He concludes “The only possible conclusion is that faith comes with a packet of moral imperatives that, while they do not condition the attitude of all believers, influence enough of them to make them morally superior to atheists like me. The truth may make us free but it has not made us as admirable as the average captain in the Salvation Army.” (Roy Hattersley, “Faith Does Breed Charity” The Guardian 12, Sept. 2005 available online at www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1567604,00.html )
Take atheist author Matthew Parris;
“As an atheist I truly believe that Africa needs God. Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem.” (2008)
Former atheist international journalist, Canadian Brian Stewart remarked,
“I’ve found there is no movement, or force, closer to the raw truth of war, famines, crises and the vast human predicament, than organized Christianity in action. And there is no alliance more determined and dogged in action than church workers, ordained and lay members, when mobilized for a common good.”
November 2006 study on charitable giving found, controlling for every relevant variable and in every socioeconomic category…the most powerful force behind charitable giving is, unsurprisingly, Christian religious faith (Arthur C. Brooks Who Really Cares, the Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism, N.Y. Basic Books, 2006). The amount of private charitable giving from American individuals alone (not including foundations, corporations, et al) could easily finance the entire gross domestic product Sweden, Norway or Denmark. (Ibid, 3) “Religious are far more charitable than non-religious people. In years of research, I have never found a measurable way in which secularists are more charitable than religious people.” (Ibid, 34) Brooks even claims that modern conservative Christians give more blood to those in need than their liberal, irreligious counterparts!
Dawkins has publicly complained about how prolific Christians are with regard to outreach and philanthropy and encouraged his fellow atheists to improve on this score. You know me, Bri, I don’t often make unqualified comments but here I will – NO ONE CAN MATCH CHRISTIANS with regard to practical aid to those that need it.