National Review Online posted an interesting e-mail that raises an interesting point (if only to highlight a P.R. problem among faithful atheists):
Let’s see, we have scores of Baptist Hospitals, Methodist Hospitals, Jewish Hospitals, Catholic Hospitals, etc., etc. Each of these have ‘outreach’ programs both here and in the most dismal places on earth, staffed with dedicated medical doctors and nurses. Where oh where are the Atheist’s hospitals, or soup kitchens? I, perhaps somewhat leaning to your ideology, am not so religious… but I am married to one of the most delightful, beautiful and dedicated Catholics on this earth. I delight in her absolute faith, her praying, her laughter, her zest for life, her acceptance of those of lesser faith (like me), her tolerance. All which seems so absent from the liberal atheist.
I marvel at the compassionate service I see from the Christian community. In spite of theological differences, the work of serving selflessly brings Christians together from all over the world. Other religions also organize for great humanitarian causes (Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc.). But do we see similar organized efforts from the atheists? Yes, I do have atheists friends who have done things like Peace Corps and engage in plenty of community service – but they honestly seem like exceptions. Maybe it’s just a perception problem. If you know of any atheist hospitals, soup kitchens, and foreign missionaries serving the world, please let me know.
(Nov. 10 update: Some atheists have taken objection to this post. I know a lot of you are actively engaged in service, but there is at least an image issue involved here. And from my perspective, biased as it is, I will still admire the outstanding humanitarian efforts that seem to naturally flow from religious faith. It’s one of the very positive fruits of true religion, in spite of the bitter fruit that its power-hungry corruptors have brought from time to time. But if bitter fruit is your hang up, don’t blame religion! Yes, religious bigotry has led to terrible crimes – not the least of which was the persecution of early Latter-day Saints and the murder of Joseph Smith. But the most terrible mass slaughter of human beings has occurred in this century at the hands of atheistic and Marxist totalitarian governments – 60 million in Mao’s China, 40 million in Stalin’s Russia, millions under the National Socialists of Germany, millions under the Marxists of Cambodia, and so forth. And the radical Marxist leaders of today’s terrorists, such as Yasser Arafat, are hardly sincere believers motivated by the teachings of their religion, but abuse religion as a tool to achieve their totalitarian aims. The blood of over a hundred million murdered people screams from the ground against the godless crimes of Marxism. Be offended, but so it is.)