Richard Dawkins, author of the book The God Delusion, made a donation to the Haitian earthquake relief effort. His Foundation for Reason and Science has aligned with 13 other groups, such as The Atheist Alliance, Unreasonable Faith, and The Skeptic Society, to start a mechanism for atheists to be charitable. Their new web site, called "Non-believers Giving Aid" is a way to show that atheists are caring and compassionate.
But isn't this showboating attempt to make atheists seem as though they are humanitarian champions just a little bit disingenuous? A token gift given very publicly at a time of intense human need is very different from the constant service and love given on the ground, without any need for attention, by numerous Christian organizations and individuals every day.
Take, for example, the CNN report about the Haitian orphanage called Brebis de Saint-Michel de L'attalaye. This is an orphanage run by an organization known as Answered Prayers. Two sisters, Jamie and Ali McMutrie, have been selflessly serving and caring for Haitian orphans for the last 3 years. This is just one of numerous Christian organizations that run orphanages and missions throughout Haiti and the rest of the world. Countless individuals give up their own comfort in order to go to a place that's filled with violence or poverty in order to share the love of Jesus.
Julian the Apostate once attempted the same type of campaign as Dawkins. Writing in a letter to Arsacius in the 4th century, he lamented that "the impious Galileans support our poor as well as their own." He then went on to lead a campaign to get the pagan temples to care for their own poor, but it failed miserably.
Jesus taught that we would be judged by how we treated "the least of these" (Matthew 25:30-40). He said that when we saw somebody, especially a fellow Christian, who was naked or hungry, we should look at it as an opportunity to care for Him. . . that we've done it unto Him.
Our love for Jesus is our motivation to love our neighbor. What is the motivation of the atheists? Is it truly love, that's willing to give selflessly, whenever and wherever there's need, with no hope of recognition, or merely a pharisaical attempt to prove themselves?
Julian, "Letter to Arsacius." Based in part on the translation of Edward J. Chinook, A Few Notes on Julian and a Translation of His Public Lectures. (London: David Nutt, 1901), 75-78, as quoted by D. Brendan Nagle and Stanley M. Burstein in The Ancient World: Readings in Social and Cultural History (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995), 314-315. Then Again: Primary Source, http://www.thenagain.info/Classes/Sources/Julian.html (accessed 2-27-2009).