And the blogosphere implodes…
I know, I know, I have the atheist’s slant on it. So, in the interest of fairness, I’m wide open to ANY OTHER slant on it. Ready? Go.
That’s what I thought.
So here’s the summary. A big money, openly atheist foundation wants to partner with the American Cancer Society to be a sponsor for the Relay for Life. You know, make a contribution, have others make matching contributions and run in the races, blahblahblah. To the tune of an initial $250,000 contribution. Which would become a $500,000 contribution after the matching donations. No problem, right? Right. Approved. For a while. Then, maybe, not so much. Maybe the ACS is doing away with non-profit sponsors because they are not cost-effective. Exsqueeze me? Have you ever SOLD band fruit? Beta Club cookie dough? Fracking wrapping paper for the rugby team? Does this sound straight up to you? Half a million dollars and you can’t find a way to, in the words of Tim Gunn, make it work??
Everyone I’ve talked to today has an opinion about this. Start with the ACS Facebook page. We’ve had a smidge to say about there.
Here’s a fabulous example from the blogging community, my go-to, Greta Christina at Alternet.
And just because a few of you might click over there, here’s the Foundation Beyond Belief.
Now, here’s my blogpinion. The people at the American Cancer Society are probably not stupid. They are probably not mean or vindictive or out to get atheists. The board of directors at the American Cancer Society are probably professionals, with backgrounds in business, and non-profits, and fundraising. And I expect they are more than well-paid for their areas of expertise.
Which is why they have made this decision.
I don’t think the men and women who are the Deciders are ACS made this decision lightly. It’s a half a million dollars, for crying out loud. I think the professional at the ACS made this decision because they felt that it was in the best interest of the group to disassociate with a non-theist group, and they may be right about that impression. This is what they do. They solicit money. And I rather expect they looked at the market and at the statistics and at the fallout and at the history and at the demographics and they made a decision that was, in effect, choosing between the damage that would be done if they carried an atheist group as a donor for Relay for Life. And that damage, in their view, was substantial. So this board of professional, compassionate, thoughtful people made what they thought was the best choice and told the Foundation Beyond Belief: thanks, but no thanks.
And they are exactly wrong.
Because they seem to have overlooked one of the most fundamental rules of decision making, that piece of golden guidance we all hear our parents echoing in our own memories: Look at the big picture. Look at the 35,000 foot view. I agree with the ACS that there would have been repercussions from accepting the Foundation as a Relay Sponsor. I agree that there would have been fallout in the way of outraged believers for whom this, like bus ads that say You Can Be Good Without God, is a SLAP IN THE FACE. How dare you. This nationwasfoundedonchristianbeliefshowcouldyoutakemoneyfromheathensI’mneverdonatingagain…..
But, look, there in the distance! Is that the atheist horde? And what are they carrying? Money? And look behind them, in the year 2012, and 2015, and 2020. There are thousands of them, and more behind them, and more behind them.
This movement is growing, ACS. It’s growing, and it’s young, and it’s strong, and it’s rational, and your children are finding it, and your grandchildren.
And I haven’t even begun to address what the compassionate, believing community should say about this. It’s Cancer. The person who would withhold funds from cancer research and education because someone they don’t like also made a contribution to cancer research and education? This is who we are humoring? This is who we are trying not to offend? Are you fecking kidding me?
When I was raising my 4 children, I always tried to tell them that it was human nature to make mistakes, that they would never live a mistake-free life. I told them that their mistakes were not what would define who they were. That their character would show more clearly in the way they responded to the mistakes they made than the mistakes themselves.
American Cancer Society, rethink this one. Take the hit. Look around you. Our morals are compassion-based. We are inclined to act to alleviate real suffering. We are pro-science and pro-research. You are missing a profound opportunity to establish the future of your organization, albeit with a small cost to the present.
Do the right thing. Apologize. Admit your error. Embrace Foundation Beyond Belief as a sponsor for the Relay for Life. Make a statement. Convene your board for a short meeting to ensure this never happens again. Ever.
Thanks for reading.