Over the past several years, I have continued to be involved in atheism activism on the local and national level. I have loved this journey; I love being open to learning something new every day, whether that’s in the arena of science, or politics, or morality, or community, to be challenged with an old belief I hold dear that needs to be examined and either discarded or updated.
This blog is about a new thing I’m learning. For the 45 years I was a believer and a church attender, I never questioned my charitable giving. The instruction in the Bible is pretty clear about the relationship between believer and church and money. The word itself, tithe, historically means giving 1/10th of one’s earnings to the church. I took this admonition seriously, and along with my spouse, regularly and consistently contributed 10% of our earnings to our local church. Having served on said church’s budget committee, I knew exactly where that money was going: staff salaries, utility bills, literature for classes. It was a mindless, relatively painless automatic task, and I never questioned whether or not we would comply with that mandate.
Now that I’m secular, I’m free to give or not to give. And if I give, I’m free to choose to whom I give, and I’m free to make that choice based on whatever qualifications I wish. And not only am I free to give, I’m finding the process of searching and deciding to whom and how much to give both exciting and challenging.
I met with my accountant today (it’s been almost 12 hours – I think I’m finally starting to relax my shoulders). I have a modest budget, and a modest lifestyle. I have no debt, and The Squeeze tells me that the only time he sees me splurge is on the kids. With the OCD, color-coded, to-the-penny budget I have created for myself, even with tuition, I am now in a place where I can add a line item for charitable giving.
I could not be more thrilled.
I have a file on my desk with requests for donations. Those requests are from some favorite organizations: The Human Rights Campaign, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the Adventure Cycling Association. I also want to support my local Freethinkers Group, whether through sponsoring the website, or helping with other expenses. I want to be free to respond to any emergency, on the national, local, or interwebs level. I want to do the fun stuff too – buy supplies for Aden’s classroom, give a grocery store gift card to a friend in need, send a little extra cash to a peace corps friend.
Rereading this post, it seems a little simplistic and almost…remedial. Maybe it’s not something everyone else gets excited about. But I’m not embarrassed about that. I think it’s okay to learn a new skill, and be tickled to be doing it, at 52.
I love hearing from you. Tell me your “giving stories”, how you choose, how it helped.
Thanks for reading.