I wrote a post recently concerning a new Atheist organization: The International Association of Atheists. I support them. Why? Read the post, but it comes down to this: a totally new Atheist organization is doing something others, in the U.S. and elsewhere won’t do – save a life. In my opinion, one thing atheists should be doing is standing up for one another, no matter where we live. In this specific case, an advisory board member in Nigeria, has been arrested for blasphemy. Yes, you read that correctly. No one, even his family, know about his status. Is he even still alive?
Currently, as I right this, the fund created by IAA for legal fees exceeds $8,000, looking to hit the goal of $10,000 soon (and it’s only been a week). But why would it take so long for atheists to donate even a small amount to this fund which may save someone’s life? Yes, of course, many of us are having some financial trouble, here in the U.S., with more than 30 million people on unemployment and a bleak outlook for the restoration of the economy to where it was six months ago, but some have found a few dollars to donate. In a country (U.S.) where there are more than 10 million people that identify as atheists, it would seem a no-brainer that we, together, could raise what is in fact, a small amount of money to help a fellow atheist. Even before the pandemic and subsequent shutdown of the economy, there were problems having atheists supporting causes like this one.
For years, literally more than a decade, I have heard atheists refer to ourselves as a community and a movement. Even today, I see in social media people referring to atheists the same. I, personally, have never witnessed this phenomenon. I’m certain that there are very active groups in some towns and cities, I know of a few, but overall? no. It’s really a shame because if we were an actual movement, or were a community, we would never allow a person, anywhere, to be jailed, with their life in jeopardy. Are we so self centered that we can’t donate $10 that could save a life? I see people online all day complaining about the current economic situation while, in a later tweet, mention how they ordered in pizza. So $10 plus delivery fee, and tip. Yes, I know this because I just did this recently.. But then, I did donate to the #FreeMubarakBala fund.
I do know that people, over the years have become skeptical donating to these funds because in some cases, it turns out that all the money donated doesn’t go for that which it was donated. Several years ago, a popular atheist blogger, initiated a PayPal account for help in paying her bills as she was going to have to forego as much as two months income because of a medical procedure and the subsequent recovery period. Of course, people were generous. I have no idea how much money was ultimately donated, but as it turned out, she didn’t miss a single payday, as she was down for only two weeks. So, instead of returning the money, she paid her mortgage forward six months (she lives in San Francisco), and then bought herself a pair of expensive (well for me) shoes. How do I know this? She blogged about it while thanking her readers. My conclusion? Grifter.
I don’t view this current cause in any way the same even though the example I just cited is just one of probably half a dozen I’ve seen in the past few years. So I understand if people are cautious. But let me give you an update from IAA, just today. Here’s the statement from Bridget:
We want to be clear, and feel free to ask us questions here publicly. We strive to be completely transparent about funds raised.
We have created, The Mubarak Bala Legal Aid Fund, it is currently restricted to costs associated with Mubarak’s recent detainment until it is resolved. He is a friend and on our advisory board.
We are LEGALLY bound to use the funds for this purpose only.
If you had any doubts, this is from a co-Founder. No fancy shoes for Bridget and Courtney (sorry kids!). And while you’re out there making your donation, please click on the Initiatives page and see whether this is an atheist organization that deserves your support as a member. I think you may discover something different here. Apolitical, non-partisan (as it should be) and concerned about helping and educating atheists. A chance for a virtual community to form.